Friday, May 1, 2009

Tales From The Abyss PT. 4: Chernobyl Chickens At Wounded Knee

This final installment, in fact all the installments of "Tales from the Abyss" are dedicated to the late great "LUG" who was the greatest crew person and kindest soul you could ever ask for. Even after his passing our thoughts are still with him as he was a guardian angel to all of us on this tour. God Bless You, brother. You are very much missed.

The giant blue tour bus from Newcastle, England with the word "Liberty" painted on the side came roaring into Hungary with a cargo of heavy metal misfits calling themselves Cathedral and Godspeed! We arrived at the border welcome center and had our precious Deutsch marks exchanged for ragged Hungarian money which our tour managers simply referred to as "shitters". After doing the transaction I remember thinking, "Wow! I sure did get a lot of shitters for my money!"

Locals in Budapest sweeping up "Shitters" out of the street.

We were playing the giant circular arena in the center of Budapest and the promoters expected a large turn out of fans for the doom metal extravaganza with Black Sabbath, Cathedral and Godspeed. When we arrived we were met by a buzzing metropolitan beehive packed with pedestrians and cable cars. This town was a perfect example of old world Europe at it's finest with all it's ancient Gothic architecture intact. I have never seen so many cathedral spires in my life.

The enormous Budapest Arena looking much like the mother ship from "Close Encounters" was the site of my first show ever in an eastern block country.

The beautiful city of Budapest was the backdrop for Cathedral's crack-up during the Black Sabbath tour of 1994.

Now that we had some national currency we could go about finding some lunch as catering wouldn't start until dinner time because of our late load in. We soon found out that there were loads of Americans in town and almost everyone spoke a little English. It seems that a lot of American kids extend their educations in Budapest because it's cheap, exotic and the quality schooling there is second to none.

As I said in my last blog, Victor's girlfriend flew back to the states from Hamburg and it seems his small slice of heaven was now temporarily over until the tour's finish and his arrival back home in the U.S.. He was now facing a reality check that would prove to bring on his worst anxiety attack ever!

Later that night, we played a gig to the biggest audience so far on the tour. I think there were around 6,000 people there. The stage was 20 feet in the air above the crowd. If any one of us fell off the edge it would most definitely mean being hospitalized in traction for months or even death from a broken neck!

This is a photo of Queen at the same venue, just to show you the enormity of the place and the turn out for Sabbath and Cathedral was similar.

After the show Victor was in a funk and told us that he had contemplated diving off the stage head first to end it all. Lee Dorian said "What do you mean? That was the biggest and best audience so far on the tour! Isn't this what we are all living for?" He replied, "I know, I know but you guys just don't understand."

Quite frankly, Victor wasn't going to fill us in on what "we didn't understand" anyway. He just flat out refused to be positive about anything. At this point I was done trying to make him enjoy what should have been a wonderful milestone in his career as a guitarist and if I was to continue I would be endangering my own once in a lifetime experience. After all he is an adult. There was only so much I could do for him, even as a best friend. Already the Sabbath camp had figured out that Victor and I came on the tour as a package deal on loan from Pentagram and they automatically lumped me in to whatever he did that might be troublesome to them. This became alarmingly evident as I was now catching the occasional evil eye from all of them and their entourage.

We all decided to go out on the town and cheer Victor up, Godspeed included as it would be many hours before we would leave town. I was walking ahead of everyone with Scott Carlson and my drum tech Rudy when suddenly we heard loud banging and yelling. We could see Victor, Lee Dorian, Gaz and the Godspeed guys throwing cafe menu boards across the road and chairs being flipped over and tossed also in to the road! Things were getting hairy and it was all spearheaded by Victor who had now downed a healthy load of drinks.

The entourage caught up with us and we ducked into a sleazy little bar that had dancers baring it all through a clear Plexiglas ceiling. Everyone got settled down which I was thankful for. The horrible piped in Madonna songs made me sick but the booze was cheap and we eventually discovered a downstairs lounge that was much more private and would conceal any insanity that might ensue.

Suddenly a pack of prostitutes showed up who were propositioning us in their native tongue. Obviously this downstairs lounge was their pick-up area. They stuck it out with us despite all our drunken insults that were squarely aimed at them. They soon found out we couldn't care less and just kind of blended in to the weird drunken scene.

Just when we thought it was safe inside a warm cozy strip club some prostitutes showed up adding to the mix and soon Gaz and Lee were back to needling Victor which led to the famous blow-out!

