Tales of Rock – Tony Iommi

Birmingham was an industrial town in the Sixties, “much like our Detroit.” He had been welding, but grew infatuated with making music, playing guitar and accordion. When a band he was playing in wanted to tour Europe, he decided he’d take the rest of the day off from welding, but his mother sent him back to finish off the day. “They put me on a huge machine, a massive thing, and I didn’t know how to work it,” he said. “As I was pushing the metal into the machine, it came down with such a force and bang, it just chopped my fingers. There was blood going all over the place.”

A co-worker had put his fingertips in a matchbox and sent him to the hospital, but doctors told him he could never play again. “I was extremely depressed and very down,” he said. “The manager of the factory came to visit me at home…and then he told me the story about Django Reinhardt, who had lost his fingers.”

Feeling inspired, he created makeshift fingertips, invented light-gauge strings, dropped his tuning and explored a number of other ways he could play guitar. The combination led to an “aggressive, raw and fat” sound that became Black Sabbath’s signature style.

“Of course, losing my fingertips was devastating, but in hindsight it created something,” he said. “It made me invent a new sound and a different style of playing, and a different sort of music. Really, it turned out to be a good thing off a bad thing.”

Thank you Tony, for 45 years of joy!

 

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Tales of Rock: Swedish Metal Fiasco – Ghost – Part 3

Ghost is a Swedish heavy metal band that was formed in Linköping in 2006. In 2010, they released a 3-track demo followed by a 7″ vinyl titled “Elizabeth”, and later their debut full-length album Opus Eponymous. The Grammis-nominated album was widely praised and significantly increased their popularity. Their second album and major label debut Infestissumam was released in 2013, debuted at number one in Sweden, and won the Grammis Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Album. The band released their third studio album, Meliora, in 2015, to much critical acclaim and high record sales, reaching number one in their home country of Sweden, and number eight in the United States. Its lead single, “Cirice”, earned them the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance.

Ghost is easily recognizable owing greatly to its eccentric on-stage presence. Five of the group’s six members, its ‘Nameless Ghouls,’  wear virtually identical, face-concealing costumes. The most distinguishable member is its vocalist, called ‘Papa Emeritus’, who wears a prosthetic mask of skull face paint and appears as what can be described as a “demonic anti-Pope.”  Each album cycle has brought about a change in the band’s appearance. Though the vocalist is always portrayed as roughly the same archetypal character, there are slight appearance changes, and even altered personality traits from former versions.

All of the band members’ true identities were kept anonymous until 2017, when five former members revealed themselves, four of whom filed a lawsuit against the lead singer Tobias Forge, marking the confirmation of his true identity.

Church and I get to the venue around 8:45pm. It’s hot as hell this summer. They check our ID’s at the door and stamp our hands. We go through security like it’s a fucking airport. I have to take out my keys and show them to the nice lady who is patting me down and I just pretend she’s fondling me for a second.

Then I see my adorable young friend Emily! (See: Emily – 2015 to Present – Super Baby Sister) I forgot she works here at the Fillmore. I love little Emily. I give her a hug and I feel all of the rage that I had bottled up for the last four days simply drain out of me. I’ll have to bear that in mind on the next occasion I’m angry. Simply hug a cute girl.

Church and I hit the bar. He gets a coke because he’s not drinking. But buys me a vodka and tonic. Free drinks always make me feel better. We walk around and check out the venue. He’s never been here before. The Fillmore is one of my favorite places to see a show. It’s an old refinery that’s been converted to a concert hall. So it’s very spacious. They have a big open lobby area, then there is a bar called the Foundry as you get inside. To the left is the main concert area. And again, that’s very spacious as well. There’s a huge long bar in there as well. It’s just the perfect place to see shows. This is a general admission show so there is no seating. Church tells me the show is sold out, and the place is packed. But not the bar area. So I’m happy to just sip my drink and I’ll watch from the back.

The show starts and the band comes out and hits it. Ghost is the antithesis of Catholicism where they worship the devil. They are lead by Papa Emeritus whose costume is similar to that of the Pope. Ghost had been to Philly before opening for Avenged Sevenfold in 2013. That lineup consisted of Papa Emeritus II who has since been replaced with Papa Emeritus III.

