Tony Iommi

Last updated

Tony Iommi
Tony-Iommi 2009-06-11 Chicago photoby Adam-Bielawski.jpg
Iommi onstage with Heaven & Hell in 2009
Anthony Frank Iommi

(1948-02-19) 19 February 1948 (age 72)
Handsworth, Birmingham, England
Nationality British
Citizenship United Kingdom, Italy
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • producer
Years active1964–present
  • Susan Snowdon
    (m. 1973;div. 1976)
  • Melinda Diaz
    (m. 1980;div. 1985)
  • Valery Iommi
    (m. 1987;div. 1993)
  • Maria Sjöholm(m. 2005)
  • Anthony Frank Iommi (father)
  • Sylvia Maria Iommi (mother)
Musical career
Instruments Guitar
Associated acts

Anthony Frank Iommi ( /ˈmi/ ; born 19 February 1948) is an English guitarist, songwriter and producer. He was lead guitarist and one of the four founding members of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath. He was the band's primary composer and sole continual member for nearly five decades.


While working in a factory as a teenager, Iommi lost the tips of the middle and ring fingers of his right hand in an accident, an event which crucially impacted his playing style. Iommi briefly left Black Sabbath (then known as Earth) in 1968 to join Jethro Tull, but did not record any material with the band, and he subsequently returned to Black Sabbath in 1969. In 2000, he released his first solo album Iommi , followed by 2005's Fused , which featured his former bandmate Glenn Hughes. After releasing Fused, he formed Heaven & Hell, which disbanded after Ronnie James Dio's death in 2010.

Iommi 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.

Early life

Iommi was born in Birmingham, the only child of Sylvia Maria (née Valenti, born in Palermo) Iommi. [1] and Anthony Frank Iommi. Sylvia's family were vineyard owners in Italy. [1] The family was Catholic, though they rarely attended Mass. [2] Their family home in the Park Lane area of Aston also housed a shop which was a popular meeting place in the neighbourhood. [3] , with the living room doubling as the shop's stockroom. [4] His mother ran the shop while his father was a carpenter by trade. [3]

Born and raised in Handsworth, Birmingham, Iommi attended Birchfield Road School, where future bandmate Ozzy Osbourne was also a student one year behind him. [5] At age 8 or 9, while being chased by another boy, Iommi fell and suffered a bad cut on his upper lip. [6] As a result, he gained the nickname "Scarface", which made him more self-conscious of the scar, so he eventually grew his trademark moustache as a means of covering it. [6]

At about age 10, Iommi began working out and learned judo, karate, and later boxing as a means of protecting himself from the local gangs which congregated in his neighbourhood. [7] He became so good at boxing that he envisioned a future as a bouncer in a nightclub, thus avoiding a career in a boring factory job. [8] Iommi initially wanted to play the drums, but due to the excessive noise he chose the guitar instead as a teenager, after being inspired by the likes of Hank Marvin and the Shadows. [9] He has always played guitar left-handed. [10] After completing school, Iommi worked briefly as a plumber and later in a factory manufacturing rings. He stated that at one point he worked in a music store, but quit after being falsely accused of stealing. [11]


At the age of 17, Iommi lost the tips of the middle and ring fingers of his right hand in an industrial accident on his last day of work in a sheet metal factory. [12] [13] Iommi described how he "was told 'you'll never play again. It was just unbelievable. I sat in the hospital with my hand in this bag and I thought 'that's it – I'm finished. But eventually I thought 'I'm not going to accept that. There must be a way I can play'." [14] After the injury Iommi considered abandoning the guitar entirely. However, his factory foreman played him a recording of famous jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, which encouraged him to continue as a musician. As Iommi later wrote:

My friend said, "Listen to this guy play", and I went, "No way! Listening to someone play the guitar is the very last thing I want to do right now!" But he kept insisting and he ended up playing the record for me. I told him I thought it was really good and then he said, "You know, the guy's only playing with two fingers on his fretboard hand because of an injury he sustained in a terrible fire." I was totally knocked back by this revelation and was so impressed by what I had just heard that I suddenly became inspired to start trying to play again. [15]

Inspired by Reinhardt's two-fingered guitar playing, Iommi decided to try playing guitar again, though the injury made it quite painful to do so. [16] Although it was an option, Iommi never seriously considered switching hands and learning to play right-handed. In an interview with Guitar World magazine, he was asked if he was "ever tempted to switch to right-handed playing." Iommi responded:

If I knew what I know now I probably would have switched. At the time I had already been playing two or three years, and it seemed like I had been playing a long time. I thought I’d never be able to change the way I played. The reality of the situation was that I hadn’t been playing very long at all, and I probably could have spent the same amount of time learning to play right handed. I did have a go at it, but I just didn’t have the patience. It seemed impossible to me. I decided to make do with what I had, and I made some plastic fingertips for myself. I just persevered with it. [17]

He ultimately decided to continue playing left-handed. To do so, he fitted homemade thimbles to his injured fingers to extend and protect them; the thimbles were made from an old Fairy Liquid bottle – "melted it down, got a hot soldering iron and shaped it like a finger" – and cut sections from a leather jacket to cover his new homemade prosthetic, [14] which created two technical problems. First, the thimbles prevented him from feeling the strings, causing a tendency to press down very hard on them. Second, he had difficulty bending strings, leading him to seek light-gauge guitar strings to make it easier to do so. [18] However, Iommi recalls that such strings were not manufactured at the time, so he used banjo strings instead, until around 1970–71 when Picato Strings began making light-gauge guitar strings. [19] Furthermore, he used the injured fingers predominantly for fretting chords rather than single-note solos. [20] In 1974, Iommi told Guitar Player magazine that the thimbles "helped with his technique" because he had to use his little finger more than he had before the accident. [21] Later, he also began tuning his guitar to lower pitches, sometimes as far as three semitones below standard guitar tuning (e.g., on "Children of the Grave", "Lord of this World", and "Into the Void", all on the album Master of Reality ). Although Iommi states that the main purpose of doing so was to create a "bigger, heavier sound", slackening the strings makes it easier to bend them. [22]

Iommi reflected in 2016 saying that his greatest regret is losing his fingertips.

