One would think that a person with as much history as Tony Iommi would live a life that would be interesting to read about. The legendary guitarist who forged a genre to be known later as heavy metal, leader of Black Sabbath, and even one time member of Jethro Tull should have quite a story to tell. With that being said, I couldn’t wait to dive into Iommi’s autobiography Iron Man. I couldn’t wait to establish a connection with this mysterious and quiet legend. Unfortunately, that connection would never be made.
I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of shit for this but to put it bluntly, this was easily one of the most disappointing books I’ve read in a long time. What I love about autobiographies, when they’re written well, is that as you read you feel like you’re making a connection with the person you’re reading about. When I read autobiographies by people like David Lee Roth, David Crosby, and even Keith Richards, I felt like I was getting to know this person. I felt like I was being let in on secrets and even having a personal conversation with these folks. With Iommi’s book I felt like I was sitting in a room with someone who was being forced to recount stories at gunpoint against his will.
The stories told by Iommi in Iron Man at times were like tidbits of memories that were mentioned in a flash. One moment he’ll be talking about playing with Sabbath and then he’ll say something out of the blue like recounting a time when Ronnie James Dio called John Bonham a cunt. It was a funny tidbit but there was no rhyme or reason to that statement. No wind up or anything. As I read on, I never felt that connection with Iommi. Matter of fact, he came across just as reserved and standoff-ish as he always does. There were some interesting bits such as how he went on to play after having the tips of his fingers cut off but I found myself having to trudge through lots of gibberish and A.D.D like storytelling to get to these little pieces of gold.
If you’re really looking to get to know Iommi through his autobiography, don’t hold your breath. It’s not an impossible read by any means and may even just be something for the Sabbath completest to own but if you’re looking for a connection or even to get to know about Iommi himself, it really won’t happen. There’s really no great flow to the book and it ends as abruptly as it started. Besides the tidbits about Iommi’s childhood and a bunch of random useless stories, I felt like I knew just as little about the man himself than I did when I started the book. In all honesty, this book could have been written by someone else without the autobiography imprint. As a long time Sabbath and Iommi fan, I don’t feel any more enlightened or intrigued after reading this book. I feel like these are all stories that anyone could have told about him and maybe even put together better to make it a more cohesive read. This just read like bored man with A.D.D. who was forced to talk about his life. Iommi himself came across just as bored telling these stories as I did reading them.