Ghost’s tour to the smaller venues is an amazing show as their light show is one of the best I have seen. The lights enhance their songs perfectly. They stay with the Catholicism theme using a thurible during one of their songs. Giving sacrament by using two ladies from the audience to give communion wafers and wine. Ghost has really reinvented their sound with Papa Emeritus III. The older songs do sound better with the new Papa. Hearing “Cirice” live reinforced the Grammy Award as it a perfect song. The Nameless Ghouls wore masks that would represent Moloch as well.

Like I said before, I don’t know anything about this band, but they rocked out and the guitar work was solid. I didn’t know any of the songs but near the end I was swaying and tapping to the music. If Duncan were here he’d be head thrashing. I always wonder why most people I see at concerts just stand there. I always move with the music. Maybe because I’m a musician.

All in all I had a good night and didn’t spend a bunch of money. So by the end of the night I was happy again, and making plans to see Emily one of these days for a Sugar Baby night of drinks.

But like I said in the last chapter of this trilogy. Never again will I get roped into someone else’s plans. NEVER AGAIN!

Church wants me to go to Las Vegas to see Billy Idol at the Hard Rock casino in October to celebrate his 9 months of sobriety. Never happening. I love Billy Idol, but that dude is sixty and I don’t gamble and why would I spend that kind of money to go to something I have no interest in? Church needs to pull himself together and do whatever he needs to do, but my life is magical enough without going to Vegas.

I’m happy with my life the way it is. I’ve done so much and lived so much. I continue to live in the now and feel life’s energy. I get my energy from people and I love that. I am full, and they keep pouring it on.

I’m fine. Daughter is fine and we’re hitting on all cylinders. She gets it and of course so do I. I’m surrounded by some empty lost souls. I’ll help them but that shit gets tiring. Let go of the bars of your prison and walk the fuck out.

 

 

 

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Tales of Rock: Swedish Metal Fiasco – Church – Part 2

I tell Church about how Duncan bailed on the show. He thinks that’s fucked up but is all amped to go see Ghost at the Fillmore.

I on the other hand I’ve been working my ass off at my job, the salon and getting the fitness center off the ground. I don’t even feel like going now that Duncan isn’t coming up. But Church bought a ticket and now I have to go. I swear, if he wasn’t so amped to go, I wouldn’t even have opened the email from Duncan with the tickets in it. I would have just finished my shift at the salon, and  went home.

I find I have had such a big busy life and have enjoyed the people and events and places in this city, I’m like a seasoned New Yorker now. People that have lived in Manhattan for years usually don’t go out much. I’m like that now.

I especially don’t like getting dragged into something I’m not interested in. I don’t know who the hell Ghost is, and I have no interest in seeing them live. My life is plenty exciting enough. I don’t need to truck up to the Fillmore in 100 degree weather, and go through a pat down, and then pay $8 for a vodka and tonic plus tip. I don’t like crowds and metal shows are always crowded with a bunch of scruffy ruffians.

I hardly even listen to metal anymore. I’m literally having anxiety about going to this show. I even thought on several occasions of emailing the tickets I have to Church and telling him I’m sick and he can take two other people. I just really don’t want to do this.

I’m even more pissed off at Duncan for setting up this whole shit show and then bailing three days before the show. What a dick. All because of the money aspect. He’s rich! What the hell?

Once he bailed on this show, I told Achilles I could work that night, because I figured, Doors open at 7pm. Warm up act goes on at 8pm. Headliner goes on sometime after 9pm. That’s how most bands and venues roll. I finish work at 8pm so after some final clean up I close the doors around 8:30. I don’t give a shit about the warm up act so I’ll get there when I get there.

I’m miserable about this. Church told me earlier that day he was driving down from Lancaster (Who knows why) and will meet me at the venue. I’m thinking, great. I can focus on the salon, no distractions during closing, and get an UBER to the Fillmore around 8:30-8:45.