It became a burden. Some people say it helped me invent the kind of music I play, but I don’t know whether it did. It’s just something I’ve had to learn to live with. It affects your playing style; you can’t feel the strings, and there are certain chords I can’t play. Right at the beginning I was told by doctors: “You won’t be playing guitar.” But I believed I could do it, and I did. [23]


Pre-Black Sabbath

Iommi had played in several blues/rock bands, the earliest of which was the Rockin' Chevrolets from 1964 to 1965. The band had regular bookings and when they were offered work in Germany, Iommi decided to leave his factory job to take up the opportunity. From 1966 to 1967 Iommi played in a band named the Rest. It was in the Rest that Iommi first met future-Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward, who played drums and sang in the band. [24]

From January until July of 1968 Iommi was guitarist in Mythology, with Ward joining a month later in mid-February. In May 1968 police raided the group's practice flat and found cannabis resin, which resulted in fines for the band members. Most significantly, the incident made it quite difficult for the band to secure future bookings as most club owners avoided bands they viewed as drug users. [25] Mythology subsequently split up after a gig in Silloth on 13 July 1968.

In August 1968 at the same time as the break-up of Mythology, another Birmingham band called Rare Breed also broke up. Vocalist Ozzy Osbourne joined with Iommi and Ward after the duo responded to an advert in a local music shop proclaiming "Ozzy Zig Requires Gig – has own PA". [26] Requiring a bassist, Osbourne mentioned his former Rare Breed bandmate Geezer Butler, who was subsequently hired along with slide guitarist Jimmy Phillips and saxophonist Alan "Aker" Clarke. [27] The six-piece band were named the Polka Tulk Blues Band. [27] After just two gigs (the last of which was at the Banklands Youth Club in Workington), Phillips and Clarke were dismissed from the band, which soon after shortened its name to Polka Tulk. [28]

Earth and Jethro Tull

Iommi, Butler, Ward and Osbourne renamed the band Earth in September 1968. The same month Iommi briefly departed to join Jethro Tull. However, after only two performances (an appearance on "The Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus" in which the band mimed "A Song for Jeffrey", which Ian Anderson sang live and a live appearance at BBC), Iommi was back with Earth in November 1968.

Concerning his brief working relationship with Jethro Tull vocalist Ian Anderson, Iommi said:

I learned quite a lot from him, I must say. I learned that you have got to work at it. You have to rehearse. When I came back and I got the band (Earth) back together, I made sure that everybody was up early in the morning and rehearsing. I used to go and pick them up. I was the only one at the time that could drive. I used to have to drive the bloody van and get them up at quarter to nine every morning; which was, believe me, early for us then. I said to them, "This is how we have got to do it because this is how Jethro Tull did it." They had a schedule and they knew that they were going to work from this time till that time. I tried that with our band and we got into doing it. It worked. Instead of just strolling in at any hour, it made it more like we were saying, "Let’s do it!"

Black Sabbath

In August 1969, after being confused with another group named Earth (who had minor success in England), the group renamed themselves Black Sabbath. His factory accident affected the Black Sabbath sound; by 1970 Iommi had detuned his guitar from E to E♭ (a minor second down), [29] and from 1971's Master of Reality album, had detuned it further to D♭ (a minor third down), to ease the tension on his fingers. Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler did the same to match Iommi. Sabbath was among the first bands to detune, and the technique became a mainstay of heavy metal music. Iommi combined blues-like guitar solos and dark, minor-key riffing with a revolutionary high-gain, heavily distorted tone with his use of power chords, a modified treble-boosting effect-pedal and a Gibson SG.

Tony Iommi in 1970 Black Sabbath (1970) (cropped)2.jpg
Tony Iommi in 1970

By the late 1970s, Black Sabbath were suffering from substance abuse, managerial problems, and touring exhaustion. In addition, the band's slow, blues-driven riffs were outmoded against the rising generation of metal bands such as Judas Priest and Motörhead. After the albums Technical Ecstasy and Never Say Die! were critically panned, Iommi and Butler decided that Sabbath needed a fresh start so, in the summer of 1979, they fired Osbourne and replaced him with Ronnie James Dio, the former vocalist for Rainbow. With Dio, Black Sabbath produced Heaven and Hell , an album that attempted to update Black Sabbath's sound for the 1980s and include the soaring vocals that characterised the NWOBHM (New wave of British heavy metal) scene. Halfway through the 1980 tour, Bill Ward dropped out due to alcohol problems and displeasure with the direction that Dio was taking the band. He was replaced by Vinny Appice. With Iommi and Geezer Butler the only original members, this line-up produced Mob Rules . Dio quit the following year to begin a solo career, so Sabbath went through a revolving door line-up for the next decade with a succession of frontmen – Ian Gillan, Glenn Hughes, Ray Gillen and Tony Martin. After Ian Gillan (formerly of Deep Purple) departed the band in 1984, Geezer Butler left as well. With Sabbath in effective hiatus, Iommi recorded his first solo album, entitled Seventh Star . The album featured Glenn Hughes (also formerly of Deep Purple) on vocals, but due to label pressures, it was billed as a release by "Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi."