Clearly, this was the biggest drunk we had all pulled on this tour. Rudy and I went to the upstairs bar to do the rest of our drinking as Victor was being needled in the downstairs bar by Lee and Gaz about his behavior at the gig and anything else they could come up with. To me it was pointless to keep bringing up Victor's negative behavior as it was just going to irritate him further. Unfortunately they did and it cost them!

I finally cried uncle to Rudy and suggested we get a cable car back to the tour bus parked at the arena before first light came. He agreed and off we went.

Rudy and I left the bar just in time before the fight broke out. We took our remaining money and got a cable bus ride out of there. We reeked of alcohol and the early morning locals going to work were trying their best to stay well away from us. We must have looked like death!

Somehow we got on the wrong car and we headed the wrong way to the other side of town. It was now light out and I realized that we were dangerously drunk and needed to get back as soon as possible to our bunks. We managed to get 3/4 of the way back when we saw the arena in the distance. Rather than take a chance at getting lost again, we got off at the next stop and staggered back to the bus on foot.

I went to push the lock button on the bus when I realized that the door was open which was odd. Inside I found Lee and Gaz sitting there staring into space. They had miraculously found their way back before us. I was relieved until Lee spoke to me and said, "Your friend Victor tried to kill me and I'm not doing any more shows with him! Gaz chimed in, "Yeah, it's over!" I'm thinking, "What the hell happened?" It seems that the both of them kept needling Victor back at the bar after Rudy and I left until he snapped and picked Lee up by the neck with one hand while his feet were dangling in mid air - effectively hanging him!

Rudy and I found Gaz and Lee back at the tour bus seriously shaken by an incident in the bar that we had left hours ago!

Lee said to me, "You better go have a word with your buddy!" I went to Victor's bunk and asked what had happened and that's when I found out the gory details. I was too smashed and tired to deal with it and slithered into my bunk only to get awakened 4 hours later by Victor telling me , "Joe! They're shipping me out!" I was still woozy and this suddenly had become a living nightmare! Victor told me that he was waiting for the taxi that would take him to the airport to catch the first flight back to Washington, D.C.! I told him that I loved him like a brother despite what had happened and that I would contact him when I got home in a month. We said goodbye and that was that.

Victor and I had to say some quick goodbyes as he was being shipped out of Hungary on the next plane.

I woke up later on and found Lee and Gaz threatening to quit the tour and go home. I looked at both of them and said "Do you really want to show the world how unprofessional you guys are? Secondly, do you want to crap out on your childhood idols Black Sabbath and leave them in a lurch without an opening band?" "This tour" I reminded them, "is supposed to have two opening acts!" I told them that if they didn't steer this ship back on course both Cathedral and Black Sabbath would suffer a lot of negative press. I told them that I did not want to be the guy that was responsible for marring these two band's careers and that if they were in their right minds they wouldn't want to be either!

Lee and Gaz were acting like stupid kids who didn't deserve the "big time" and I told them so. I said, "You know what you're going to do? You're going to pick up the pieces and carry on with your commitment to Sabbath and to yourselves! Otherwise you are just spineless wimps! Now get your shit together, we're going to play the biggest show on the tour in 2 days in Prague!" After much hemming and hawing , they agreed.

Our tour bus was now off and running to the next venue via a snowy mountain pass through the Carpathians. We came to the only structure standing in that part of the world to relieve ourselves, get a bite to eat and and perhaps make a phone call. Wouldn't you know it, we had parked in front of a strip bar in the middle of nowhere and the only food we would get would be a glass boot full of lager! We stayed awhile long enough for the bus driver. No one was speaking as everyone was in shock at Victor's departure. I think it finally set in that we were all complete alcoholics and that it was time to chill out or die!

The guys in Cathedral were very afraid of carrying on as a 4 piece but I knew instinctively that the band would sound tighter. Gaz had always used a second guitarist as a crutch so that if he screwed up a part the other guy could cover for him. Well, it was time for him to now take the reins as he should have long ago and become the excellent guitarist that he was destined to become!

The following day we arrived at the venue around the same time as the trucks carrying the stage gear. We were all just waiting for the venue to open it's doors. Prague's beautiful 10,000 seat Sazka Arena was going to be witness to a good old fashioned doom metal hootenanny and what a perfect setting among the Gothic spires and city walls!

