Black Sabbath star to tell his story

HE has played to millions across the globe, performing in six world tours with one of the most iconic bands in the history of British rock and roll.

Josh Warwick

HE has played to millions across the globe, performing in six world tours with one of the most iconic bands in the history of British rock and roll.

And now the former lead singer of heavy metal legends Black Sabbath is preparing to share his experiences with a group of guitar-loving youngsters from Suffolk.

Tony Martin spent a decade fronting Birmingham-based Sabbath, his tenure only coming to an end when Ozzy Osbourne and the original 1968 line up reformed for a series of come-back shows in 1997.

On Friday he will be reminiscing over life on the road, sell-out gigs and the shenanigans he and his band-mates got up to - although the 51-year-old will have to censor a few of the more risqué stories.

The three-hour session, at Planet Rock in Martlesham, came about after Martin unexpectedly popped into the music school for a not-very-rock-and-roll cup of tea.

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“It came about by accident really,” he said.

“I am in the area because my lady is having medical treatment and the school is really close by. I happened to pop in and they said 'you can do something for us'.”

Delighted Planet Rock director Matthew Long said: “His wife visits the back clinic over the road which I think is the only one of its kind in the country.

“I knew who he was straight away. He walked through the door and I said 'what do you do' and he said 'I'm Tony Martin from Black Sabbath'.

“He has been coming here for cups of tea ever since.

“We had the same thing with The Clash drummer, Topper Headon, who used to pop in now and again. I think these guys feel at home in this environment.

“It'll be great because a lot of the kids haven't seen a proper band with a real rock singer. Hopefully we'll get a few more in, too - Christina Aguilera would be nice.”

Martin, who still lives in the West Midlands, will talk about the music industry and the highs and lows of life as a professional musician.

He will conclude with an acoustic performance, before a full-on, ear-splitting rendition of a handful of Sabbath's best known tracks.

Martin said: “Hopefully I can draw on the youngsters' experiences and give them something they can go away and be inspired by.

“It's not going to be about Black Sabbath, more about being a professional musician and what it involves.

“I want to tell them about the pitfalls and highlights of being in a band, the ups and downs that come with it. There'll be a bit of playing, a bit of music and a bit of messing about.

“I will certainly have to censor a few of the stories, though. They will have to be clean ones, so I am a bit limited in what I can say.”

The event will finish with a free auction, with the lucky winner walking away with a £300 black electric guitar, signed by Martin.

- Entry is £5 for adults and £3 for children. To book your place, or to find out more, call 01394 383700.

- Are you a fan of the Sabbath? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

Rock and roll dreams:

PERHAPS Black Sabbath's biggest series of gigs during Tony Martin's time in the band took place in Russia.

Sabbath were one of the first acts to tour the country after Mikhail Gorbachov opened its borders to western performers for the first time in 1989.

“We went on six major world tours, and recorded seven albums,” said Martin, “so there aren't many countries I haven't been to.

“But one of the biggest gigs was in Russia in 1991. We were one of the first bands to be allowed in and we played to 40,000 people, twice a day for two weeks.

“The whole thing was controlled by the army, although we were dealing with them as much as they were dealing with us.

“I remember that we had to cut the show down a bit from the usual two hour set, but it was still quite something.”

He added: “There were seven different line-ups when I was in the band and each one had its own stories.

“Working with Cozy Powell was special. They say you should never work with your heroes but it was great.

“As far as the real lows go, losing my job when Ozzie came back wasn't exactly great.”