I took the airboat from Malmo to Copenhagen early that Saturday – October 21, 1995.
It was rather cloudy but not too cold. I couldn’t really afford the trip over, cause I was pretty much broke, which I usually am a few days before I get my salary (in Sweden, it’s normally on the 25th each month), but I had to go.
The hotel wasn’t far from the dock, so I walked there, passing Nyhavn with all the coffeehouses, there were plenty of people out that day.
I felt really small when I walked through the hotel entrance, it was one of those fancy first class hotels where everything was huge and you really feel like you don’t belong there.
I had told Tony when I would be at the hotel, approximately, so I sat in one of the two chairs right across from the elevator.
Back in those days, there were no cellphones. Most of us didn’t have one anyway.
Tony Iommi and Geoff Nicholls walked out of one of the elevators and Tony smiled behind his sunglasses.
“Hello! Are you waiting for Tony? I think he’ll be down in a minute. Nice to see you! Will you be at the show tonight?”
So we went out for a stroll. He needed to find an exchange office and a new leather jacket. I knew Copenhagen very well, so my job was to be his guide. He changed some money, went to a few leather/fur shops but couldn’t find anything that he liked. We just kept walking down “Stroget”, which is like this pedestrian street in the heart of Copenhagen. We passed Tony Iommi and Geoff Nicholls a few times going in the opposite direction, waving and smiling.
When we got to HMV he wanted to go and check if they had the latest Black Sabbath albums, but he didn’t want to be recognized. So he put on his sunglasses. Errrmmmm… NOBODY walks around with sunglasses on a cloudy October afternoon here in Scandinavia. So I told him he might blend in better if he ditched the sunglasses. He did. :-)
They had the latest album, which was “Forbidden” at the time, and he was pleased to see that.
I went to check if they had his solo-album, “Back Where I Belong” but they didn’t. He said that not even he had a copy of it. When he first recorded it, he got a few promo-copies from the record company, which he gave to friends and fans, thinking he would get more later. But when he re-joined Sabbath, the solo-album was suspended by the record company so it was only released in very few copies and never reprinted. A rarity, in other words. I found it shortly thereafter, but not even Tony himself had it, unless he found it later, I don’t know.
He wanted to find a place to get something to eat, and we walked away from the main pedestrian street and into one of the smaller streets where he spotted an Italian restaurant in this old-fashioned building. The restaurant was down in the cellar and so we went inside.
I suddenly realized that I had no money and discreetly made a quick inventory of the contents in my wallet. I could maybe afford the cheapest pasta and the absolutely cheapest wine they had. So I ordered that.
When I got my wine I took a sip and it tasted horrible! It was like vinegar, definitely one of those “you get what you pay for”-kind of wines. If you were trying to get a cheap buzz, it would do, but if you actually wanted to enjoy your wine, it was NOT what you would want to order. Tony immediately noticed my expression, I suppose I wasn’t good at hiding my spontaneous reaction. He asked if the wine was okay. I just said that suuuure, it was no problem, but I failed to convince him
Next thing I know, he’s waving for the waitress and I hear him go:
– The lady doesn’t like her wine. Do you have anything else?
I thought to myself “nooo!” because I knew that there was nothing on that list that I could afford. But of course I didn’t want to say that. I said that water would be better, so if they could bring me a glass of ice-water, it was all good. Phew, got out of THAT embarrassing situation quickly.
We were talking and enjoying the food, was really nice. At some point, I don’t remember what had been said before that, but I think he asked me what some of my favorite Sabbath-songs were and i mentioned a few from Eternal Idol.
He started singing the first lines of the title track “Eternal Idol”:
No one said it had to be this way
Why are we the victims of their final word Dying world is killing us so slowly
I believe no god may save us now
I could have sworn I had died and gone to heaven. There I was, in an Italian restaurant with one of my absolute favorite vocalists of all time, and he was singing for me. My god, that’s one of those things that you just don’t experience every day.
I don’t know how long we were sitting there, but it was a very relaxed and nice dinner that I can remember as clearly as if it happened yesterday. When the waitress brought the bill, I took out my wallet and Tony looked at me with this wondering expression on his face.
– Put that away, I’ll take care of this! he said.
That never even crossed my mind. In Sweden, we are so used to that everyone pays for their own food/drinks, unless it’s a date, and I wouldn’t exactly consider this a date. We were just hungry after all the walking.
I showed him the way back to the hotel and said I would see them all later. I had my backstage passes, tickets and everything, so I was all set.
I saw a bunch of shows on that tour, a little here and there. The one in Stockholm was interesting because I remember calling in sick that day – from the hotel! Thank god they couldn’t see where you were calling from back in 1995. So there I was in my fancy hotel room at Sheraton in Stockholm, calling the office saying I had the flu. I don’t like lying but people just don’t understand this obsession for music. I don’t expect them to either, so I just do what I need to do.