Prague's Sazka Arena was host to the largest attended concert on the tour. This would be the proving grounds for the new 4-piece line up of Cathedral. The show was sold out!

The posters for the gig were all over town with a horrific image of an old zombiefied witch killer with white eyes and few teeth in the middle of a graveyard summoning the undead! I of course was in the middle of the road with the truck drivers in the Sabbath crew having some Jack Daniels and a spliff. It seems I was the only one on our bus who didn't learn his lesson about sobriety. Well, at least I didn't use it as a vehicle to do violence.

Godspeed delivered their set as usual that night and it was now time for Cathedral. Lee and Gaz were petrified at the prospect of playing the largest show we would be doing without the safety net of a second guitarist. I was eagerly anticipating it knowing that Scott Carlson and I would rise to the occasion like the professional rhythm section that we were and that the rest of the guys would fall right in line behind us. I was correct! We brought the house down of 10,000 strong and left them wanting more! Even Tony Iommi came up to Gaz and told him how much better we sounded as a four piece and that you could hear everyone's playing much better without the extra guitar that up until now had been muddying up the band's natural sound.

Now years later, I look back and think that Lee and Gaz weren't the only people doubting whether the existing 4-piece Cathedral could pull it off. Gaz and Lee have never turned back and obviously took Tony's views to heart. Gaz still goes it alone as guitarist and sounds great!

The next day we were off to Slovakia and when we reached the border the guards let us through the checkpoint after we gave them a load of t-shirts and CD's. Suddenly minutes after we pulled away we were told to pull over again in a plaza that was out of use. We saw the guards heading for the bus with guns and the whole bit. We were thinking, "this is it!" Time for cavity searches!" The guards stepped up in the bus with their military fatigues and a package wrapped in plastic. We're thinking what the hell is in that? It can't be good! One of the border patrol unwrapped the plastic from the cinder block size package only to reveal a kilo of high grade hashish! He said, "Anyone want to buy?" We all burst out laughing and shouted, "Yeah!" After that we were sent on our merry way! I later told the promoter of the next gig about this and he said, "That's what we in Slovakia call, free enterprise!"

Border guards stopped our bus a second time and then wanted to sell us hash!

Our next gig went smooth and the venue had set up a meet and greet complete with 20 bottles of Champagne. No one came though because Tony Iommi had kicked out all of the press that would be there. Apparently they had jumped the gun and hounded Tony for an interview before sound check barely letting the man get off the bus and into the venue. I remember him coming through the front doors of the place around 2:00 in the afternoon with little dark haired paparazzi crawling all over him like flies! The road crew successfully beat them back. Anyway, I was in the plush layout they had prepared for us all by my lonesome having caviar, cocktails and champagne when in walks Lee and Gaz. Both of them had smiles on their faces for the first time since the incident with Victor. Lee remarked to Gaz "Look at Joe, he's cool". I knew then that everything would work out fine for the rest of the tour and that they were glad that I had talked them in to continuing on.

The next night we found ourselves playing in Poland at a huge venue that looked like an armory. In fact the military was the security for this concert and there were tanks and jeeps lined up in front of the place with a tunnel leading to the front doors made of camouflaged canvas stretched over metal framework. The whole town smelled like sulfur from all the coal fires in the houses and the air was chalk white with the thick foggy smoke.

Gaz and I were video taping from the front of the venue in to the town and slow focusing in on random pedestrians when we spotted a metal chick with spiked arm bands, stripey white pants and multiple body piercings walking her dog. On closer inspection we discovered blood running down both of her arms where she had most likely just shot up heroin. Lovely!

Suddenly we noticed that the air was becoming statically charged and the sky turned dark and before we could speak it started hailing! It was coming down in bucket loads and didn't let up until the cloud had passed and 4 inches of quarter sized ice pellets had covered the ground all around us. We quickly ducked in in the venue and found our way in to the catering room for dinner when the caterer informed us that she was serving Chernobyl chickens. Apparently everything in this particular area of the world had been effected by the legendary nuclear power plant meltdown. All things living here both plant and animal were exposed and all of our food had come from the local markets. Bon appetit!

The gig went down great even though the military were obviously paranoid of the fans having a good time. I saw a kid get batoned by a soldier for attempting to get a look through one of the dressing room windows. His head was bleeding profusely! Chalk it up as another freaky gig on the Black Sabbath tour!

