Skip to main content

Black Sabbath were once told they were “too scruffy” for Birmingham club

Early Black Sabbath
(Image credit: Michael Ochs Archive / Getty Images)

If a member of Black Sabbath wants into a club these days, there aren’t very many establishments that would refuse him.

But that wasn’t always the case – and in a new vlog for a Birmingham business development goup, guitarist Tony Iommi recalled their pre-fame era, including being kept out of a city night spot.

First, though, he spoked about the pleasure of coming home after touring the world in the early 70s. “On some evenings, I used to go around some of the clubs in Birmingham centre with a couple of different friends who would also be having a break from touring. 

“Sometimes I’d go with John Bonham from Led Zeppelin or Jeff Lynn from ELO to a club called the Rum Runner on Broad Street,” he said, “which was one of the popular places for me and other musicians to go – mainly because my dearest and oldest friend, Albert Chapman, from my old school, was the manager and bouncer there.”

Iommi went on: “Before Black Sabbath got to be known in Birmingham, it was very difficult to get into lots of places,” he said. “In fact, Ozzy, Bill, Geezer and myself tried to get into another popular club in Birmingham called the Cedar Club, where Ben Bevan would play a residency when he was in a band called The Move.

“We were promptly turned away. We were too scruffy and in most clubs there was a definite dress code and you weren’t allowed in wearing jeans. So that was definitely us out.”

Sabbath, of course, are local heroes in Birmingham now, and Iommi said he was proud of the memorial bench unveiled in 2019. “I understand that it attracts literally thousands of visitors each year, many from overseas,” he commented. “They pop up to Birmingham just to grab a photograph on the bench and bridge. I mean, how wonderful is that?”

Iommi is continuing work on a number of unidentified projects, and still hopes to collaborate with Brian May in the near future.

Martin Kielty

Not only is one-time online news editor Martin an established rock journalist and drummer, but he’s also penned several books on music history, including SAHB Story: The Tale of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band (opens in new tab), a band he once managed, and the best-selling Apollo Memories (opens in new tab) about the history of the legendary and infamous Glasgow Apollo. Martin has written for Classic Rock and Prog and at one time had written more articles for Louder than anyone else (we think he's second now). He’s appeared on TV and when not delving intro all things music, can be found travelling along the UK’s vast canal network.