Very talented and popular guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, able to make himself appreciated also on the transverse flute and on the piano, composer of very good quality, he linked his name to that of the heavy metal band of Black Sabbath, of which he was the only permanent component in their long history.
A prominent figure in heavy metal, a reference point for many guitarists and musicians who, after the 70s decided to embrace the heavy style, the British artist owes his excellent technique and fluidity of touch to the fact of having listened, in his youth, especially blues and jazz.
According to many critics, Iommi literally created, with his own sound, more than the heavy metal genre that of heavy rock, especially thanks to the parenthesis linked to the first ten years with Black Sabbath.
Anthony Frank Iommi was born on February 19th 1948 in Birmingham in UK. He grew up as the only child and his parents owned a vineyard in Italy.
Even though he grew up in a Catholic family, they were never too religious. Tony was raised in Birmingham and went to the Burchfield Road School. It was there that he met one of the most important people in his life, Ozzy Osbourne.
Tony fell in love with music from an early age and played the guitar with his left hand. Besides music, he loved sports, so he trained kick boxing, judo and karate.
This was also a way to protect himself from the local gangs, since his neighborhood was very dangerous.
Before becoming a successful musician, he worked as a plumber for a while, which only motivated him to chase his dream of becoming a music star one day.
When he was 17 years old, he suffered an accident that cost him his finger tips on the ring and middle finger.
Many people even told him that he will never play the guitar again but he ended up proving them differently. He trained really hard until he was able to overcome all the difficulties and play like no one else.
This has made him into one of the best guitar players in the world and this title is still something that is being attached to his name.
Tony Iommi is one of the best guitarists in rock history. The young Anthony however, musically forges himself especially in the adolescent period, when he listens to the music of the Shadows and their guitarist, Hank Marvin, who has always been the inspiring god for the future guitarist of the Black Sabbath.
It is during school that Iommi knows and makes a strong friendship with his future colleagues. He knows bassist Geezer Butler, drummer Bill Ward and, above all, the future front man of Black, Ozzy Osbourne.
They are not the most popular boys of the institute and to confirm this, there is precisely the nickname of Ozzy, so called because targeted by other students, as suffering from a severe stutter. It is 1968 when the four get together to create a rock musical formation, the “Polka Tulk”, which by 1969 would become the “Earth”.
In this period Tony Iommi is convinced that he has an excellent guitar talent and it is no coincidence that a band already launched, like the legendary Jethro Tull, calls him to replace, albeit temporarily, their official guitarist.
Anyway, after the school break, the young musician gets busy in a workshop, repairing typewriters. During a shift, however, a press amputates the upper phalanges of the middle and ring finger of his right hand, compromising his career as a guitarist.
Iommi is in fact left-handed, and the right hand is the reference to press the strings on the guitar fretboard.
The doctors are unable to reattach the amputated parts and after a few months in the hospital, the young Anthony is discharged, plunging into a period of great depression.
To shake him, months later, is the music of the legendary guitarist Django Reinhardt, who like him lost the use of some parts of his fingers due to a fire, which allowed him to give life to a style of his own, becoming one of the greatest guitarists in history. This is what happens to the same young musician from Birmingham.
Iommi finds courage and hope and, thanks to the use of some prostheses made by himself (a sort of plastic finger caps), he returns to play at his levels. Furthermore, to personalize his sound, is another gimmick, of which the guitarist has treasured, making his own impairment necessary.
To have the softest strings, Iommi always tunes the instrument a semitone lower than normal guitars, which ends up forever characterizing its sound and, of course, that of the nascent Black Sabbath, widely loved and appreciated thanks to the dark sound and “bass” of the guitar.
Finally, the prosthesis gives the possibility to the guitarist, lover of the blues, to perform much faster and more precise slides on the strings, almost an evolution of the technique used by his African American models.