In 1992, Iommi appeared at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, playing four songs with the remaining members of Queen and other guest artists. Geezer Butler also returned to Sabbath that year. In the following year Iommi teamed up with fellow Black Country band Diamond Head and co-wrote the song "Starcrossed (Lovers in the Night)" for their 1993 Death and Progress album. At Osbourne's "farewell" concert at Costa Mesa in 1992, Dio refused to perform and abruptly left the band. As a result, Rob Halford was recruited to perform as the vocalist for two gigs (Halford also sang at one of the dates on the 2004 Ozzfest tour, when Osbourne couldn't perform due to bronchitis). Following Osbourne's solo set, the show concluded with the other members of the original Black Sabbath line-up joining for a 4-song reunion.

Black Sabbath went on to record two further albums with Tony Martin before the original line-up reunited as a touring band in 1997. While Bill Ward played at the two initial reunion shows at Birmingham NEC in December 1997, he was not present for the following two reunion tours, his second absence due to a heart attack. Ward was replaced by Mike Bordin and then Vinny Appice.

On 11 November 2011, the original band members announced that they were reuniting and recording a new album, although Bill Ward did not participate and Brad Wilk took his place at drums for the sessions. [30] The new album, 13 , was released in June 2013.

Solo career

In 2000, Iommi released his first proper solo album, titled Iommi. The album featured several guest vocalists including Ian Astbury, Skin, Henry Rollins, Serj Tankian, Dave Grohl, Billy Corgan, Phil Anselmo, Peter Steele and Ozzy Osbourne. In late 2004 Iommi's second solo album was released, entitled The 1996 DEP Sessions . This album was originally recorded in 1996 but was never officially released. However, a copy with a drum track by Dave Holland was available as a bootleg called Eighth Star. Glenn Hughes performed vocals on the album and he furthered his collaboration with Hughes with the release of his third solo album, Fused . Released on 12 July 2005, John Mellencamp drummer Kenny Aronoff completed the trio on the album.

Iommi has signed with Mike Fleiss's movie production company Next Films to score a series of horror films entitled Black Sabbath. [31]

Since 1989 Tony Iommi was involved in the Rock Aid Armenia project. In October 2009 Iommi and his colleague Ian Gillan were awarded the Orders of HonorArmenia's highest order, which were delivered to them by the Prime Minister of Armenia for their help after the Spitak earthquake. [32] They formed the supergroup WhoCares and recorded a single called "Out of my Mind", which was released 6 May 2011 for the benefit of the music school to be built in Gyumri, Armenia. In January 2012, when Iommi was announced to have early-stage lymphoma, the Armenian Prime Minister sent a letter of support: "We know your spirit is strong as ever, and we do believe the genius of your inspiration that guides you through the work on the new Black Sabbath album will transform into a boost of strength and energy that you need now, when things look tough". [33]

Heaven & Hell

Star on Birmingham Walk of Stars Birmingham Walk of Stars Tony Iommi.jpg
Star on Birmingham Walk of Stars

In October 2006 it was reported that Iommi would tour with Ronnie James Dio, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward again, but under the name Heaven & Hell. Later it was announced that Ward had decided not to participate and Vinny Appice was hired as his replacement. [34] Rhino Records released The Dio Years (under the 'Black Sabbath' moniker) album on 3 April 2007. The album showcased older tracks with Dio and also included three brand new songs recorded with Dio and Appice.

The band started an American tour in April 2007 with Megadeth and Down as opening acts. The tour finished in November in England with the prospect of an album to follow in 2008. During this period the band's show at the New York Radio City Music Hall was released as both a live DVD and CD with a vinyl release in the UK in 2008. During the summer of 2008 the band embarked on the Metal Masters Tour along with Judas Priest, Motörhead and Testament. [35] The band's first and only studio album, The Devil You Know , was released on 28 April 2009. [36]

In November 2008 Iommi had a star revealed on the Birmingham Walk of Stars. Dio died of stomach cancer in May 2010, and on 14 June 2010, Iommi announced that Heaven & Hell would perform a one-off tribute to Ronnie James Dio at the High Voltage Festival, London on 24 July 2010. This was the band's last performance under the name.

Eurovision Song Contest

Iommi wrote the song "Lonely Planet" which was sung by Dorians for Armenia in the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest. [37] [38]

Personal life

Iommi purchased his first house in Stafford, England, in 1972. He also purchased an adjacent property for his parents. [39]

Iommi has been married four times. [40]

During the mid-1980s Iommi was briefly engaged to rock musician Lita Ford. [51] [52] Iommi co-produced Lita Ford's album The Bride Wore Black, which to date remains unreleased. Ford said in a 1989 Kerrang! interview that "there's a certain amount of bad blood between Tony and I."[ citation needed ]

On 19 November 2013, Iommi received an Honorary Doctorate of Arts degree from Coventry University. The honorary degree came "in recognition of his contribution to the world of popular music", and recognised "his role as one of the founding fathers of heavy metal music and his status as one of the industry's most influential figures", the university said. [53]

Iommi holds dual British-Italian citizenship, acquiring Italian citizenship due to being born to an Italian mother. [1] [54]


