Happy Birthday, Tony Iommi

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014
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Happy Birthday, Tony Iommi

Today is a Black day in rock ‘n’ roll history…by which, of course, we mean that it’s the day Black Sabbath lead guitarist Tony Iommi was born.

Born in Birmingham, England in 1948, Iommi had a love of music from a young age and quickly developed a passion for playing it, but his future career as a guitar god was almost ended prematurely when, at the age of 17, an accident at the sheet metal factory where he was working led him to lose the tips of the middle and ring finger of his right hand. Inspired by Django Reinhardt, who was forced to use only the index and middle fingers of his left hand for solos after his third and fourth fingers were paralyzed, Iommi forced himself to learn how to play anew.

As Iommi wrote in his 2011 autobiography, Iron Man: My Journey through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath…

“Probably the easiest thing would have been to flip the guitar upside down and learn to play right-handed instead of left-handed. I wish I had in hindsight, but I thought, well, I've been playing for a few years already, it's going to take me another few years to learn it that way. That seemed like a very long time, so I was determined to keep playing left-handed.”

All told, it’s hard to imagine that things would’ve worked out any better for Iommi than they ultimately did if he’d decided to try being a righty: things may have been a little tentative when he first teamed up with Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, and Bill Ward in August 1968 (believe it or not, Iommi actually stepped away to join Jethro Tull for a brief stint), but by the time the quartet decided to call themselves Black Sabbath in August of the following year, he was back in the pack, and aside from a few solo forays and the semi-Sabbath project known as Heaven & Hell, he’s stayed there for the long haul.

Celebrate the birthday boy with us and have a listen to the playlist we’ve put together especially for the occasion...and when you do, turn it up. (Everyone knows that Black Sabbath riffs sound best at maximum volume.)