In the last months of 1969 Iommi found his traveling companions but, during some performances, then still under the name of “Earth”, everyone realized that they had to resort to a new type of sound, definitively abandoning jazz influences and blues, considered outdated.
With Osbourne, Ward and Butler, the young guitarist begins to compose and experiment, until he finds the right style that, shortly thereafter, would have characterized the new band of Black Sabbath.
The name, however, is due to a horror film by Boris Karloff, while the texts, in perfect contrast to the pacifist climate of the time, investigate themes such as death, drugs, mental illness, war and religion.
The first single from Black Sabbath is titled “Evil Woman”, and is dated 1970. It is a cover of Crow, but you can already see the change in style of the new band that appears on the British scene.
Immediately, the album “Black Sabbath” is released, which as usual between the rock bands of the 60s and 70s as regards each debut record, it is called as the same group that is the author.
It is February 13, 1970 when the first album of Iommi and companions sees the light in England: it will sell over 2,300,000 copies worldwide.
“The Wizard” and “NIB” are songs that literally leave their mark in the imagination of rock. The following year, “Paranoid” arrives, which proves to be a real revolution, perhaps the best work of the band.
Iommi and Osbourne become stars, thanks to songs like “Iron Man” and “War pigs”, which bring the Black Sabbath to the top of the charts.
Until 1979 the band dictated the law by acting as a reference point in the field of metal and heavy hard rock. The albums “Master of Reality”, in 1971, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”, in 1974, “Technical Ecstasy”, in 1976, and “Never Say Die”, in 1978, come out.
The idyll between Iommi and Osbourne broke down between 1979 and 1980, when the singer definitively left the band. Drug abuse on his part seems to be the trigger for the ultimate breakdown.
From this moment Tony Iommi remains the true and only point of reference of the band, which over the years will change its formation several times, always revolving around the great guitarist, the only historical component that has never given up.
Ozzy is replaced by Ronnie James Dio, a former Rainbow front man. The first album with the new singer arrives on April 25, 1980 and is titled “Heaven and Hell”. It is a great success, the best achieved by the band since 1975. The keyboardist Geoff Nicholls also takes part in this record.
The following tour reveals to the public the skill of God, charismatic and great vocalist, who in this period makes the gesture of the horns famous, later adopted as a sort of “recognition” by metal enthusiasts.
Around 1985, Iommi gets to work on his first solo album, which represents a turning point for him. The album is titled “Seventh Star” and was released in 1986, together with bassist Glenn Hughes.
For marketing reasons, however, in addition to the name of Iommi, the record product also maintains that of Black Sabbath.
Then comes 1995, the year of “Forbidden”, the band’s last official album, after a continuous series of line-up changes, which see musicians like Ian Gillian alternate (he too, like Hughes, a former Deep Purple), Tony Martin , Cozy Powell, Neil Murray and many others.
These changes destabilize the group and, also from the point of view of quality and sales, there is a certain decline.
Five years later, however, Tony Iommi releases his real official record, which is simply titled “Iommi”.
It is dated 2000 and there are many guests in this work, such as old adventure partner Ozzy Osbourne, as well as Phil Anselmo, guitarist Brian May, Dave Grohl and Serj Tankian.
Four years later, “The 1996 DEP Sessions” also arrives, a replay of a 1996 album never released before.
The following year, it was the turn of “Fused”, written by Iommi and Bob Marlette, with texts by Glenn Hughes.
Furthermore, in 2006, Iommi started the swinging project “Heaven and Hell”, which includes old and new musicians of Black Sabbath.
Married to Swedish singer Maria Sjölholm, Iommi’s daughter is Toni-Marie Iommi, also a musician and singer of the band “LunarMile”.
On January 9, 2012, the guitarist announced that he was diagnosed with early stage lymphoma.
Full name: Anthony Frank Iommi
Date of birth: February 19th 1948
Birthplace: Birmingham, UK
Profession: Guitar player
Height: 1.80 m
Weight: 77 kg
Net Worth: 140$ million