Sabbath bloody sabbath
10am - I'm writing the Black sabbath chapter today for my book on Rockfield. The band recorded a handful of albums there in the late eighties and nineties but in the 70's they pretty much rehearsed there before every album. During their first rehearsal there they blew all the slates off the roof of the rehearsal room with the sheer volume of their performance.
A few weeks ago I interviewed Graham Wright (See picture above): a former roadie for Sabbath and a tech for drummer Bill Ward. He was working on the Rollings Stones tour which had arrived at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. It's a huge tour. The band are using three stages. So two of them are being set up in advance while the third is in use by the band. Each stage requires forty trucks to take the stage set and equipment around Europe. Graham took me backstage and it was like a small town. People everywhere. Washing machines and fridges set up all along the inside of the stadium and massive dining areas to cater for the hungry masses. To see more on behind the scenes at the Stones tour check out Graham's blog
and its worth getting a copy of Graham (and David Tangye's) book 'How Black Was My Sabbath' - a roadies' eye view of the world of sabbath. These two guys when everywhere with the band and have some amazing stories to tell. It's an hysterical read.
I'm starting my Sabbath chapter with a great story about Ozzy fishing at Rockfield and being attacked by a Swan! A matchup between the Prince of Darkness and a white fluffy bird. Guess who wins!!! Seconds out round one!!!!
Here's a brief extract from my interview with Graham.
"Ozzy loved guns and always had a shotgun in the boot of his car - he always drove but i don't think he ever passed his driving test!
At Rockfield he was forever shooting. Especially in the early hours of the morning to wake everyone up before an early start to rehearsals. It used to annoy everyone. Especially Bill Ward. He'd always stand outside Bill’s room and fire off a few cartridges to get him up.
We really enjoyed it. We’d go into Rockfield to do our shopping and we’d cook for ourselves. We used to take turns. Ozzy loved cooking a curry.
We put a dart board up in one of the rooms and we’d play darts all nights. Tony Iommi used to love it. When they got boredl as rehearsals ground to a halt they’d play darts all night. We didn’t really drink all that much when we were rehearsing. It’s like this rock and roll myth that you drink and take drugs 24 hours and day but it wasn’t like that. They were very serious about writing and working out songs. We’d go out and have a few pints in the town but I’d say the drink and drugs weren’t prevalant at Rockfield. We'd do stuff occasionally and smoke the odd joint.
They were more into weja boards were Sabbath. They used to scare each other to death.
You'd heard one of the band members saying ‘I’m not sleeping in that room anymore.
There’s somebody in there!'
They were great at winding each other up --- at playing pranks on each other.
Bill was always the victim. We’d sneak into his room and pretend to be ghosts. We put a mirror over his face one night and woke him up. He came down the next morning and said 'I woke up and there was something horrible staring at me! I couldn't get back to sleep. It was terrifying!!!' - and it was his own face!"
....So this chapter should be an easy one to write. There are so many great stories to tell.
I took a break from the book last night to go and see a terrific concert. It was Jon Anderson (see picture above) and Rick Wakeman from Yes doing an evening of acoustic Yes music at St David's Hall in Cardiff. On stage they simply had an acoustic guitar and grand piano. They were both very funny as well. When Jon's guitar broke down, the Yes singer started telling a lame joke about 'a penguin going into a bar to look for his brother. He asked the bar tender if he'd seen his brother and the barman replies "I don't know. What does he look like?"
At this point Rick groans and begs the guitar tech - beaving away on Jon's guitar - please tell me it's fixed!!!!
When Jon tells the audience that when he was young, he and some freinds believed you could smoke banana skins to get high, Rick butts in with 'So that explains a lot of those lyrics then!' It was an entertaining night. The songs were great (the ran through Yes classic such as Awaken, Yours is no Disgrace, And You And I etc) - and the on stage chat was amusing. A good night all around.
Rock Legends at Rockfield is to be published by The University of Wales Press in summer 2007.