I plan on ordering dinner. I can eat in peace, get my drinking armor on for the show and I’ll be fine.

Don’t I get a text around 7pm that fucking Church is now going to come pick me up. He’s been to the salon dozens of times. He must be familiar with when I normally get out of there. I’m like fuck! I have to order my food now because I want to eat in private. I really don’t want him to come here because it’s going to turn stressful.

He gets there around 8pm. Why couldn’t he have just cruised by at 8:30 and I could have just hopped in and off we go? No. He has to go park, and come up to the salon. I’m barely civil when he arrives. But behind him in comes my food delivery guy and I’m delighted to see him.

Now the fucking pressure is on. Fucking Church is talking about his parking and worrying about his mirror. He wants to help with folding the towels. I’m rage eating my food.

“You’re inhaling that!” he says.

Why couldn’t he have just gone to the fucking Fillmore and I could have met him there? Because he’s never been to the Fillmore and he didn’t want to go there alone. You’re a grown fucking man! Sack up and act like one! You were in the military! Where’s your nuts?

Then I have to go to the bathroom.  Church is actually concerned that I’m going to defecate rather than urinate because of the time factor. This is ridiculous. It’s all a waste of time.

I am so fucking angry at Duncan and now Church. We finally get out of the salon. I need a cigarette. Church lets me smoke in his car, thank God. He drives like a maniac through the streets pf Philly and I’m genuinely frightened and feeling a headache coming on.

We finally get to the venue and Church is practically running to get in there. He’s creating this whole stress level that shouldn’t even be here. I just tell him I’ll catch up and get there when I get in there and he slows down.

We get into the venue and the warm up act is done, and nothing is happening. So all of that pressure, and stress and speeding to the venue was all for naught. I knew it would play out this way. I just need to get some alcohol into me so I can chill out.

I vow tonight that I am never letting any of this happen to me ever again. I’m not going to any event I don’t really want to go to ever. My life is better than it’s ever been, and I’m not going to let anyone fuck up my smooth glide anymore.

So if you’re reading this do the right thing. Don’t ask me again!

(I see during final edit that whatever shitty Ghost video I posted on here is now unavailable. I’m not even going to bother replacing it. Because I don’t give a shit!)

 

 

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Tales of Rock: Swedish Metal Fiasco – Duncan – Part 1

“You should come up! We’ll rock out and you can see your family. No one ever laid on their deathbed and said, ‘I should have spent more time at the office.”

My buddy Duncan reached out to me a couple of months ago. He’s the one who works all the time at the bank in commercial real estate in North Carolina and makes tons of money. He’s completely driven by succeeding and earning, so he’s lost all site of the little things in life.

But I thought there was still hope when he sent me some music clips from a Swedish heavy metal band called Ghost. I thought it was pretty good, but I’m not thrilled with metal in general anymore. I’m just not that angry. I enjoy music that’s a bit softer now as I’m well into middle age.

A few weeks later he texts me that Ghost is playing at the Fillmore here in Philly. He says he’s buying two tickets and flying up to see them with me. I’m thrilled that I’m going to spend time with my old friend. I wouldn’t care if we’re going to see the Wiggles, I’m just happy to hang with my buddy.

He also tells me he’s staying up here a couple of days because his sister is getting married on Saturday. Ghost is on Thursday so I figure I’ll take off a few days and do stuff around the city with him until Saturday. It’ll be awesome just like the last time he came up.

I was hanging in a bar with my friend Church having some food and drinks when that text came through. Church says he loves Ghost. He wants to go too. I figure the more the merrier. Church buys a ticket on Stub Hub, and now we’ll all go rock out.

Three days before the show, (I’ve already asked for the time off) Duncan texts me that he’s not coming up now. He states that it will cost him $1000 for everything round trip and he just doesn’t want to spend the money. (This clown will be a millionaire by the time he’s fifty years old in two years!) What the hell?

He says it always costs him that much with air fare hotel, transportation, etc.

“Dude. Listen to yourself. You’re close to being a fucking millionaire.  A thousand bucks is like piss in the ocean to you!”