Skid Row and Black Sabbath were playing two days in a row, which was perfect cause I knew both bands. The Skids were good friends of mine, and they wanted to meet Sabbath. So I introduced them to eachother down in the bar later that evening, after the Skids had finished their show at Gino’s. I think it was Scotti, Rachel and Snake saying hi to Bobby Rondinelli, Geoff Nicholls and one more of the Sabbath guys that I honestly can’t remember anymore. If it was one of the Tony’s or Neil Murray, I wouldn’t know.
Neil (Murray) was the one who kept me company that first day in Stockholm. He came downstairs pretty early in the afternoon. Tony (Martin) was meeting with someone he knew in Stockholm so I knew I wouldn’t be seeing him that day. But Neil joined me and talked for a while. I really liked him. Such a kind, quiet, and nice man. To this day, I still try to get together with him when he visits Sweden. The last time was last year I think, when he was here with the Queen-musical.
Kept texting back and forth all day to try set up a when and where and he finally found me in the lobby of the concert arena. I’m so glad to see him every time. Definitely one of those people I like very much.
So yeah that was one of the Black Sabbath shows. The other one was in London, it was bizarre. We went to the backstage door, when suddenly – ANOTHER very familiar face showed up in that narrow alley! Bill Wyman from Rolling Stones walked out the backdoor of the club next door. How’s that for a surprise. :)
This was the last show on the Black Sabbath 1995 European tour, and they all went home to their families srtaight after the show. The only one that had a hotel to go to was Bobby Rondinelli, so me and my two friends helped him carry his drums to his room. Then we all sat down in the bar chatting until late. But I never got to say anything to Tony that evening.
I left Sweden in 1996 to go live in Albany, New York and this is when the internet first started making an entrance in people’s homes. The family I was staying with had a PC with an 11-modem that took forever to get online, but it was perfect for emailing.
There weren’t that many graphics on the internet back in those days anyway. And there were no social network sites such as MySpace and Facebook and all those things. The only “social network” you had was through discussion groups that you joined, and then you got regular e-mails with the latest additions from us members.
And there were guestbooks. That was the closest you would get to a chatroom.
So anyway, I was in touch with Tony through e-mail during 1996 and with the help of a few guys who were also big fans of his, we set up a Tony Martin page where fans could communicate and ask him questions. He didn’t want to post directly cause that would disclose his email-address, which he wasn’t comfortable with, so he sent his answers to his fans through me.
That year I was the link between Tony Martin and his fans. He was no longer in Black Sabbath by the way, kicked out for the second time.
Now he was focusing on his solo-stuff.
I LOVED what he did with Misha Calvin for instance. One of the best CD’s in my collection!! Fantastic vocals…:
Tony was the best singer in the business back in those days, I used to listen to this Misha Calvin-CD over and over again in the car for months!
Fast forwarding to 1997. I came back to Sweden in June that year and the first thing I did was go buy a new Mac. It was a cool BLACK Mac with a 36-modem with was super-fast for those days. :) My friend Ozzie tought me how to use html-editor Dreamweaver, how to scan pics and how to upload a website.
I started experimenting with my own page, which has kind of gone classic by now. So many people AND artists have visited it since it was launched. I think it’s butt ugly and embarrassing today, but I can’t take it down beause the provider that hosted the page, doesn’t exist anymore. So – I can’t access those files and delete them. Guess I just have to live with them.
However I put a lot of time and effort on Tony’s page. That was his way of promoting his solo-career and he sent a bunch of exclusive material, private photos that nobody had ever seen, an extensive bio, music…
For the premiere of the opening of his page, he sent a cassette from his sessions with Italian super-guitarist Aldo Giuntini and it kicked ass! My job was to review it, so that the fans could get an idea of what he was doing and of course get them curious to get his solo-material. He called a few times to discuss the page, I even have one of the messages he left on the answering machine saved somewhere. I’m saving everything, I just wish I knew where the hell I keep all this stuff! :))
It went well, the page was up there, fans loved it. But… Two stubborn people with very particular ideas of what they want to do, didn’t work out that well in the long run. Tony and I got pissed off at eachother – I got mad at him for something I don’t even remember anymore, he thought whatever he thought about me (still have the very sarcastic letter that he sent, here somewhere, but I’m not posting that, feels like a private dispute that isn’t for the public eye anyway). And that was the end of it.
I couldn’t even listen to his music for a long time after that. I was probably to blame for not being more flexible but these things teach you a lot. I’m not the same person that I was back then. You grow older and wiser, and those things would never have happened today.
I enjoyed the time I was in touch with Tony, it’s great reading all the mails that were sent back and forth during 1996, because it was between two friends. He would talk about everyday things – his kids, his wife, his life, and for a while I even forgot that he was the same guy whose voice I could listen to for hours. I certainly never thought of him as a Black Sabbath-member during that time. After a while you just forget those things, and the person becomes “just a person”, which is what we all really are.
I’m not mad anymore because I don’t remember the details of that fight anyway. And to this day I think his voice was a gift from God. What a voice! And what a waste of talent to not hear as much about his career anymore. I can only hope that he finds his way back to the masses. He deserves it.