Heavy metal would not exist without Tony Iommi! It’s just that simple.
Born Anthony Frank “Tony” Iommi, (February 19, 1948) he is best known as the lead guitarist and founding member of the pioneering heavy metal band Black Sabbath. For more than 35 years, he has been the band’s sole continual member and primary composer, and as a solo artist, his mighty, steel-melting guitar riffs and skeleton-crushing solos have paved the way for countless disciples and imitators, but none equal the master! His work alone has defined the heavy metal genre.
Iommi was a teenager when a bizarre accident changed his life and, ultimately, the entire direction of popular music. The left-handed guitarist got the tips of his right middle and ring fingers cut off while working in, ironically, a metal shop. Instead of giving up the guitar, he was determined to overcome this setback. He fashioned special plastic fingertips to put on the two injured fingers. By using light-gauge strings and, quite often, various guitar tunings with slackened strings below standard concert pitch, this physically made it easier for Tony to play. But these practices also enabled him to create an incredibly distinctive signature sound and style.
Tony briefly left Black Sabbath (then known as ‘Earth’) in 1968 to join Jethro Tull, after which he returned back to Black Sabbath. In 2000, he released his first solo album Iommi, followed by 2005’s Fused, which featured his former band mate Glenn Hughes. After releasing Fused, he joined Heaven & Hell, which disbanded after Ronnie James Dio’s death in 2010.
Tony Iommi is widely considered one of the most influential rock guitarists of all time. A prolific riff-maker, he was ranked number 25 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”.
In 2011, he published his autobiography, entitled Iron Man: My Journey through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath.
In early 2012, Tony was diagnosed with the early stages of lymphoma, for which he has undergone successful treatment as of January 2013. Black Sabbath’s 2013 tour dates were arranged so that he was free to return to the UK once every six weeks to have an antibody administered.
On 3 January 2014, in a New Year message, Iommi announced that he would be finishing his regular treatment sometime in the year.
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