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TONY IOMMI: Biography, Guitars, and Pedalboard

Tony Iommi is widely recognized as one of the most important and influential guitarists in rock history, founder of one of the first pioneering bands in the development of Heavy Metal, Black Sabbath. Being the only permanent member within the group, and the main composer of their songs.

Tony Iommi: Biography

Anthony Frank Iommi was born in 1948 in the city of Birmingham (Aston), England.

Tony began to play guitar in his teens inspired by groups like The Shadows, the most influential group in British Pop until the arrival of the Beatles.

Tragic Accident for a Guitarist

But Tony Iommi's career was about to end prematurely, due to an accident at the metallurgical factory where he worked.

His mother reprimanded him the day he told her that he planned to quit work, to pursue his dream as a musician, forcing him to go to the factory.

When he showed up at the factory, he had to replace a colleague who had not been to work, having to operate a machine that cut sheet metal, and that Tony had never used. In one of the press cuts, Tony Iommi would lose the first phalanx of the ring finger and heart of his right hand. The hand he uses to finger the notes on the fretboard since Tony is left-handed.

His dream at that moment seemed to vanish suddenly, sinking into a depression. Until his boss came to visit him at the hospital and told him the story of Django Reinhardt. The great jazz guitarist who played with two fingers paralyzed from a burn.

After this conversation, Tony began to think that all was not lost, beginning to develop a way to continue his career as a guitarist.

Tony Iommi Ideas the Way to Keep Playing

To compensate for the lack of the fingertips, he used a rubber prosthesis on his fingertips and lowered the tuning of his instrument a tone and a half (C # - C #), in order to make the strings less tense and hard, to so he can play without it hurting.

Consequently, it obtained a thick, aggressive, and full-bodied sound, characteristic of the sound of Black Sabbath, and of Heavy Metal in general.

Black Sabbath formation

After participating in some blues bands, in 1967 he formed the group called Earth with three acquaintances from his school days: bassist Terry "Geezer" Butler, drummer Bill Ward, and singer John "Ozzy" Osbourne.

With another band playing in England under the name Earth, they were forced to change their nickname, renaming the group Black Sabbath. Name taken from the Italian film "I Tre Volti Della Paura" which in England was renamed "Black Sabbath".

And in 1970 Black Sabbath publishes its first self-titled album. Deploying already in their first album, the sinister and terrifying tone of the band in songs like Black Sabbath, or Nib.

That same year they would publish their second album, «Paranoid«. With legendary songs from the group such as Paranoid himself, Iron Man, and War Pigs.

The following year "Master of Reality" would be released, continuing the streak of successes, the group finally reached the top of the Heavy Rock bands. Although the members of the group would already begin to have serious problems with drugs.

Ozzy Osbourne is Banned from Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath would release five more albums in the 1970s, but by the end of the decade, constant drug use began to fracture the band. Thus arriving the dismissal of Ozzy Osbourne in 1979 for the absence of ideas for the group, being replaced by Ronnie James Dio.

After the release of Dio's debut album, "Heaven and Hell", Bill Ward left the band in 1980 because he did not feel comfortable with the new lead singer of the group, longing for his colleague Ozzy Osbourne. Being replaced on drums by Vinny Appice.

But at the end of 1982, both Dio and Vinny would leave the band due to disagreements with Iommi and Butler.

Later they would hire the singer Ian Gillan, former vocalist of Deep Purple, for the recording of the album "Born Again", but in 1984 Gillan and Butler left the band, leaving only Tony Iommi as the only original member.

Tony Iommi's First Solo Albums

In 1985 Iommi began working on what would initially be his first solo album "Seventh Star", although for commercial reasons it was finally released as "Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi", due to pressure from the record company.

Tony Iommi would continue to work under the name Black Sabbath, in collaboration with countless musicians. Until in the late '90s, Iommi reunited the original Sabbath lineup for quite successful tours. The double live album «Reunion« was published. Harvesting new fans, too young to have known the band in the heyday of the 70s.

In 2000 Tony Iommi publishes his first solo album simply titled "Iommi". Well received by critics and the public.

Tony Iommi and James Dio decided in 2006 to reunite former Black Sabbath members from the time of the "Heaven and Hell" album for a world tour. While the Osbourne, Butler, Iommi, and Ward line-up continued to be officially called Black Sabbath, this new line-up with Dio, Vinny, Iommi, and Butler chose to be called Heaven and Hell, just like the 1980 album to avoid confusion.

After some tours Heaven and Hell would release in 2009 his first studio album, "The Devil You Know", planning a world tour that unfortunately had to be suspended due to the death of Ronnie James Dio in 2010 due to stomach cancer.

Black Sabbath's last studio album would be released in 2013, simply titled "13".

Tony Iommi disease

In recent years Tony Iommi has suffered serious health problems due to cancer that was diagnosed in 2012. Although his condition improved with medical treatments, his doctor sees it very likely that he will never fully recover from the disease. Having to undergo painful chemotherapy treatments.

One year after the diagnosis of the disease, Tony Iommi would receive an honorary doctorate from Coventry University, due to his important contribution to popular music.

In 2016 Black Sabbath embarked on their last tour, entitled "The End Tour", with the band's last concert taking place in the hometown of Iommi (Birmingham) in early 2017.

Tony Iommi: Guitar and Amps

Tony Iommi's iconic guitar is the Gibson SG in different models. For example the Custom Gibson SG Special and the Gibson SG "Monkey" he would use early in his career.

Tony Iommi Gibson SG Guitar

The last model he has used is the 2014 Jaydee SG Custom Oldboy Standard. He has even used a Gibson SG model with Floyd Rose.

In 50 years of musical career Tony has used endless brands of amplifiers:

 - Laney Supergroup

 - Marshall Super Lead 1959

 - Mesa Boogie Mark IIB Coliseum

 - Orange Matamp

 - ENGL Powerball


The strings used are from the brand "La Bella" with different gauges for each tuning. For Re # (D #) use the gauges .008p, .008p, .011p, .018w, .024w, .032w - and for Do # (C #) .009p, .010p, .012p, .020w, .032w,. 042w.

And the picks I used are the 0.96mm thick Dunlop Delrin 500.

Among the effects pedals you have used are:

 - Analogman Beano Boost Treble Booster

 - Tycobrahe Wah

 - Drawmer LX20 Expander / Compressor

 - Boss OC-3 Super Octave

 - Ibanez TubeScreamer TS9 and TS808


Black Sabbath is known for being one of the three mythical inspiring bands of the genre later known as Heavy Metal. The other two are Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. Although particularly, the characteristic sound of Tony Iommi's guitar, notoriously influenced countless future Heavys guitarists. Being popularly known as "The Father of Heavy Metal".

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