As we were loading out after the show, one of the truck drivers told us that MTV Europe was going to air the Stuttgart show from a few weeks earlier on TV and that he had a satellite dish in his truck and a TV to view it on. It was a very strange scene, me viewing myself for the very first time on MTV in the middle of Poland with the truck driver pointing his dish at the satellite from atop his truck as I finished digested glowing chicken meat.

At the polish concert one of Sabbath's truck drivers informed us that they were airing the Stuttgart concert on MTV and he just happened to have a portable satellite dish and TV monitor to watch it with!

We now headed for Fulda. If you remember the last few entries I had mentioned the Arch Bishop of that town. He had supposedly damned all of us who played a certain few gigs to eternal hellfire and especially the show in Fulda. Of course any believing born again Christian knows that judgment of souls is exclusive to the Lord God himself. This man was no prophet or saint or anything other than a cog in a denominational machine. I believe that he has faith but also enjoys the upper rooms and exclusive treatments of a bishop that have greatly warped his perception of himself versus the human family.

Yes! We were all sinners but some of us in our entourage had very deep running faith although we weren't exactly demonstrating it at the time. In my case I was running away from the hard truth of my mistakes in life and found a band aid in alcohol and pot. I'm sorry I put myself through that for so many years because today I am clean and sober and living as close to the Lord's bosom as possible and enjoy life and music so much more! As for the others in our clan of misfits I can honestly say that they have also changed their lifestyles for the better.

Cathedral at Fulda, Germany. The Arch Bishop of this town claimed that all of us involved with the Black Sabbath/Cathedral tour would be damned if we played in this city.

The gig was a small recreation center near a park and the Arch Bishop showed up with a scowl on his face but as the night progressed he found himself inside the gig watching the bands. I think he realized that we weren't the monsters that we seemed to be and that it is wrong to condemn others who don't share your exact views on philosophy or theology. After all, we are only human and all of us, the Arch Bishop included, are born in sin.

The next day we awoke to the sound of heavy rain and the bus was pulling in to downtown Leipzig. We stopped and made a mad dash into the venue which to our surprise was a massive "Tiki bar" complete with giant fake palm trees and plastic tropical flowers. An ideal setting for a doom metal concert, right? All the while it was just pissing down rain like I've never seen before. The rain was hitting the roof so hard that the whole place was humming.

I couldn't believe that our show in Leipzig would be held at a Tiki Bar!

We played the gig and sounded great that night. Strangely that was the beginning of a trend. We were starting to become a seriously heavy outfit since Victor's departure and now our new instrumentation was creating a whole new sound. We started giving Sabbath a run for their money. A fact that slowly turned some of them against us all over again.

We had to drive back into Austria once more for a show in Lienz. This small town was nestled deep in the Alps and sheer vertical peaks arose from all sides of the village giving the place a strange claustrophobic effect among it's natural alpine beauty. The sports hall was a small "A" framed gymnasium that Geezer later described as a wedding hall for Elvis impersonators. I went on a search for hairspray in the small downtown section near the railroad station. The hairdresser women who sold it to me looked at me as if I had just arrived from Venus. In some ways they were correct!

It took extra long to fit all the gear into the small venue so I decided to make myself scarce as not to bother the Sabbath bunch. As i was crossing the parking lot I heard a whistle then a "Hey Joe!" It was coming from a fan in a small yellow Italian sports car. He told me in perfect English that he had driven all the way from northern Italy to see me play the drums. He was a big Pentagram and Raven fan and apparently had all my albums. I pointed out to him all the huge peaks that surrounded the town and said that it was too bad that we couldn't get to the top of one of them. He said, "No problem, hop in and we'll go up one of them!" So off we went and sure enough we found a road that went straight up! we kept going and going and going as it got steeper and steeper to the point of imminent danger! It was very hard to turn around under those circumstances. What a view though! We made our way back down just in time for my sound check. This venue looked to me like a large Moose Lodge or something like that.

We did our usual set and then Black Sabbath hit the stage. It was a packed show but something seemed really wrong with this gig from the beginning. In the middle of their set some fans started throwing hypodermic needles at Geezer's feet until there was a medium sized pile of them there. Geezer walked off the stage and phoned Gloria and said that he was done and that this is what it had all come to. Personally I would have felt like jacking it in myself. This was a case of a very bad booking. I was so embarrassed for them that I nicked out to a local disco with Lee and Gaz to get away from the weird scene that was playing out. When we returned we found the road crew all bloodied and holding lead pipes. They looked like they had just been through a war and they had!