In early 2012, Iommi was diagnosed with the early stages of lymphoma, [55] for which he underwent successful treatment. Black Sabbath's 2013 tour dates were arranged so that Iommi was free to return to the UK once every six weeks to have an antibody administered. [56] On 3 January 2014, in a New Year message, Iommi announced that he would be finishing his regular treatment some time that year. [57] A few months later, Black Sabbath announced that due to Iommi's health issues, they were undertaking their final tour. [58] As of 11 August 2016 Tony Iommi announced that his cancer was in remission. [59]

According to a report in Rolling Stone magazine from 9 December 2016, Iommi revealed that he was due to have an operation to remove a lump from his throat. In an early 2017 interview with the UK radio show Planet Rock , Iommi explained that the lump wasn't cancerous. [60]


Iommi said in 2016 that he believed in God and was a Catholic, but that he had not attended church services since childhood. [23] In January 2017, a choral work by Iommi entitled "How Good It Is" – with lyrics inspired by Psalm 133 – received its debut performance at Birmingham Cathedral. [61] Catherine Ogle, the Dean of Birmingham, said, "This is a most wonderful gift Tony offered to the cathedral." [61]

In his autobiography, Tony writes that his parents were Catholics but weren't regular churchgoers. He continues, 'I hardly go to church either. I wouldn't know what to do there. I actually do believe in a God, but I don't feel that I have to press the point.'

Legacy and influence

Iommi playing with Black Sabbath in 1978. Tony Iommi at the New Haven Coliseum.jpg
Iommi playing with Black Sabbath in 1978.

Tony Iommi is widely considered to be one of the greatest rock guitarists of all time. In 2005, Metal Hammer magazine ranked him number 1 on the poll of the "Riff Lords", praising his "highly distinctive style of fretsmanship that's economical yet crushingly effective". [62] In 2007, Classic Rock magazine ranked him number 6 on their list of the "100 Wildest Guitar Heroes". [63] In 2011, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him number 25 in their list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". [64] Joel McIver ranked him the 6th greatest metal guitarist of all time. [65] In 2012, readers of Guitar World ranked Iommi the 7th-greatest rock guitarist of all time. [66] Editors of the same magazine ranked him the greatest heavy metal guitarist of all time. [67]

Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull has said: "Tony managed to turn his physical impairment around into something that makes him one of the guitar legends – if not for his dexterity of playing but at least for the fact that his contribution to rock music is a unique one". [68] Gene Simmons of Kiss regards him as "the man who came up with the riffs that launched an army of guitar players"; [69] Ozzy Osbourne calls him "the master of the metal riff" and Ronnie James Dio called him "the ultimate riff master". [70]

Furthermore, Iommi is recognised by many as the main creator of heavy metal music. Brian May of Queen considers him "the true father of heavy metal", [71] Eddie Van Halen states that "without Tony, heavy metal wouldn't exist. He is the creator of heavy!" [71] and James Hetfield of Metallica, who was profoundly influenced by Iommi, defines him "The king of the heavy riff". [72] Rob Halford, vocalist for Judas Priest, when filling in for Ozzy Osbourne during an August 2004 concert in Philadelphia, introduced Iommi to the audience as "The man who invented the heavy metal riff". [73] Michael Amott of Carcass and Arch Enemy considers Iommi his "guitar hero" [74] and the world's greatest guitarist "because he invented the heavy tone and evil riff". [75] According to Lamb of God singer Randy Blythe, "Iommi is the reason heavy metal exists". [74]

He has been credited as the forerunner of other styles: Martin Popoff defines him "the godfather of stoner rock"; [76] Jeff Kitts and Brad Tolinski of Guitar World assert that "grunge, goth, thrash, industrial, death, doom... whatever. None of it would exist without Tony Iommi". [77] According to Hawaii Public Radio: "it is hard to imagine Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam or Alice in Chains without Black Sabbath, and without Tony Iommi. Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Scorpions, Metallica, Slayer, Pantera and essentially every metal band can be traced to the musical framework found in Iommi compositions". [78] Many notable musicians count Iommi as a major influence on their own playing; some of them include Jeff Hanneman (Slayer), Dimebag Darrell (Pantera), [79] Slash (Guns N' Roses, Velvet Revolver), [80] Scott Ian (Anthrax), [81] Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society), [82] Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine), [83] Billy Corgan (The Smashing Pumpkins), [84] Kim Thayil (Soundgarden), [85] and Nick Oliveri (Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age). [86] Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains was strongly influenced by Iommi's dark bendings, which he uses often. [87] Andy LaRocque of King Diamond said that the clean guitar part of "Sleepless Nights" from the Conspiracy album is inspired by Iommi's playing on Never Say Die! . [88]


Iommi's deep and heavy sound was partly born out of necessity—his "revolutionary signature sound" being the result of the accident and the subsequent downtuning by three semitones. He said that his "extreme volume" was likewise necessary, "because we were fed up with people talking over us while we were playing." [18]


"It was the same with 24-fret necks. I put money into a company because I couldn't get guitars built the way I wanted them. I had to prove it to the manufacturers. So I put money into John Birch guitars, and he built my guitars. I had to prove it worked. All of this was done by experimenting and trial and error. I paid for that myself in the early days to show it could be done. And I paid for all these companies to get the benefits nowadays. Back then they all said it couldn't be done. I also used locking nuts years and years ago without a tremolo, before locking nuts were the norm."

