Pranking one another is a common routine among rock and roll musicians that helps them relieve stress while on the road. There’s always an incorrigible prankster among band members, and in Black Sabbath, that was lead guitarist Tony Iommi, who was notorious for pulling pranks with tragic outcomes. But did you know that a supposed harmless prank almost killed Bill Ward?
When Bill Ward passed out after a night of drinking, his bandmates from Black Sabbath nearly killed him by painting him in gold paint and lacquer.
Near Death Experience with Gold Paint and Lacquer
Members of Black Sabbath were bound to get bored quickly because they spent so much of their career touring and spending hours on the road. As a result, the band members relied on drugs and partying while on the road, but these weren’t enough at some point. That’s when they began playing practical jokes on each other, all of which landed safely except for two.
When Tony Iommi had a brilliant idea for a prank, he decided to cover his bandmate Bill Ward in gold paint from head to toe. Despite appearing amusing at first, the drummer began to have seizures, necessitating the dispatch of an ambulance. In a 2016 interview with The Guardian, the Black Sabbath drummer revealed that they had to give Bill Ward adrenaline and use a paint stripper to get the paint off of him.
We were staying at John DuPont’s house in Los Angeles, the bloke who owned DuPont paint products. We found all this paint in the garage and were all pissed, so thought it would be fun to paint Bill gold from head to toe. He started having convulsions. The ambulance people gave us a right bollocking: ‘You idiots! You could have killed him.’ They gave him adrenalin and we had to use a paint stripper to get it off. He looked like a beetroot by the endTony Iommi, Lead Guitarist, Black Sabbath
Despite the apparent result of almost killing his bandmate, Tony Iommi decided to continue pranking the Black Sabbath drummer. (Source: Rock Celebrities)
The Fire and Alcohol Prank on Bill Ward
During the same interview, Tony Iommi reflected on his second and most dangerous prank on his bandmate. Since Black Sabbath’s name was frequently associated with satanism, apparently setting people on fire was a staple joke for the guitarist while partying.
Iommi, as expected, used the band’s party piece on Bill Ward and poured rubbing alcohol all over the drummer. According to the guitarist, rubbing alcohol typically wears off reasonably quickly; however, Ward’s clothes soaked up the alcohol, causing him to catch fire.
Tony Iommi thought it was an act, a part of the joke, when he saw his bandmate rolling on the floor to put out the fire while screaming in pain, so he poured more rubbing alcohol on the drummer. Soon after, he realized that Bill Ward had severe burns and that they needed to call an ambulance for the musician.
It was our party piece, which always worked until the last time we did it. We had this new producer, Martin Birch, who’d heard all these stories about satanism and was a bit nervous. I made a wooden doll and wrapped it in a black cloth, and the other guys wound him up that it was my voodoo doll of him. In front of Martin, Bill says, ‘ Are you going to set fire to me then, Tony?’ I tipped rubbing alcohol over him. It usually just burned off but this time it soaked into his clothes, so when I lit it he went up like a bomb. He was rolling on the floor, shouting and screaming. I thought it was part of the joke, so poured more stuff on him. Martin couldn’t believe it. We had to get an ambulance for Bill. He’d got third-degree burns. I felt bloody awful. We still play jokes on each other. Not quite as severe as that. I learned my lesson.Tony Iommi, Lead Guitarist, Black Sabbath
According to the Black Sabbath guitarist’s shocking revelation, the band continued to play practical jokes on each other even after these dangerous incidents. While he emphasizes that the following pranks were not as intense as these two because he learned his lesson after witnessing his friend’s third-degree burns, it’s surprising that Tony Iommi didn’t call it quits on pranking for good. (Source: Rock Celebrities)
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