Tony Iommi was a founding member of the hugely influential heavy metal band Black Sabbath. Born Frank Anthony Iommi on February 19th, 1948 in Aston, Birmingham, UK. He played guitar in at least two bands with Bill Ward before teaming up with the other Black Sabbath members; Geezer Butler and the infamous Ozzy Osbourne. Originally, Tony and Ozzy didn't like each other as they were in rival Birmingham street gangs. In 1969 he had a one week tenure with a band called Jethro Tull, and was supposedly thrown out because of his drug abuse.

After Ronnie James Dio and Vinny Appice left Black Sabbath in October 1982, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler continued in it. However, the line-up changed several times between 1982 and 1991. Then Ronnie James Dio rejoined the band. After Ronnie had again left them, Tony Iommi continued in Black Sabbath planning the original line-up reunion - which eventually never saw the light. Iommi is the only band member to appear on every Sabbath album, and he has also done many solo albums and side projects.

Tony is a brilliant and innovative guitar player for a number of reasons. Sure there were other 'heavy metal' bands such as Led Zeppelin, Cream and Deep Purple, but none of them ever came close to approaching the gloom, doom and sheer heaviness of Tony's riffage. This deep, dark sound was derived from a bizarre twist of fate... Due to an unfortunate industrial accident when he was 18, he lost the tips of his middle and index fingers on his right hand. Doctors told him he would never play guitar again, and he was distraught. While he was down in the dumps, something happened that gave Tony a new hope: "A pal of mine brought me a record of Django Reinhardt a world-renowned gypsy guitarist and said, "Listen to this guy play." I went, "No way mate! Listening to someone play guitar is the last thing I want to do right now!"

Due to his friend's persistence, Tony put the record on and liked what he heard. Then his pal informed him of the fact that Django had also had a dreadful accident and, as a result, was only able to use two fingers on his fretting hand. Tony was so taken aback by this revelation that he became inspired to do what ever he could to start playing again. "When I heard what he was able to do with only two fingers it gave me the spirit to give it another go."

After trying unsuccessfully to play right-handed, Tony came up with the rather brilliant idea of making himself thimbles for the tips of his two damaged fingers. Despite not being able to feel the ends of his thimble wearing fingers, Tony set about relearning how to play.

Added to this, Tony detuned his guitar (lowered the pitch of the strings). This meant the pressure on his fingertips was reduced, helping to ease the pain of playing. This was a very unconventional approach, and from it came the deep, dark 'heavy as shit' Sabbath sound that many current metal (and other) bands emulate.

Nearly all of metal and heavy rock music sounds nowadays can be in someway attributed to Iommi and Black Sabbath. For examples of his guitar brilliance listen to Sabbath songs such as Paranoid, War Pigs or Supernaught, to name but a few.

Chronological Discography of Tony Iommi Appearances (band/artist in italics):

Rock on.

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