Tony Iommi [89]

Built in Birmingham by luthier John Diggins sometime between 1975 and 1978, the guitar was first used for overdubs on the 'Heaven and Hell' album and later became one of Iommi's main guitars. The guitar is equipped with a 24 fret neck with custom cross inlays, four control knobs (three of which are functional), a disconnected second output jack, a hole for a master volume knob on the pick guard covered up with a black stopper and a highly distressed finish. He had two more built for him. One was made to the same specifications of his first Jaydee SG with a red finish. Another one was made and used during the Born Again era, which can be seen on the music videos for "Trashed" and "Zero the Hero." The differences are the finish, headstock, use of a stoptail bridge, and use of rail humbuckers, as opposed to the 18-pole humbuckers on his two other versions.

Tony Iommi's signature Gibson SG guitar Iommi sg guitar.jpg
Tony Iommi's signature Gibson SG guitar

A 1965 Gibson SG Special in red finish fitted with a Gibson P-90 pick-up in the bridge position and a custom-wound John Birch Simplux, a P-90 style single coil in the neck position. The guitar became Iommi's main instrument after his white Stratocaster's neck pick-up failed during the recording of Black Sabbath's self-titled album.

The guitar was built by the Gibson Custom Shop in Nashville after Iommi's specifications and finished in 1997. The guitar is one of two made as prototypes for the Gibson Custom Shop Limited Edition Iommi Special SG. The guitar features a neck with 24 frets and four control knobs, of which only two are active (much like his old Jaydee Custom guitar).

On 11 August 2010, Iommi announced on his website that this guitar was stolen from the RJD tribute show that Heaven & Hell performed at High Voltage on 24 July 2010. He is asking that anyone with information or leads let them know. He is offering a reward for its safe return. [93]

A stock Epiphone SG signature model in black finish fitted with P-94 pick-ups which is a version of the Gibson P-90 pick-up designed to fit into existing humbucker housings.

A regular left-handed version of the SG fitted with two extra frets to give Iommi the full two octaves which he prefers. The guitar is equipped with his signature pick-up. Iommi was the first guitarist to have a signature pick-up designed and built by Gibson. He also has another model fitted with a Floyd Rose floating tremolo. [95]

"I also came up with a guitar with interchangeable pickups you could slot in from the back. It was a John Birch guitar. We only sold one, and Roy Orbison bought it. I came up with that years ago and the first one was made for me to use in the studio. At the time I had a lot of problems tuning guitars because of the neck and the light strings on the Gibson. I decided to come up with a guitar that I could use in the studio with different sounds so that I didn't have to keep changing guitars. You could slot a pickup in it and get a Fender sound, then slot a different pickup in it and get a Gibson sound. That was the idea. I did use it for a while, but they were too expensive to mass-produce."

Tony Iommi [89]

Iommi played a Fender Stratocaster that was spraypainted white by Iommi and his father during the early days with Black Sabbath. However, the neck pick-up malfunctioned during the recording of their first album, so Iommi quickly turned to his backup Gibson SG to finish the record. Currently Iommi owns two Stratocasters, one of which has been modified with his signature pick-up in the bridge position.

Custom built for Iommi by St. Moritz guitars, this is a replica of Iommi's Gibson SG "Monkey". It was used on the 13 album and for the tour.

Custom built for Iommi by BC Rich. Features include Dimarzio pick-ups, two built-in preamps, scalloped fretboard and Iommi's trademark cross inlays. This guitar can be seen in Tony's Star Licks Video, for Star Licks Productions along with a left handed BC Rich mockingbird.

A rare left-handed version of the jazz guitarist Barney Kessel artist model, built sometime in the first half of the 1960s.

Originally a regular right-handed version in red finish that was converted by Epiphone to a left-handed version to fit Iommi.





with Black Sabbath

with Heaven & Hell

with Jethro Tull

Guest and other appearances

Related Research Articles

Black Sabbath British heavy metal band

Black Sabbath were an English rock band formed in Birmingham in 1968 by guitarist Tony Iommi, drummer Bill Ward, bassist Geezer Butler and vocalist Ozzy Osbourne. They are often cited as pioneers of heavy metal music. The band helped define the genre with releases such as Black Sabbath (1970), Paranoid (1970), and Master of Reality (1971). The band had multiple line-up changes following Osbourne's departure in 1979, with Iommi being the only constant member throughout its history.

Ozzy Osbourne English heavy metal vocalist and songwriter

John Michael "Ozzy" Osbourne is an English singer, songwriter, actor, and television personality. He rose to prominence during the 1970s as the lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath, during which he adopted the nickname "The Prince of Darkness". Osbourne was fired from the band in 1979 due to alcohol and drug problems, but he went on to have a successful solo career, releasing eleven studio albums, the first seven of which were all awarded multi-platinum certifications in the United States. Osbourne has since reunited with Black Sabbath on several occasions. He rejoined the band in 1997 and helped record the group's final studio album 13 (2013), before they embarked on a farewell tour which culminated in a final performance in their home city, Birmingham, England, in February 2017. His longevity and success have earned him the informal title of "Godfather of Heavy Metal".

<i>Never Say Die!</i> 1978 studio album by Black Sabbath

Never Say Die! is the eighth studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, released in September 1978. It was the last studio album with the band's original lineup and also the last studio album to feature original vocalist Ozzy Osbourne until the 2013 album 13. It was certified Gold in the U.S on 7 November 1997 and as of November 2011 sold 133,000 copies in the United States since the SoundScan era. The album received mixed reviews, with critics calling it "unbalanced" and insisting its energy was scattered in too many directions.

<i>Headless Cross</i> (album) 1989 studio album by Black Sabbath

Headless Cross is the fourteenth studio album by English heavy metal band Black Sabbath. Released on 24 April 1989, it was the group's second album to feature singer Tony Martin and the first of three to feature drummer Cozy Powell, along with Tyr and Forbidden.

