A Littlehampton rock fan who missed out on a possible meeting with an idol from Black Sabbath due to a car fire has finally succeeded in his mission, beyond his wildest dreams.
Prison officer Alex Woodford, 40, not only met lead guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler, he had time to chat to them and get their autographs.
It was a massive moment, as the lifelong Black Sabbath fan had been halted in his previous bid to meet Tony in Birmingham in February, at an exclusive viewing of a heavy metal bench dedicated to the band.
Little did he know he would end up with VIP access after going back on the road to Birmingham for the unveiling of the bench and the Black Sabbath Bridge four months later.
Alex said: “I was absolutely distraught when my car broke down halfway through my four-hour journey to Birmingham back in February.
“I was stranded by the side of the road holding my ticket and had to go home knowing this great event was going on without me.
“But now I’m still pinching myself that I finally made it to Birmingham for the latest event and ended up meeting and chatting to Tony and Geezer face-to-face.
“I keep looking at the pictures because I can’t believe it’s happened, and it’s made memories that will stay with me for a lifetime.”
Thanks to event organiser Westside Business Improvement District (BID), Alex even got involved in helping out behind the scenes.
Mike Olley, Westside BID manager, said: “We could tell that Alex was a true Black Sabbath fan and when we heard about his heartbreaking journey in February, we just had to help.
“The bench and bridge are a tribute to both Black Sabbath and the passion of the amazing fans who have made them into the legends they are today, so bringing Alex together with Tony and Geezer really embodied the spirit of what we are trying to celebrate here in Birmingham.”
Alex travelled up the night before the event and visited both Ozzy Osborne’s former home in Aston and The Crown pub in the city centre, where the band played their first gig.
In the morning, he was in position early to get a front row space and began chatting to Mike.
Before he knew it, Alex had been co-opted to help out and was invited behind the scenes as Tony and Geezer set sail on a narrowboat to the canal bridge renamed in honour of the band.
Alex said: “I was there when they arrived and chatted with Geezer after the unveiling. I helped to guide the VIPs into position and was then invited along to the private drinks afterwards and got to speak to Tony.
“He was great, a real gentleman, and chatted to me even though there was a room full of people waiting to talk to him. He and Geezer signed my vinyl. It was incredible, I just couldn’t believe it was happening.”
Westside BID worked closely with the Canal & River Trust charity and Birmingham City Council to have the bridge over Broad Street renamed Black Sabbath Bridge.
The metal bench, featuring cut-outs of band members, was installed on top of the bridge.