Legendary Tony Iommi, “the man who invented the heavy metal riff”, turns 71 today

He’s one of the most influential, respected and legendary guitar players of all time

Legendary Tony Iommi, “the man who invented the heavy metal riff”, turns 71 today

Legendary Tony Iommi was born Frank Anthony Iommi on February 19, 1948, in Birmingham, England. His Italian mother’s family were vineyard owners in Italy and Tony was raised a Catholic, however, seldom went to mass, but, he stated in 2016 that he believed in God and was a Catholic, however not having attended church services since childhood. 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 affected his playing style. After playing in several bands during the mid to late 1960’s, he founded the band that would become Black Sabbath in 1968 together with Ozzy Osbourne, Bill Ward and Geezer Butler, however, later that year, he briefly departed from the band to join Jethro Tull, with whom he did only two performances, including a famous one at legendary Rolling Stones special, The Rolling Stones Rock N’ Roll Circus. Shortly after he returned to Black Sabbath. In 1970 the band released their first album “Black Sabbath” which established them from minute one as the leaders of the new and emerging Heavy Metal music scene. Tony has been the band’s sole continual member and primary composer for nearly five decades. In 2000, he released his first solo album “Iommi”, followed by 2005’s “Fused”. Tony Iommi is widely considered to be one of the greatest rock guitarists of all time, and admired by peers such as Brian May of Queen, that considers Tony “the true father of heavy metal” (Iommi also played with May and Queen at The Freddie Mercury Tribute in 1992), 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”. “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”. 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. Catherine Ogle, the Dean of Birmingham, said, “This is a most wonderful gift Tony offered to the cathedral. Another little-known fact about Tony is that he wrote the song “Lonely Planet” which was sung by Dorians for Armenia in the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest. Tony was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.

Celebrate Tony Iommi’s 70th birthday watching the Black Sabbath concert Live in Paris, 1970

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