<i>Master of Reality</i> 1971 studio album by Black Sabbath

Master of Reality is the third studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, released on 21 July 1971. It is widely regarded as the foundation of doom metal, stoner rock, and sludge metal. It was certified double platinum after having sold over 2 million copies. Master of Reality was Black Sabbath's first and only top 10 album in the US until 13, forty-two years later.

<i>Black Sabbath</i> (album) 1970 album

Black Sabbath is the debut studio album by the English rock band Black Sabbath. Released on 13 February 1970 in the United Kingdom and on 1 June 1970 in the United States, the album reached number eight on the UK Albums Charts and number 23 on the Billboard charts. Black Sabbath is widely considered the first heavy metal album. Additionally, the opening track of the album, "Black Sabbath", is widely considered to be the first doom metal song.

Geezer Butler English musician, bassist and lyricist of Black Sabbath

Terence Michael Joseph "Geezer" Butler is an English musician and songwriter. Butler is best known as the bassist and primary lyricist of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath. He has also recorded and performed with Heaven & Hell, GZR, and Ozzy Osbourne. He currently serves as bassist of Deadland Ritual.

<i>Sabotage</i> (Black Sabbath album) 1975 studio album by Black Sabbath

Sabotage is the sixth studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, released in July 1975. It was recorded in the midst of litigation with their former manager Patrick Meehan and the stress that resulted from the band's ongoing legal woes infiltrated the recording process, inspiring the album's title. It was co-produced by guitarist Tony Iommi and Mike Butcher.

<i>Vol. 4</i> (Black Sabbath album) 1972 studio album by Black Sabbath

Vol. 4 is the fourth studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, released in September 1972. It was the first album by Black Sabbath not produced by Rodger Bain; guitarist Tony Iommi assumed production duties. Patrick Meehan, the band's then-manager, was listed as co-producer, though his actual involvement in the album's production was minimal.

<i>Sabbath Bloody Sabbath</i> 1973 studio album by Black Sabbath

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is the fifth studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, released in December 1973. It was produced by the band and recorded at Morgan Studios in London in September 1973.

William Thomas Ward is an English musician and visual artist, best known as the original drummer of the British heavy metal band Black Sabbath. He also performed lead vocals on two Black Sabbath songs: "It's Alright" from the album Technical Ecstasy and "Swinging the Chain" from the album Never Say Die!.

<i>Heaven and Hell</i> (Black Sabbath album) 1980 studio album by Black Sabbath

Heaven and Hell is the ninth studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, released on 25 April 1980. It is the first Black Sabbath album to feature vocalist Ronnie James Dio, who replaced original vocalist Ozzy Osbourne in 1979.

<i>Reunion</i> (Black Sabbath album) 1998 live album by Black Sabbath

Reunion is a live album by British heavy metal band Black Sabbath, released on 20 October 1998. As implied by the title, the album features a reunion of the original Black Sabbath lineup of vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward. The album represents the first new release featuring that version of the group since 1978's Never Say Die! and Osbourne's subsequent firing the following year. Black Sabbath received their first ever Grammy Award in 2000 for the live recording of "Iron Man" taken from Reunion.

"Fairies Wear Boots" is a song by the English heavy metal band Black Sabbath, appearing on their 1970 album Paranoid. It was released in 1971 as the B-side to the single "After Forever".

Tony Martin (British singer) English heavy metal musician

Anthony Philip Harford, better known by his stage name Tony Martin, is an English heavy metal vocalist, best known for his time fronting Black Sabbath, initially from 1987 to 1991 and again from 1993 to 1996. Martin was the band's second longest serving vocalist after Ozzy Osbourne. He has since been involved in many other projects.

Heaven & Hell (band) American band

Heaven & Hell were an English-American heavy metal band active from 2006 to 2010. The band was a collaboration featuring Black Sabbath founding members Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler along with former Black Sabbath and Dio members Ronnie James Dio and Vinny Appice.

"Symptom of the Universe" is a song by the heavy metal band Black Sabbath, from their 1975 album Sabotage. The song was an early influence on the development of thrash metal.

"Children of the Sea" is a song by heavy metal band Black Sabbath, from their ninth studio album, Heaven and Hell (1980).

The Heaven & Hell Tour was the ninth world concert tour by Black Sabbath between April 1980 and February 1981 to promote their 1980 studio album, Heaven and Hell. The tour marked the band's first live shows with vocalist Ronnie James Dio, who replaced original vocalist Ozzy Osbourne the previous year; drummer Vinny Appice, who replaced original drummer Bill Ward in the middle of the tour's North American leg after Ward suddenly left the band due to personal issues; and keyboardist Geoff Nicholls, who played keyboards on the Heaven and Hell album and accompanied the band on this tour as a sideman. For a portion of the North American tour, which was popularly known as the "Black and Blue Tour", Black Sabbath co-headlined with Blue Öyster Cult, with whom they shared a manager, Sandy Pearlman. The arrangement reportedly set attendance records but caused friction between the two bands as well as between Black Sabbath and Pearlman.


