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Iron Man: My Journey through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath Hardcover – November 1, 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 189 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Publishers Weekly, 6/27
[Tony Iommi is] “the undisputed originator of heavy metal.”

Kirkus Reviews, 10/1/11
“[Iommi is] most entertaining when describing the Sabbath’s incessant, hazardous prank-playing…The guitarist is not wholly unaware of the oft-ludicrous nature of his enterprise.”
Publishers Weekly, 10/3/11
“An important addition to the Black Sabbath story…Iommi’s autobiography is as direct as his music.”
Booklist, 11/1/11
“This memoir [is] dead certain to appeal to heavy-metal fans of all ages…With plenty of behind-the-scenes stories and fresh perspectives on some of music’s most notorious characters…this is a frank and honest look at a special part of rock history.”
RollingStone.com, 10/24/11
“The book recounts all the ups and downs the guitarist experienced with Ozzy Osbourne and company.”
Houston Press, 10/20/11
“Written in short, easily digestible chapters, Iommi's autobiography is full of revelations and observations of his career…A good read.”

USA Today, 10/31/11
“Iommi has a story that needs to be told…Iommi tells his story simply and chronologically, making it easy for anyone to slip into the fast-paced tale. And yes, while there are plenty of drug-fueled antics, there's no doubt the focus is on the music here, as it should be…Iommi emerges from Iron Man seeming like a true trailblazer without sounding immodest or unkind—and I've learned that's quite a feat, especially after reading, say, Motley Crue's The Dirt.”

New York Daily News, 10/28/11
“A raucous autobiography…He brainstormed one of the heaviest and darkest sounds known to man. But Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi makes a surprisingly sweet narrator of his own life.”
Ultimateclassicrock.com, 11/1/11
“In his 350+ page autobiography, Iommi leaves no doubt that he is fully deserving of the rock bad boy title but is even more worthy of the Hall of Fame nod…What makes the book stand out, though, is Iommi’s lack of pretense, his insider perspective and surprising sense of humor in telling classic tales…It’s the rare glimpse into the personal perspective of Iommi that makes Iron Man a must-read for music fans.”
Blogcritics.com, 11/1/11
”A personal look inside one of the most unique bands of the past 40 years.”
Library Journal, 11/15/11
“Iommi paints an intimate portrait of his own life from childhood to his most recent musical effort in Heaven & Hell…Readers who enjoyed Joel McIver’s Sabbath Bloody Sabbath will be drawn to Iommi’s insider perspective.”

January Magazine, 11/18/11
“When it comes to rocker biographies, the 2011 winner is former Black Sabbath lead guitarist, Tony Iommi’s Iron Man. This is the whole package: Iommi is candid, engaging and celebrated and that’s exactly the right combo for this sort of book. Though it’s Iommi’s autobiography, this is also the story of Black Sabbath, one of the most celebrated and seminal rock outfits of all time. And on this journey we take with him we discover that our wildest imaginings about sixties and seventies rock n’ roller behavior were only scratching the service…Iommi is a likable correspondent and you don’t mind spending time in his presence for the duration of the book. If you only buy one rock biography this season, for so many reasons, it should be this one.”

Gibson.com, 11/11/11
“[A] must-read…It contains some near-unbelievable stories: drugs, the Mafia, knife fights, Iommi setting fire to Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward, killing Virgin mogul Richard Branson’s prize carp fish with Sabbath pyrotechnics, that Spinal Tap-inspiring Stonehenge stage set, even auditioning Michael Bolton as Black Sabbath singer (true!)…and, of course, all the guaranteed craziness you’d expect from a band involving Ozzy Osbourne.”

TheNervousBreakdown.com, 11/12/11
“A four hundred page monster of a book, as heavy in places as ‘War Pigs,’ as deep and reflective in others as ‘Planet Caravan.’”

WLKY.com, 11/11/11
“In Iron Man, Iommi lays it all bare. Told in an economic, forthright style, the autobiography explores everything one would expect and then some…An enjoyable read and will make a nice holiday gift for the metalheads on your shopping list.”

Rolling Stone, 12/8/11
“There’s good material here.”

Milwaukee Shepherd Express, 11/22/11
Iron Man chronicles a life of ale, drugs and women and a trail of destruction behind every tour.”

Bookviews blog, December 2011
“Fans of the group, Black Sabbath, will enjoy Iron Man.”

Curled Up with a Good Book, 12/6/11
“Many books have been written about Black Sabbath, but this one comes from the horse's mouth and sheds light on moments only Tonio was privy to…This certainly needs to be read by any Black Sabbath fan.”
Bookgasm.com, 12/2/11
“Reveals the man behind the icon, yet still captures Iommi’s humor, intelligence and warmth.”
The Cleveland Sound, 12/11/11
“Fans will revel in the guitarist’s lucid memory and wicked humor—but casual rock readers will likewise enjoy this tale of one unassuming English kid’s improbable rise into to the pantheon of metal godliness, thanks primarily to Iommi’s fairly objective storytelling, charming prose, and keen sense of the absurd…[Iommi is] a raconteur whose words are as endearing as they are informative.” 

Elmore, January/February 2012
“Iommi dishes on a life of heavy music and even heavier times…Dignified and classy, while still spilling plenty of messy musical beans.”

Guitar World, 12/26/11
“One of the top 15 books of 2011.”
Midwest Book Review, January 2012
“[Black Sabbath’s] interactions with other famous music personalities and Tony Iommi's perceptions of the music world make this a 'must' for fans of the group and any collection profiling rock music history."