It seems that the entire crowd rioted after the gig and tried to steal all the gear off the trucks. Then the lead pipes came out. This had gone far beyond a bad booking and was now a full blown nightmare! It was at this time that I felt for them. Whether they liked us or not, they didn't deserve that kind of treatment, nobody does. From that point on we all stuck together in a strange sort of way.

The tour was now winding down with only a few more gigs to go. We still had to drive down to Italy for 2 shows, one in Florence and another in Milan. We made it the next afternoon into Florence and we had a day off to enjoy the ancient city that had been the home of Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo. It was notably hotter and we parked at the venue outside of town center. All of us were hungry and needed to find a money exchange and a restaurant. It took us all day to find this as the narrow streets of Florence are like a honeycomb and finding the center was next to impossible unless you live there. We all got our small bit of money and made it to the cultural center of town with all the museums and the famous El Duomo Cathedral. We just happened to get there at the same time as Sabbath and their crew. They shunned us like the plague. By this time we didn't really care as they had only said two words to us on the whole tour anyway.

We arrived at this medium size arena in Florence Italy early the next morning where we would be playing our next show. we parked our bus right in front of these stairs to get some much needed rest until it got so hot that we had to evacuate and go into town for some food and a cold one.

The streets of Florence were narrow and honeycombed the city with tall buildings on either side which made it difficult to know where you were going unless you had a map. The simple task of finding a money exchange was next to impossible .

El Duomo Cathedral was in the nerve center of Florence and this is where we found cash and also ran into Black Sabbath on a sightseeing tour. We were the last people that they wanted to see. We did our best to stay away from them and give them their space.

This bridge stretching over the river was probably the oldest thing standing in this miraculous city. It was after inspecting this that I found my troubles with Godspeed.

The afternoon dragged on into early evening and I started hanging out with Tommy from Godspeed and their drummer and bassist. They had toned it down a lot and were becoming more comfortable as a band and trying their best to be civil without letting too much of their bad boy attitude go, which was fine with me. Tommy and I got into some deep discussions about life in general and we both realized that we had giant chips on our shoulders from dealing with too many corrupt idiots masquerading as booking agents, promoters and A & R people. Tommy's upbringing in Asbury Park was a little rougher than mine in suburban D.C.. It obviously shaped his outlook on life and the music business. Bitter would be an understatement.

We started having a few drinks and decided to go on a Florence pub crawl where we instantly spent most of our remaining money.

Suddenly without warning, Tommy and Rob grabbed me, sucker punched me and threw me into a bullet proof glass window in the foyer of a closed bank. My head just bounced off the glass and my knee slammed into a marble ledge beneath the plate glass window crushing the cartilage in my left knee. I hit the ground. Then they picked me up, quite proud of what they had done, and set me up against a wall. I was seeing stars and with the added alcohol was more than disoriented. I'm sure I had a slight concussion. I tried walking up the street aimlessly and was saved by good old "Lug", our guitar tech who I had mentioned earlier in the story. He dragged me a couple of miles to the bus. How he got me there, I'll never know! I'm convinced to this day that God sent the man there where he would find me and take me to safety. Lug died from a broken heart years later because a judge thought him unfit to be a custodial father to his kid and favored his girlfriend but to me he will never know what a hero he was that fateful night in Italy.

The next day I awoke to find all the cartilage in my left knee disintegrated from the impact of the marble ledge against it. I had to hop around with my leg bent. I was really in a predicament and needed medical help. Black Sabbath's wardrobe mistress found me and went to find Geezer. Meanwhile Sabbath's stage manager and light man Keith Olsen asked me, "Are you going to play or not? Hurry up and tell me so I can get you guys off the bill!" He was an insensitive prick who I will never forget nor will I sing his praises!

Geezer finally showed up and asked "What happened to you, now?" I told him about Tommy and Rob and that he and his wife managed them and what were they going to do about this situation? I told him that clearly I needed some crutches or something! Nothing was done. It was ignored and swept under the carpet. Meanwhile I was hobbling everywhere I went. The strangest part of it was , as long as I had my knee bent I was not in pain which made it possible to actually play the drums but as soon as I stood up I would almost pass out from the pain.