“I just don’t want to spend that much money on anything right now. Got to stay focused.”

“What about your sister’s wedding?”

“I’d rather do a longer fun filled trip and spend a thousand dollars rather that a quick up and back for a ‘questionable’ second wedding.”

“Oh, come on! This was your idea!”

“I’m emailing you the tickets now.”

“You suck! Church already bought his ticket.”

“Well you can bring someone else, or sell the ticket or give it away.”

“I think you’re making a mistake. Dude, you work a lot, you like this band and can totally afford to take a break and come up and enjoy the show. Live a little!”

“I would have really liked to see this band with you, they are good but a little different than what we’re accustomed to listening to.”

“You should come up! We’ll rock out and you can see your family. No one ever laid on their deathbed and said, ‘I should have spent more time at the office.”

“You sound like my mother.”

“Fine.”

 

 

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Tales of Rock – Zakk Wylde Accidentally Survived A Fatal Disease By Drinking All Of The Time

“Because you are shitfaced, all of the time.”

As a guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, Zakk Wylde isn’t a stranger to the world of wild partying, it’s fair to say. His last name is literally the word “wild” as spelled by a drunk person. We wouldn’t be surprised to hear that this is the only reason he got into rock music.

However, after a monthlong bout of extreme illness finally forced him to see a doctor, Wylde discovered that he was suffering from a rare blood condition that caused his body to overproduce blood clots, which are things that can suddenly kill you at any moment without warning. Furthermore, he’d been suffering from the condition for several years. Wylde sagely asked how the hell he had managed to stay alive for so long with such a deadly affliction, to which the doctor responded, “Because you are shitfaced, all of the time.”

You see, the treatment for Wylde’s condition involves a course of strong blood thinners, which slow down the rate at which blood clots develop. You know what else thins the blood? Alcohol. Zakk Wylde’s years of being heroically wasted saved his life, although nowadays he’s banned from booze and restricted to taking standard medicine, which we feel is a little unfair to the booze.

 

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Duncan – Concentrated Dosage – Part 3 – Saturday Night

Me: “What would happen if you didn’t inject your medicine every week, Duncan?”

Duncan: ” I would turn into a chair.

We walk all the way from the river back to the hotel. I loved the film. Go see it. We stop at the bar and have a couple of drinks. Duncan does his rum driven white russians, and I go with Manhattans and old fashions. Duncan says all the drinks are on his room, so all of this has fixed the missing bottle of Grey Goose he promised me. (See: Phicklephilly – The case of the Missing Bottle of Vodka)

I’ll get my hands on that sometime soon. I have a really nice bottle of rare South African rum for him that I can offer up for trade if I have to!

We decide we’re both hungry and can’t sustain ourselves on popcorn and sugar. I decide to take him over to Tavern on Broad because I have drink tickets. We get there and the vibe just isn’t working. We leave and I have an idea. We go to the place my friend Prova works, and is owned by the Uncle of my partner at the tanning salon, Achilles. (Prova – 2016 to Present – Glow of the Sun and Achilles – 2016 to Present – The Bronze God)

We head over there and it’s choice. We get a table and Prova is there and so is the owner, Achilles, uncle. It’s all good. We have a glorious dinner and the service is great. He’s drinking his usual and I’m having a Manhattan. It’s a great place and the vibe is good.

Lovely Prova comes over to the table to chat near the end and I introduce her to Duncan. He agrees she’s smoking hot and sweet and we’re having a great day. We split the check and it’s time to go see the German heavy metal band UDO at the Trocadero in Chinatown.

Time is tight and we need to grab an UBER to get there on time for the show. Duncan planned this gig eight months ago so I need to be on point for my pal. It’s his weekend and his night. I can’t fuck this up. I want him to be happy and not miss any of it. We step onto Sansom street and the car is on its way. The driver can’t get it together and ends up a block away from us. I think more taxi drivers in this city are packing it in on being taxi drivers and going for UBER and Lyft because there is more money in it and it’s the future. But they’re struggling with it.