SLUG, March 2012
“Some obscure gems…It has a rapid-fire ‘quick story’ quality…Tony’s delightfully frank…It’s honest, endearing.”

PowerlineMag.com, 6/8/12
“Though there are a number of books about Black Sabbath available, there aren’t too many by one of the band’s members—and most of those books are, unsurprisingly, by lead singer Ozzy Osbourne. So it’s nice to get another viewpoint from the band’s guitarist and co-founding member. Iommi covers his history from start to finish, with some interesting factoids being served up along the way.”

About the Author

Tony Iommi is a cofounding member and lead guitarist of Black Sabbath and is among the most influential guitarists of all time. Born in 1948, he lives in Birmingham, England.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 1St Edition edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306819554
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306819551
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (189 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #390,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Menich on November 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
As a guitarist and a huge Iommi fan I must say I anticipated this autobiography more than the Keith Richards or the Clapton book; however, having read 3/4 of the book in just two days, I am extremly disapointed. Compared to Ozzy, Tony is almost reclussive, and so one would expect him, when deciding to write an autobiography, to set the record straight. Instead, Iommi glosses over his life, wives, the Ozzy years, Dio, etc. with little detail. He sounds almost detached and uninterested in attempting to document and share, what one would presume to be, a rather storied in unique life. The book reads like a diary or a magazine interview. While he attempts to keep things in chronological order, the stories meander and leave the reader confused at times. Makes one wonder exactly what Mr. Lammers was doing in regard to this book.
Coming from the preeminent architect of heavy metal, this is a real missed opportunity for the rest of us.
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Format: Hardcover
I will preface by noting I got into Sabbath relatively late - in the early '90s by way of Soundgarden, and have not read much about them prior to picking this up, so not sure how much of Tony's story has been previously discussed. Having said that, I thought 'Iron Man' was an entertaining look at Tony's life in and out of Sabbath. The stories of Tony's upbringing and family life were insightful into what shaped his work ethic and drive for success. The fingertip-severing story is so widely known, it was almost a waste of print to detail it once again - but on the flip side, it was a key moment in defining the Sabbath sound, so of course it must be told. From an outsider's perspective at least, it seemed like Tony delivered a fair picture of the dynamics within Sabbath - the increasing focus of creative output upon him, the deterioration of band relationships leading up to Ozzy's firing. Then the rebirth with Dio, the various iterations of the band until it basically became "Tony Iommi and Black Sabbath". Then the reunions and up to the present day. On the lighter side, the constant practical jokes, particularly the relentless torturing of Bill Ward, got me laughing many times, as well as the Spinal Tap-ish moments with the Stonehenge debacle and the "Black Sabbath with Magic Show" gig [or whatever the opening act was].

Regarding the format of the narrative - it definitely took me a couple chapters to get the rhythm. At first, I was a little disappointed by how brief each chapter was - 3-5 pages for many. I flipped ahead a little to see if things got longer as it went along - they did not.
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Format: Hardcover
Tony is, of course, great, and seems to be really quite a nice guy, smart and kind at the core. However, this book is pretty drab. It is mostly a slow slog through every album he made, such that Ozzy has left Sabbath by half way through the book. Records like "TYR" get as much space as "Paranoid" or "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath", which seems quite odd, given that it is for the latter that Iommi is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, not the former. There are anecdotes, but again, fairly boring. Tony played a prank on someone in the band. They played a prank on him. Everyone got drunk. Ho-hum. There is really little if any insight into the music other than a recitation of what was recorded where and when, which you can get from Wikipedia for free. Little insight into any of the personalities involved, including Ozzy and Geezer. What was it really like to be in a band with Ozzy? You won't really hear. I like Tony a lot, and wish him well, but this is really rather a trudge.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very good book, and a well written one. A pleasure to read even without knowing who Iommi is (difficult to believe, but I am meeting more and more young morons who never heard Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple). We knew before Ozzy's view of the story (I Am Ozzy), and finally we've got to hear the Iron Man. A bit reserved maybe, but written with a lot of decency and respect towards fellow musicians (not only Sabbath, but other acts too).I might disagree with the place of Ronnie James Dio in the history of Black Sabbath, or how the later albums (post-Ozzy) were rated, but - that's the book by Tony Iommi, and that's his story. No need to talk too much about it - must read
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Format: Hardcover
Black Sabbath from a non Ozzy-centric point of view. Finally, we hear from another voice, learn of different characters, and, best of all, are treated to some new stories. I like Ozzy as much as the next guy, but there are only so many times you want to hear the same stories, about the same person, told from the same point of view. With "Iron Man", Mr. Iommi manages to bring a breath of fresh air in to a well worn story; we see that there was far more to Black Sabbath than just Ozzy Osbourne.

Having said that, I must point out one glaring flaw in this work; while there was a professional writer involved in creating the book, TJ Lammers, there remains the need for a better novelization of Iommi's reflections. The book ultimately read much more like a compilation of journal entries, than a fluid biography. The chapters are extremely short and fail to feed in to one another, creating a choppy feel to the story telling. One is left with the impression that Mr. Lammers compiled a series of interview highlights to tell the story, rather than used the interviews as research for the story.

Shortcomings aside, "Iron Man" provides a much needed alternative take on the subject matter; a better understanding of both Black Sabbath and Tony Iommi.
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