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 Fairy 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 metal history!
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 prestaged 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.
In 2000, Tony Iommi finally released his first legitimate solo album, titled ‘Iommi’. The album featured several guest vocalists and musicians that included this one featuring Henry Rollins. The album took nearly five years to make. All of the songs were written by Iommi, producer Bob Marlette and the respective vocalists of each track (except “Black Oblivion”, which was written by Iommi and Billy Corgan).
“Let It Down Easy” is a track that was originally recorded during the ‘Fused’ album sessions. ‘Fused’ is a solo album by Tony Iommi, that released in 2005. The album also features vocalist/bassist Glenn Hughes, (who briefly fronted Black Sabbath in the mid-80s, assuming vocal duties on the ‘Seventh Star.’ Glenn Hughes commonly known as “The Voice of Rock” for good reason, of course; he is best known for playing bass and performing vocals for funk rock pioneers Trapeze and Deep Purple, The Hughes Turner Project, Gary Moore, Black Country Communion with Joe Bonamassa and Jason Bonham, again briefly fronting Black Sabbath in the mid-1980’s and several of his own solo albums. He is favorite of Tony Iommi’s to work with, other than Sabbath’s ‘Seventh Star’ they have recorded two solo albums together, the aforementioned ‘Fused’ in ’05 and the ‘The 1996 DEP Sessions.’ And now that Sabbath is supposedly done, or retired Toni has talked about working with Glenn again sometime in the very near future.
Tony Iommi has played on some of the darkest tracks in the history of metal, but one of his latest inspirations is something a little more heavenly. The guitar great penned a new track called “How Good It Is” back in January for the Birmingham Cathedral, expressing his desire to give something back to his hometown. The song features Iommi on acoustic guitar, backed by the men and boys Cathedral Choir. It was lyrically inspired by Psalm 133. “It was great to be involved with the Cathedral and do something for it,” Iommi stated in a Birmingham Cathedral news piece. Tony Iommi worked with his friend the Dean of Birmingham on this five-minute arrangement, which celebrates peace, harmony and the Cathedral’s role in the heart of the city.