Fuck it. We’re in the car, and I’m paying for it with my $600 in UBER credits from my previous job. Thank you ME, deadly sales guy and my previous employer.

We get to the venue and the opening act is on. They’re a tight metal band and we like them, but we immediately identify that the singer sucks and needs to go. That happens with metal heads. We want quality and can identify it instantly. Priest. Maiden. come on. You can have the hair and the moves but if you can’t sing amazing for your band… you’re out. But we’re happy to be there because UDO is coming for Duncan. He’s going to do a bunch of songs from his former band Accept and that’s why Duncan flew up here this weekend and planned this trip eight months ago.

They finish and some time passes, and UDO comes out. Now to refresh, this is a Duncan band. I have turned this clown onto some of the greatest rock and metal on the Earth and I am here now about to see a band where I only know one of their songs from the eighties.

Nothing else. Let’s see how this unfolds.

UDO hits the stage and he is a very rotund German gentleman. Duncan says he’s fatter than he remembers. He’s a sixty something, fat, bald dude that’s ready to rock. He has a Finnish and a Russian guitar player at his side. Both of these guys are deadly musicians that are hot and smile while they shred through the songs of Accept. These guys are amazing. I rock out to the unfamiliar songs like they’ve been written by AC/DC. This band is fantastic.

UDO sings like Bon Scott, the long dead lead singer from AC/DC and the band is tighter than a crab’s ass. (that’s water tight!) I love his band. The guitarists are amazing musicians and elegant showman. I can see the show is choreographed, but I love it. They are sooo good. Their personalities are coming through in the show. I love it.

Just like Aerosmith.

Just like me. What I wanted to do in music, and what I do in my everyday life. Push the energy outward into the people around you, and it will all come back to you so bright and wonderful so you can give it again.

That’s how I felt that night with Duncan.

The show was long. He played for two and a half hours! It was magnificent but I could see that Duncan was getting tired. This was his night but even he was folding. I loved this band, but at our age after the first finale, and one encore, we’re done.

They finally leave the stage and so do we. Duncan always does this thing when we go to shows. He always gets the set list and as much info on the show as possible. I’m not into presents or holidays or birthdays, but I like to be surprised by art. Men don’t like to be surprised, but we like to be delighted. But I feel like Duncan takes the mystery out of the musical acts we see, because he knows what they are going to play. I prefer to just show up at your concert, art gallery or movie and just light me up. But Duncan always knows what they are going to go play before hand. He’s always been this way. I never understood this. Part of seeing live music performed by the guys you love was about the surprise. What will these guy play next? Oh I love that. But Duncan always knows the playlist.

Duncan: What did you think of the show?

Me: That was the greatest rock show you’ve ever taken me to where I only know one song by the band. I LOVED it!

We leave the venue and are walking back to the Ritz Carlton. It’s like we’re in our thirties again. Maybe even our twenties. Duncan has rheumatoid arthritis and has to deal with that every day. He’s always been fit and been working out, and this is a disease that wants him. My mother got RA in her late forties and it was with her until her death.

Duncan has this and it kills me. My Mom had this and I watched her suffer. Here is my friend with the same health issue.

Me: “What would happen if you didn’t inject your medicine every week, Duncan?”

Duncan: ” I would turn into a chair.

We leave Chinatown and walk towards Broad street. Duncan and I cross Broad street. A famous street in Philly. A block from the foot of Billy Penn. We’ve had a glorious couple of days, and I didn’t have to have this fucker at my house for two days.

This has been wonderful and peaceful with my old friend. Drinks, food, games, movies and metal. No strippers or vice. We’re good. We don’t need that. Our connection and our history is our glue. I love Duncan.  I’m happy that we’ve reconnected and sustained our friendship.

We arrive back at the Ritz, and take a seat at the bar. Duncan closes with his signature Rum Russian, I lean into the Manhattan.

In an hour we hug and promise to hang again before memorial day. I step out onto Broad street, (Avenue of the Arts) and make my way home.

I’ve had amazing weekend with an old friend. Duncan and I are connected and there’s no breaking that bond.

 

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