Δευτέρα 29 Οκτωβρίου 2012

One more Heavy Metal week - Chapter II: Tony Martin

The chapter is opened and the pages are turned...

the Manilla Road memories are still in my head (and heart) and forever will be. But I was also expecting another visit this week. Tony Martin would be in Greece for a few days, we spoke about it and arrange at the last day of his visit (October 18) a “Meet n’ Greet / Signing Session” at No Remorse record store. It seems that we were unlucky… Everything was set perfectly, some interviews were also arranged, but that day, there was a national strike in Greece, so we decided to cancel the event. However, at the same day (or night to be specific!) the German Heavy Metal armada Accept would perform live in Athens. Tony told me that he would love to see live the guys! He knew them from his Black Sabbath days and they played a couple of shows back then. Straight away, I booked him two tickets (one for him and one for his lovely lady) and we were ready for the show! Despite the strike, one interview was done at noon, with Chris Kissadjekian from Metal Hammer magazine. Well… It’s not right to tell you what was said during this exclusive interview, except from the things I knew and discuss with Tony, mainly from his Black Sabbath years. Anyway, after the interview, I picked him from the hotel in the center of Athens and we went for dinner. Thank God, he is not vegetarian!

Back in the mid 80s, Tony was a member of a band called The Alliance, a melodic AOR band with only a few demo recordings and not any official release. They were based in Birmingham, the birthplace of Heavy Metal, and one day, his manager told him that he would take him to an important meeting. He didn’t say where and with whom… When they arrived at the meeting place/house, the door opened. “Hi” said a voice. He was Tony Iommi. Tony (Martin) was shocked and speechless for a while. Black Sabbath had some issues at that period… Their singer at that time was Ray Gillen, but he left to form Badlands with ex-Ozzy guitarist Jake E. Lee. The recordings for the upcoming Black Sabbath album “The Eternal Idol” were finished, even if it took them many months. Gillen had recorded the vocals, but since he wasn’t in the band, a new voice was required. Black Sabbath gave Tony only one week to finish the vocals, even if they were composing / recording for more than a year. Tony did an excellent job. He recorded all the vocals from the beginning, without meeting anyone else from the band in the studio. They gave him Gillen recordings as a “guide” and “The Shining” was the first song he sung to take the part.

During the whole discussion, Tony had a kind of bitterness when he was speaking for Black Sabbath, “When we were traveling with plane, they were in the first class with campaign and wine, and I was in the back with chicken and dogs…”

“Headless Cross” was actually his “first” Black Sabbath album, composed and recorded as a band, but “Tyr” was the album that made him realize that actually he is a member of Black Sabbath, the greatest Heavy Metal band ever. The sad thing is that when he was realizing where he is and where he stands, they “fired” him to call back Ronnie James Dio and record “Dehumanizer”. “They stopped calling me", recalls Tony, "They didn’t reply to my calls. No one told me I was off the band.”

He met only once Dio, but Ronnie wasn’t very polite with him… It was during a time when the Sabbath guys start calling him again. They invited him at a concert, just like nothing was happening. They were happy “Nice to see you!” and stuff like that. He understood that something was wrong with Dio. Personally, I like “Dehumanizer”, but it seems like a break for all of them. Tony had time to record his first personal album “Back Were I Belong” and Sabbath had “Dehumanizer”. The next Black Sabbath studio album, “Cross Purposes” is Tony’s favorite Sabbath album - “It has the ‘biggest’ sound” - But the last one (“Forbidden”) is the worst for him. 

Tony had strong memories from his first Sabbath shows in Russia. By the way, his first ever live show with Black Sabbath was the one on Greece! In Russia, they played two shows each day for two weeks! One show at noon and one later at night. Thousands of people came and go in a huge stadium. 
Tony Martin remembers: “It was like thousands of people entering in the stadium, clapping and then leave. After a few hours thousands of different people enter. In the front line, almost 20 meters away from the stage, there were always the officialdom, like the mayor and his people, family… There was even a grandma in a wheel chair once, in the front line… knitting under the rhythm of Iron Man!”

Tony has very fond memories from Cozy Powell. He was very sad about his death. It was a car accident. A friend (girl) called him and asked for his help because her husband was beating her. Cozy, left everything and drove at her home. He was talking to her at phone saying he is going there, when the accident happened… After his death, they gave a concert in his memory. In the front line, there was a woman holding something like a jar. The same jar was left under the drum kit during the show. This woman was the one that called Cozy… When the band told her that they felt Cozy’s presence there, she said that he was with them. His ashes were in this jar…

Well… you all might know other stories, so I don’t have to add more here. After our dinner, I left Tony at the hotel and picked him up later, with my good friend Dimitris Sirinakis and his son, and we all went at Fuzz Club for Accept! Tony wanted to enter the venue before the show to meet the Accept boys. I tried my best for that, thanks to Hakos Pervanidis who was very helpful. We all went backstage and was funny to see Peter Baltes or Herman Frank hanging around. Tony took his VIP pass, spend some time with Accept and then we stood by the right side of the stage to watch the live show. The support band, Marauder from Greece are huge fans of Accept and they played were they should be. Excellent performance and their drummer, Grigoris, is a huge Cozy Powell & Black Sabbath fan and he was very happy to see Tony there. After a while he wore his hand-made Cozy Powell t-shirt! They even offer Tony a copy from their last album. Nice guys, great band, Heavy Metal! 

The time had come for Accept to walk the stage… Amazing performance! Even if half of the set are new songs, they already sound like the classic ones. Wolf Hoffmann remains a metal icon and they also enjoyed the show. I did, Tony did, everyone did, and the beers… oh, the beers…

After the show, we went to Revenge Of Rock Club. It was arranged that Tony would be there, so few fans were expecting him. We stayed for almost an hour at the club, he signed some CDs, took photographs and had great time there. We all did. And the beers… oh, the beers… Too many for one night, but I needed to escape for a while from the wine overdose of the last days!

Tony’s flight was leaving after a couple of hours and the time was already 02:00. So, until the next time, we said goodbye, and I hope that the next time he will be in Greece, it will be for a live show…

Mark Shelton and Manilla Road, Accept, Tony Martin, wine and beers, Heavy Metal and many good friends… What else do you need in one week? I think I can’t ask for more…

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