Rather than bitch about my situation I decided to become super-human and continue on the tour for the final gigs. It didn't get any easier but I noticed that Geezer started hanging around a lot more and chatting with us. That was nice and all and I do appreciate it but it was hardly enough and in hindsight I should have sued them, the management and Tommy! To this day I can't jog. Jogging was one of my greatest pleasures in life. It prepared me for grueling concert tours and kept my weight down to a healthy norm all the while giving me an excellent feeling of well being. I could barely walk for 2 years and I still can't run for more than a few yards.

The next day we headed for Milan. There we were met by Paul Chain, guitarist from Death SS . I instantly hit it off with Paul and he saw the problem with my leg and sympathized with me. He cheered me up by calling a guy up from a drum magazine to do an interview with me a few blocks away at a pizza restaurant. I hobbled over there with him and did a cool interview. That was the first interview I had ever given to a drum magazine. I consider Paul one of my very dearest friends and he is a super guy! He turned my horror of a day in to a pleasant one! Musically we are both kindred souls and I assure you it was no random act of nature that we finally met.

Paul Chain, Italy's premier guitarist, rolled out the welcome wagon for me upon my arrival in Milan which is an act of kindness I will never forget!

Paul's friend, Carl had come to record Cathedral for a radio broadcast that later became a fantastic bootleg CD. We went down much better than Sabbath that night and it was all caught on tape!

While I was playing that gig broken knee and all , I turned to get my water and towel from my drum tech, Rudy and was surprised to find Bobby Rondinelli passing me my towels and water with a huge smile on his face. He even went to Tony Iommi and said, "Man, those guys are really good , have you actually sat down and listened to them?" Tony wanted no part of it and walked off. The truth was that Cathedral had started sounding more like the classic Sabbath line-up of Iommi, Osbourne, Butler and Ward than this new cabaret version of Sabbath. Whatever the case Mr. Iommi was not amused in the slightest.

At the show in Milan I turned to get my towel and water in the middle of the Cathedral set and instead of my drum tech Rudy handing them to me there was Bobby Rondinelli passing me my stuff with a big smile on his face.

He should have lightened up and realized that we were huge Sabbath heads and that our styles of playing had all been ultimately formed by their example. All of my bands have been accused for years of copycatting Sabbath but I know that musically Sabbath play correctly and that they have set the highest standards in metal. I'm a perfectionist and I want the best sounds that I can achieve. I won't settle for less! Tony Iommi is the most consistent guitarist I've ever seen or heard and night after night he does it right! Mistake free and professional! Geezer is also the best melodic bassist I have heard other than John Entwistle. So yes, I'm always going to sound a little bit like them.

We headed out of Italy and into Austria where we had a night off in Vienna and a gig there the following evening in a giant circus tent outside town. This was the first time I could get a real long hot shower without any distractions and take my good old time about it. I could see the big ferris wheel about a half mile away that had been left over from an old world exposition and had become one of Vienna's most recognized landmarks. I had played in the old city on the Danube many many times before with Raven. It felt at home again and back to reasonable sanity. I have lots of friends there and was sure that I would be seeing them all the next night.

The great Ferris wheel in Vienna , Austria was a welcome sight to me on the tour as it represented better times on previous Raven tours and the good friends that I would be seeing again at the show.

After I got myself all cleaned up and rested I hooked up with our caterer, "Mouse". She wanted to rave it up in a dance club and unwind from all the tension created by the demands of the tour.
She took me to a small bar where she could drink a lot of Red Bulls mixed with alcohol and dance her anxieties away. I didn't blame her and joined the bar tender/owner in rolling a giant spliff on the bar. I thought to myself, "Wow! You can't do this in the States and get away with it!"

The next night we played the venue and my friends Doris and Wolfgang from "Metal Axes Magazine" arrived just as I thought and we immediately made it for the dressing room but were stopped by Bob Ward, Sabbath's road manager. He said, "You know I can't let these people back here!" I looked him right in the eye and said"These are my dear friends from the music press and they are coming with me whether you like it or not, end of subject!" He just stared as I pulled them in to our dressing room. Needless to say they thanked me over and over for sticking up for them. We had a real nice chat about music and life! We hung out on the bus late until it was time to go and I was real saddened by saying goodbye to my old friends. Doris had been with me during saner times and had done several interviews with me on friendlier tours with Raven. They knew I wasn't happy and they could see why. They wished me luck and off we went to Salzburg.

