I do not know Tony Iommi personally, I have never met him. This post is not based on an interview with him. Actually, he does not even know about it and probably never will.
Tony Iommi is one of the founding member and the lead guitarist of the legendary heavy metal band Black Sabbath. I am not here to talk about Heavy Metal music or Black Sabbath. Tony has been recently diagnosed with lymphoma (a type of cancer that originates in the immune system). I want to send him positive energy and good spirits through his battle by sharing his story. Tony’s passion for music has truly been an inspiration in more ways than one.
What most people do not know about Tony (unless you are a hard core fan!) is that his career nearly ended at the young age of 17 years old. Tony was working in a sheet metal factory. On his last day of work, he was asked to replace an operator on a metal sheet cutting machine. At the end of his shift, a terrible accident happened when the machine sliced off the tips of his middle and ring finger of his right hand. Of course it is devastating for anyone to lose the tips of their fingers, could you imagine what it must have been like for a 17 year old whose passion was to play guitar… Now, did Tony just get depressed, stop playing guitar and give up on his dream? Far from it!!! He did not accept that it was over without at least trying different techniques to be able to continue playing. It was not easy, Tony is a left-handed guitar player, he attempted many times to play with his right hand, that did not work out. Tony was introduced to a guitar player who had lost two fingers, inspired by him, he tried an experiment, he melted plastic tips, placed them on top of his two fingers and started playing guitar. After playing for an extended amount of time, his fingers hurt. So, Tony strung his guitars with lighter strings and tuned down his guitar to loosen the strings, allowing comfort in his fingers. He went on and co-founded a band called Earth. He had thimbles to extend his fingers and continued to tune down his guitar to loosen the strings. Terry Butler, the bassist of the band tuned down his base to be in sync with Tony. Having done this, they created a brand new sound, a more heavy mammoth sound. Black Sabbath was born a few months later. This new sound attracted a whole new audience and put Black Sabbath on the map! Tony has influenced so many other bands by this “heavier” riff and contributed to create a new genre of music: Heavy Metal. Although he never got the recognition that he deserves, Tony is recognized by his peers as the Riff Master.
I think I can speak on behalf of all heavy metal bands and fans out there, when I say, thank you Tony for not giving up and following your dream!
I was first introduced to Black Sabbath when I was in grade school, the band had already been together for many years. I remember some guys in my class talking about Tony after having attended the Black Sabbath concert the night before. I was inspired to hear about this guy (Tony) who did not stop playing guitar after losing the tips of his fingers. I thought, “wow, he is amazing, I want to be like that.” (I will tell you about what I did in a later post). I was so impressed that I started listening to Black Sabbath, having been influenced by Tony’s story, I immediately loved their music. In fact, so much so, that as I got older, I got my mom to like it! I should back track a little and tell you that having immigrated from Italy, my mom’s generation listened to old Italian music like Claudio Villa (Volare) and the Tarantella. My friends were over one night, we were watching some video show, all of a sudden, the live music video of “Paranoid” came on. I put up the volume, sure enough, my mom came running in. My friends all thought, “Oh no, she is going to freak out on us!” They took their eyes off the TV and just stared at my mom as she clapped her hands along imitating Ozzy Osbourne. “OMG, your mom listens to heavy metal!” The look on their face was priceless, a true kodak moment!
Thank You Tony for following your passion, not only have you inspired me, I have so many fond memories through your music!
Tony, together with Ian Gillan from the band Deep Purple, have spent a lot of time in Armenia. They were taken in by the people and touched by how they were affected and still today are living through the after math of the earthquake that struck back on December 7, 1988. Both have been involved with the Armenian cause for many years now. Early last summer, they united musical friends to release a CD/DVD (Who Cares) with two brand new singles “Holy Water” and “Out Of My Mind”, to raise funds for the rebuilding of a music school in Gyumri Armenia.
Thank You Tony, your passion for music and your love for mankind are a true inspiration to everyone! Looking forward to the release of the next Black Sabbath album and see you in concert later this year.
Please, join me in sending Tony positive thoughts and good vibes!
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I leave you with the single “Holy Water” from the Who Cares CD project.