Anthony Frank “Tony” Iommi, born February 19, 1948 is best known as the lead guitarist and one of the four founding members of Black Sabbath. At the age of 17 Tony lost the tips of the middle and ring finger on his right hand in an industrial accident on his last day of work in a sheet metal factory. Inspired by jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt’s two-fingered playing, Iommi decided to try playing guitar again, though the injury made it quite painful to do so, he fitted homemade thimbles to his injured fingers to extend and protect them; made from old liquid dish soap bottles – “melted ’em down, got a hot soldering iron and shaped ’em like fingers” – then he cut sections from a leather jacket to cover his new homemade prosthetics. Then he re-strung his guitar with used banjo strings and began tuning his guitar to lower pitches, sometimes as far as three semitones below standard guitar tuning which crucially affected his playing style and his signature sound as well as the foundation of ‘Heavy Metal’ was born! And as they say… “The rest is rock and roll or heavy metal history!”
“Into the Void” is a song by Black Sabbath, released in 1971 on their album, Master of Reality. An early version of “Into the Void” called “Spanish Sid” was released on the deluxe edition of Master of Reality. It is written in the key of C# minor. On the tracks as well as others on the album Tony downtuned his guitar 11⁄2 steps to produce what he called a “bigger, heavier sound”. This also reduced string tension, making the guitar less painful for him to play; since he had two of his fingers partially severed in a factory accident years earlier.
Various artists have covered the song, including Soundgarden, Kyuss, Monster Magnet, Melvins, Sleep, and Orange Goblin to name just a few. And it has been has been listed as a favorite song by some of heavy metal’s most notable performers like James Hetfield from Metallica. He lists “Into the Void” as his favorite Sabbath track and Eddie Van Halen has listed the song’s main riff as one of his all-time favorites.
“Black Oblivion” is a track by Tony Iommi that features Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins on vocals and additional guitar. It comes from Tony Iommi’s first real legitimate solo album, simply titled ‘Iommi’ that was released in October of 2000. The album, which took almost five years to write and record, included guest vocals by Ozzy Osbourne, Henry Rollins, Dave Grohl, Phil Anselmo, Peter Steele from Type O Negative, Billy Idol, Serj Tankian of System of Down, Ian Astbury of the Cult and it also included other guest musicians like Brian May of Queen, Matt Cameron and Ben Shepherd of Soundgarden, Bill Ward of Black Sabbath and several others. Even Eminem applied to be on the album. But Tony Iommi rejected him because he didn’t have the faintest idea who Eminem was at the time. How would have Iommi’s riffs sounded with Eminem rapping over them? We’ll never know. Another rap rocker did actually go down to the studio and cut some stuff for the record, and that was Kid Rock, but it was never used. And a few other random artists which were also never used. At the time one of the first people Tony requested to work with was the legendary Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, but for some reason that never came to fruition for the project. I read somewhere he also wanted to work with Rob Halford of Judas Priest but due to scheduling conflicts that never worked out either. All of the songs that did make the cut in the end were written by Iommi, producer Bob Marlette and the respective vocalists on each track. And the album still stands as an impressive, eclectic and underrated piece of Iommi’s career. And now that Sabbath has called it quits Tony has discussed in recent interviews how he is always writing and still coming up with monster riffs and he would like to record another album like this sometime in the near future. I hope he does!
Mr. Tony Iommi is arguably the most important player in the history of metal. His awesomely heavy riffs served as the basic blueprint for subsequent bands, and of course, Sabbath’s dark imagery and presentation pre-staged basically every other metal act. He is the Almighty Riff-Master and the true “Godfather of Heavy Metal!” He is widely considered to be one of the greatest rock guitarists of all time and highly influential in the genre. Countless artists and musicians cite him as inspiration to date.
Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi talks about how he almost lost his ability to play guitar after a freak accident in this edition of History Of Metal. that originally aired on That Metal Show on VH1 Classic.