Tony Iommi and Rob Halford Recall Their First U.S. Shows
Tony Iommi and Rob Halford exchanged memories of their first-ever U.S. shows during their first-ever double interview in their five-decade friendship.
The Black Sabbath and Judas Priest icons spoke to Metal Hammer about the past, present and future of heavy metal, admitting that neither had recalled when they first met.
Asked about the influence Sabbath had on Priest, Halford said, “It was just the success they were having, that was the inspiration: ‘Oh God, they’re playing in the States!’ When your mates are doing something like that, it’s like, ‘Maybe we might get lucky and go over there too.’ Can you remember the first time you went over to America, Tone?”
“Yeah,” Iommi replied. “We played in a club in New York called Ungano’s. We were all thinking, ‘Brilliant, it’s America, we’ve made it!’ And we turned up at this place, and it was half the size of this room. Then we plugged in the gear and it blew up, ’cos we didn’t realize the voltage was different. It was, like, ‘Fucking hell, is this it?’ Mind you, we supported Rod Stewart the next night, and we went down better than he did … which he wasn’t very amused about.”
Halford then shared his own first Stateside show. “It was in Columbus, Ohio, and we brought the ceiling down," he recalled. "It was a low ceiling, and the volume was so strong that it was shaking and the ceiling tiles were coming down. People were covering their ears. What a great night out.”
Elsewhere in the interview, the veterans spoke of their earliest concerts, with Halford noting that Priest "played anywhere you could put a plug in the wall. This one pub, the stage was literally three feet from the bar. There were these two guys having a pint, and we were all crammed up in this tiny corner. Glenn [Tipton] turns his guitar on and goes ‘pling.' The barman went, ‘That’s it, you’re not playing, here’s your fiver, now hop it.’ We got paid without even playing a note.”
“We had to go to Europe to break it,” Iommi added. “We played in Hamburg and Switzerland, doing seven 45-minute spots every day. And there would be two people in – one of them was a hooker and the other a nutcase. We lasted about a day before the owners came up and said, ‘Stop that bloody racket!’”
Both agreed that the stories made for some "great memories." "At the time, it’s shit, but when you look back, it’s some of the best times of your lives," Halford noted. "You’re a bunch of guys having a great time, playing your music.”