  1. 1 2 3 Iommi 2012, p. 1.
  2. Iommi 2012, p. 2.
  3. 1 2 Iommi 2012, p. 7.
  4. Iommi 2012, p. 8.
  5. Iommi 2012, p. 10.
  6. 1 2 Iommi 2012, p. 3.
  7. Iommi 2012, pp. 11–12.
  8. Iommi 2012, p. 12.
  9. Gill, Chris (December 2008). "The Eternal Idol". Guitar World.
  10. "Tony Iommi's fingertips". Archived from the original on 14 October 2013. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
  11. Iommi 2012, p. XI.
  12. Black, Johnny (14 March 2009). "Black celebration: the holy grail of Black Sabbath". Music Week . UBM Information Ltd. Archived from the original on 5 March 2012. Retrieved 27 August 2009.
  13. Iommi 2012, pp. XII, 20–21.
  14. 1 2 Woods, Rebecca (4 February 2017). "Black Sabbath: 'We hated being a heavy metal band'". BBC News. Archived from the original on 4 February 2017. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  15. Iommi, Tony (1997). "Never Say Die: Overcoming overwhelming odds, and the right way to play 'Paranoid' Archived 16 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine ." GuitarWorld, August, 1997.
  16. Iommi 2012, p. 21.
  17. "Tony Iommi Interview Outtakes, Guitar World". 17 October 2008. Archived from the original on 7 August 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2010.
  18. 1 2 Kitts, Jeff; Tolinski, Brad (2002). "Tony Iommi: I'll try anything to sound heavier". Guitar World presents 100 greatest guitarists of all time from the pages of Guitar World magazine. Hal Leonard. p. 13. ISBN   978-0-634-04619-3.
  19. Iommi 2012, pp. 25–27.
  20. Iommi 2012, p. 24.
  21. Michael Molenda, ed. Guitar Player Presents Guitar Heroes of the 70s (Milwaukee, WI: Backbeat Books, 2011), 131.
  22. Iommi 2012, p. 94.
  23. 1 2 Elliott, Paul. "Tony Iommi on inventing heavy metal, drinking with Gillan, and not being evil". Team Rock. Archived from the original on 21 September 2016. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  24. Iommi 2012, pp. 28–29.
  25. Iommi 2012, pp. 37–39.
  26. Iommi 2012, p. 39.
  27. 1 2 Osbourne, Ozzy (2011). I Am Ozzy. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN   978-0446569903.
  28. Iommi 2012, p. 43.
  29. "Black Sabbath, Live in Paris 1970". 20 December 1970. Archived from the original on 9 September 2012. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  30. Baltin, Steve (11 November 2011). "Black Sabbath Announce New Album Produced by Rick Rubin". Rolling Stone . Archived from the original on 11 May 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2011.
  31. "Toni Iommi To Make Movies?". 29 July 2009. Archived from the original on 21 October 2010. Retrieved 17 October 2010.
  32. "Awards & Acknowledgements – Tony Iommi Fan-tastic". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  33. Armenian PM sends a letter to Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi. 19.01.12 Archived 18 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  34. "Bill Ward not participating in Heaven & Hell". Archived from the original on 15 May 2007.
  35. "Judas Priest Head Up The Metal Masters Tour With Heaven & Hell, Motorhead and Testament – antiMUSIC News". 22 April 2008. Archived from the original on 22 May 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2010.
  36. Cohen, Jonathan (10 February 2009). "Heaven & Hell Feeling Devilish on New Album". Billboard . Archived from the original on 7 June 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2009.
  37. "Sabbath star Tony Iommi writes Eurovision entry". BBC News. Archived from the original on 7 March 2013. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
  38. "Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi writes Armenian Eurovision entry". Archived from the original on 9 March 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  39. Iommi 2012, pp. 98–99.
  40. "Iommi on Rockschool". YouTube. Archived from the original on 5 February 2009. Retrieved 5 August 2011.
  41. Iommi 2012, p. 116.
  42. Iommi 2012, p. 119.
  43. Iommi 2012: see the illustrations section
  44. "LunarMile's Biography at Myspace". Web. Archived from the original on 5 July 2013. Retrieved 3 August 2011.
  45. Iommi 2012, pp. 203–205.
  46. Tavio, Otto (6 April 2013). ""Isäni pelasti minut" – Black Sabbathin kitaristin tytär kotiutui Helsinkiin". Helsingin Sanomat. Archived from the original on 1 December 2013. Retrieved 29 November 2013.
  47. "HIM Guitarist Engaged To TONY IOMMI's Daughter". BlabberMouth.
  48. ""Isäni pelasti minut" – Black Sabbathin kitaristin tytär kotiutui Helsinkiin". Helsingin Sanomat . 29 November 2013. Archived from the original on 9 August 2016. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  49. Iommi 2012, pp. 306–308.
  50. Iommi 2012, p. 312.
  51. "Tony Iommi". IMDb. Archived from the original on 26 April 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2011.
  52. "Lita Ford History: Sleaze Roxx". Archived from the original on 12 August 2011. Retrieved 26 July 2011.
  53. "Black Sabbath star Tony Iommi receives honorary degree". BBC. 19 November 2013. Archived from the original on 20 November 2013. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
  54. "Cittadinanza". Ministero dell‘Interno (in Italian). Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  55. "Tony Iommi to undergo treatment for lymphoma". BBC News. 9 January 2012. Archived from the original on 20 April 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  56. "News] Tony Iommi Updates Fans on Cancer Treatment". RockTransmission. Archived from the original on 21 May 2013. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  57. "Tony Iommi To Finish Regular Cancer Treatment". Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  58. "OZZY OSBOURNE: 'It's The End Of BLACK SABBATH, Believe Me'". 27 October 2015. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  59. McKnight, Jenni (11 May 2016). "Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi wins battle with cancer". Daily Mirror. Archived from the original on 5 March 2017. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  60. "Exclusive: Tony Iommi discovered lump in his throat wasn't cancerous on Christmas Day". Planet Rock. Archived from the original on 7 January 2017. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  61. 1 2 "Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi writes choral music for Birmingham Cathedral". BBC News Online . BBC. 7 January 2017. Archived from the original on 7 January 2017. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  62. "Black Sabbath's Iommi is Metal Hammer's No. 1 Metal Guitarist". 17 March 2005. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