The next day found us at the venue in Salzburg and you could see the "Eagle Nest" once belonging to Hitler perched atop the vertical peaks of the Alps right out the windows of the sports hall. We were informed that night that Godspeed would not be allowed to play the last gig in Zurich, Switzerland because the truth was finally found out through the grapevine that they were ultimately the trouble makers on the tour. I couldn't have agree more and I think that they set the tone for a lot of bad things that happened but would run and hide behind their manager's skirt before anyone could pin it on them. I should have been happy when I heard this news but come the next to the last gig in Salzburg, Austria and Godspeed's final gig of the tour I suddenly felt terrible for them! Down deep I loved those misguided jerks. They honestly didn't know any better. They were just green and didn't know how to act. Now, that doesn't mean that they are excused for crippling me but I blame their management and record label just as much for not checking them out closer. They shouldn't have been touring until they were ready! So I can't put the whole blame on Tommy and his crew, Godspeed.That's just the normal shit that goes on in their neighborhood.

Just to show them that I understood and with the hope that they might someday understand my compassion for people that goes beyond their hatred and betrayal of me, I dressed up posing as their manager complete with leather waistcoat, tied back hair, cigar and drawn on mustache and came out on stage to announce them on this their final gig on the Black Sabbath tour! I shouted to a packed house in my deepest Jersey accent: Hey what's cookin' out dare doit bags?"Lady's and Gentlemen will you welcome from da' guttas of New Joisey, GODSPEED!!!!!! Then I flicked the cigar across the stage at the drum kit and it burst into a fountain of sparks and without hesitation, they were off playing their hearts out! I looked down at the side of the stage and caught all of Sabbath's crew checking that one out! After all it, was for them as well!

Godspeed weren't really bad guys but I guess that they felt that they needed to be in order to play rock and roll. When the promoter in Switzerland decided to pull the plug on their performance the day before the show, I decided to act as their manager introducing them to the public in Salzburg which would be their final gig on the tour.

Next day we arrived in Switzerland for tour's end. Geezer Butler came and sat in our dressing room for a few laughs and hung out with us until showtime. Tony Iommi and Geoff Nichols reluctantly came back also to sign our tour posters and had to endure the childish heckling of Gaz who totally worshiped Tony in reality.

Gaz later asked them if they would mind if Cathedral did half of our set as a Sabbath medley? They told us that it would be all right.

Cathedral hit the stage with "Tomorrow's Dream" and suddenly we shifted gears into the famous Sabbath blues jam from "Live at Last" and then "Cornucopia" all of it on the fly as we had heard these tunes so many times in our lives that it was a snap! I was being pelted in the head throughout the set with grapes thrown at me from stage right by Geezer Butler. He was having an obvious good time watching Cathedral breeze through songs that he had written . I think it took him back to the old days and gave him an opportunity to see a little bit of of himself in us. Hopefully it helped validate his and Tony's hard work all these years.

After our show I got Geezer and Tony to sign my poster from the Prague show with the hideous old witch killer on it. Geezer just simply wrote "GRAPE!! , Geezer Butler". We also signed his poster and a poster for his son which showed Geezer Butler what he was, one of the grand gentlemen of rock.

Our tour bus left directly after our goodbyes to bands and crew. The next three days became a blur to me as my injuries from Italy began worsening. I literally fell apart as the air started coming out of the balloon. Thank God I had Scott Carlson there with me! Anyone who knows Scott knows that he is the most caring nurturing soul on the planet and he helped me through 3 days of total disorientation and pain.
Scott Carlson and I at the side of the stage at a Raven gig in Los Angeles in 2008. Both of us reliving the horror of that tour and both coming to the conclusion that it is something that we'll never forget!

The people back home who had loaned me out to this endeavor were getting back someone entirely different. I remember arriving at the airport in Washington in my black stage clothes that smelled like 3 months worth of stale cigarettes and hashish and looking like I'd just gotten run over by a tractor/trailer! I had tons of posters and tour shirts overflowing out of my bags and dropping to the floor. The other travelers around me were clearly viewing me as a horror! They were correct! Even my new born son, Joseph didn't recognize me and started bawling. I also found a pinch hitting husband waiting for my wife in my living room when I got home! I promptly bounced him out the door. Divorce was right around the corner! Welcome home!

As it all ended up Cathedral dumped their uncaring manager and found real members that would stay with them throughout their career. Lee and Gaz have also visibly matured as people and become more caring towards others which will serve them well.