  63. "Jimi Hendrix, Dimebag, Tony Iommi, Eddie Van Halen Are Among 'Wildest Guitar Heroes". 6 March 2007. Archived from the original on 20 November 2009. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
  64. Hinds, Brends. "100 Greatest Guitarists". Rolling Stone. 25: Tony Iommi. Archived from the original on 5 February 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  65. "Joel McIver: The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists". Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  66. "Readers Poll Results: The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". Guitar World. 10 October 2012. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  67. "GUITAR WORLD's 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists of All Time". 23 January 2004. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  68. "Interview with IAN ANDERSON (JETHRO TULL)". August 2006. Archived from the original on 27 May 2013. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
  69. Interview taken from the TV program Gene Simmons' Rock School, 2005
  70. Ian Christe, Sound of the Beast, HarperCollins, 2010, p.342
  71. 1 2 "Tony Iommi: London Book-Signing Event Announced". 15 September 2011. Retrieved 18 May 2013.
  72. "Metal/Hard Rock Musicians Pay Tribute To BLACK SABBATH's 'Paranoid'". Retrieved 18 May 2013.
  73. "10 Great Left-Handed Guitarists". 14 July 2008. Archived from the original on 24 May 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  74. 1 2 "Judas Priest, Anthrax, Disturbed members, and More Send out Best Wishes to Tony Iommi". 10 January 2012. Archived from the original on 11 November 2013. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  75. "Metal Master: Michael Amott!". 8 February 2008. Archived from the original on 10 July 2013. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  76. CMJ New Music Monthly, April 2001, Num. 92, p.85
  77. Jeff Kitts, Brad Tolinski, Guitar World Presents the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time!, Hal Leonard Corporation, 2002, p.8
  78. "Tony Iommi "Iron Man" Interview". Archived from the original on 24 March 2014. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
  79. Bob Gulla, Guitar Gods: The 25 Players who Made Rock History, ABC-CLIO, 2009, p.8
  80. "Slash on Ozzy Osbourne Tour Setlist – "It Is Basically A Snapshot of My Entire Career Delivered at Maximum Velocity And Attitude"". 15 January 2011. Archived from the original on 2 December 2013. Retrieved 18 May 2013.
  81. "Interview:Scott Ian and Charlie Benante On Composing Music Of Mass Destruction". Archived from the original on 2 December 2013. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
  82. "Zakk Wylde: Guitar Boot Camp". 10 April 2013. Archived from the original on 10 June 2011. Retrieved 18 May 2013.
  83. Jon Wiederhorn, Katherine Turman, Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal, HarperCollins, 2013
  84. "Smashing Pumpkins: 'There Are Always More Riffs Than Words'". 26 April 2010. Archived from the original on 27 October 2014. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  85. "Interview: Soundgarden's Kim Thayil". Archived from the original on 19 February 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  86. "Nick Oliveri: 'The New QOTSA Record, I Can't Wait For People To Hear It'". 18 February 2013. Archived from the original on 30 May 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  87. "Jerry Cantrell talks 'Devils & Dinosaurs'". 17 April 2013. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  88. "Andy LaRocque interview". May 2008. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  89. 1 2 iNet Technologies, (14 January 2003). "Vintage Guitar magazine : Features :". Archived from the original on 21 December 2008. Retrieved 13 November 2010.
  90. "Jaydee Custom S.G. (a.k.a. No. 1, The Old Boy)". Archived from the original on 22 September 2010. Retrieved 19 October 2010.
  91. "Red Gibson SG (Monkey)". Archived from the original on 22 September 2010. Retrieved 19 October 2010.
  92. "Red Gibson Custom Shop S.G." Archived from the original on 22 September 2010. Retrieved 17 October 2010.
  93. "Custom Guitar Stolen". 11 August 2010. Archived from the original on 20 October 2010. Retrieved 17 October 2010.
  94. "Epiphone P94 Iommi model". Archived from the original on 22 September 2010. Retrieved 17 October 2010.
  95. "The Story of the Gibson Tony Iommi Signature Pick-up". Archived from the original on 22 September 2010. Retrieved 17 October 2010.
  96. "Tony's First Left-handed Guitar". Archived from the original on 22 September 2010. Retrieved 17 October 2010.
  97. "St. Moritz Guitars". Archived from the original on 25 July 2015. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  98. "Artist Model Gibson". Archived from the original on 22 September 2010. Retrieved 17 October 2010.
  99. "Epiphone Riviera 12 string". Archived from the original on 22 September 2010. Retrieved 17 October 2010.
  100. 1 2 3 4 "Tony Iommi's Equipment". Archived from the original on 10 October 2014. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
  101. "Tony Iommi Flies Solo". Archived from the original on 17 October 2006. Retrieved 7 February 2008.
  102. 1 2 Clement, Mike. "The Tony Iommi/Laney collaboration". Archived from the original on 22 September 2010. Retrieved 17 October 2010.
  103. Kennelty, Greg. "Listen: CANDLEMASS' New Song feat. BLACK SABBATH's Tony Iommi, "Astorolus – The Great Octopus"". Metal Injection. Retrieved 10 February 2019.