Victor found God and quit Pentagram and started his own band , "Place Of Skulls" and found his own audience and went back to Europe many times despite his mistakes there in the past.

Tommy and Rob disbanded Godspeed after a quick firing from their label, Atlantic and a tour with Dio. They started a proper doom metal outfit called Solace and are working even today. Tommy and Rob have settled down much over the years and Tommy is now a family man. He also apologized to me in the most sincere way and we are in touch and have buried the hatchet even though I don't let him forget that I can't function the way I once did. I also recently ran into Rob, Godspeed's bassist at the Templars of Doom festival that I headlined with my solo band, the Hounds of Hasselvander. I brought up the incident in question on the Sabbath tour and he replied by saying, "Man, we were just little kids back then!!" And I said, "Yeah, my leg never healed to this day!". I think I got the last laugh when his ulta-hot wife Stephanie wanted him a photo of her and I together!! Good job, Rob!


Black Sabbath went on to revive the original line up and have since won back their integrity and have turned yet another generation on to the classic Sabbath sound. As of late they are visiting another chapter of the Dio years line up!

Bobby Rondenelli went on to play drums for Blue Oyster Cult who I'm sure treated him better.

Tony Martin formed a new solo band featuring his talented son on guitar and I was fortunate enough to share the stage with them on his first show since the dreaded tour. Geoff Nichols was also playing keyboards for him and we all had an incredible re-cap of our experiences on the cross purposes tour. I was surprised to find out that their feelings about it were much the same as mine.

I played the 2006 Bang Your Head Festival in Germany with Raven and once again shared the stage with the multi-talented Tony Martin. We spoke about the Cross Purposes tour and I realized that it had taken it's toll on him and the others in Sabbath as well. It seems that no one was exempt from paying a price!

Directly after the tour, I found myself recording a new album with Raven on a new Japanese label that eventually afforded me the luxury of recording a second one live in Tokyo, "Destroy All Monsters" and we haven't stop working since. I also still enjoy making music with my other solo and side projects.

Cathedral earned their traveling shoes on this tour. It changed them from a 5 piece with no real direction into a 4 piece band that played played like men! Unbelievably, Tony Iommi played some guitar on their next album.

Godspeed disbanded after being dropped by Atlantic Records and being booted off the Dio tour. Tommy and Rob changed horses and dropped the grunge shtick and formed a great sounding, proper doom metal outfit called Solace.

Victor Griffin crawled around in the dark searching for himself for a few more years but then emerged out of his muck with the mighty Place Of Skulls and has since gotten control of his anger and is at peace with himself and his audience.

Right after the Cross Purposes tour I recorded more albums with Raven and recorded my first live album in Tokyo.

Jack Starr of Virgin Steele gave me the name "The Godfather Of Doom" which at the time we laughed about. But on the 1994 Black Sabbath "Cross Purposes Tour" I truly earned that title and I dare any human being to try taking that away from me!

I will never forget the things that happened on that tour nor will I forget how people famous and not so famous who lack confidence in themselves react unfavorably toward others. They are in reality, screaming inside with the undiluted fear of losing control after leaving their comfort zones where they are used to being in control of everything! This goes for all of us! Let's hope we do better when we have to meet God!

I pray for each and every poor soul who was involved in any way with this excursion into madness. And I would hope that they have taken any little bit of good that they could glean from it as I have done and turned it into compassion for others and a deeper love for their families, friends and fans so that one day we all make it to that big concert in the sky!

Doom On Brothers & Sisters! Life is too short for you to write this one off!

Joe H.


John said...

thank you Joe for finally completing this great tale of rock n roll, the wait for the conclusion was well worth it. Please, continue writing these stories of your fans and fellow musicians as well. Especially those of us with less experience who can benefit from your wisdom. Doom on!

El rock chingón said...

Just love this tale. You shoul write a book. By the way I love the new raven´s cd W.T.F.

El rock chingón said...

Are you doing this gig

Stephen O'Malley said...

Joe, Thanks for sharing the tales with us, so interesting to read... and oddly familiar. Ive been there in the weird pits of madness while touring myself, how do we arrive in these situations? Luckily we managed to survive somehow, with the integrity miraculously intact (yet often tarnished). Great to become a better person through all of it, and a better musician hopefully.

Best, Stephen / SUNN O)))