Happy Belated Birthday Tony Iommi! (Feb 19, 1948)

blog cover image

(Title image by DALL-E 3)

Hi WA Friends!

Let's celebrate the birthday of one of my absolute favorite guitar players, Tony Iommi! Sorry it took me a few days to finish this, but I really wanted to do the man justice.

If you like Metal music and feel like taking a little break from your daily drudgery, read on!

A Brief History

Born on February 19, 1948, in Birmingham, England, Tony has always been the mastermind behind the heavy metal band Black Sabbath's dark guitar riffs. He has been called the "Dark Lord" and the Grandfather of Heavy Metal. Have a listen to his playing, and you'll know why! Haha

Aside from his tenure with Black Sabbath, Tony has been involved in various projects, including Jethro Tull for a brief period and his solo work, which explores different facets of his musical prowess. His ability to adapt and explore different musical landscapes while maintaining his signature sound is a testament to his versatility as a musician.

How a Freak Accident Changed Everything!

Tony's journey into musical fame was both challenging and transformative. His early years were marked by a life-changing accident in a metal factory where he lost the tips of two fingers on his right hand! It happened the day before he was to quit that job to turn pro on guitar and go on the road with his band.

This setback, however, became a pivotal moment in his career as he developed a unique playing style using homemade thimbles on his injured fingers and detuning his guitar to ease the tension on the strings.

I would have turned the guitar upside down and learned to play right-handed, but Tony adapted his playing style around two and three-finger "power chords," which changed the entire structure of Rock music and essentially invented the "Heavy Metal" sound!

The Sabbath Years

Iommi's career took off with Black Sabbath in the late 1960s, alongside Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, and Bill Ward. Their groundbreaking debut album, "Black Sabbath" (1970), is often cited as the first true heavy metal album, with Tony's gloomy, downtuned riffs setting the standard for the genre.

The band's early albums, including "Black Sabbath," "Paranoid," "Master of Reality," and "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath," are generally considered cornerstones of heavy metal music, showcasing Tony's innovative guitar work that has influenced countless musicians over the generations to come!

Was Sabbath a Satanic Band?

Absolutely not, despite the satanic nature of many of their song's lyrics. They did gather a large following of Satanists over the years, which they politely avoided. The band actually got its name from the movie starring Boris Karloff called "Black Sabbath."

The lyrics from the title song of their first album, "Black Sabbath," were taken from a dream that Geezer Butler, the bass player, had. It was so popular that the band kept that lyrical style, along with the musical feel that went along with it.

(The movie the band was named after.)

Some Personal Notes

I really couldn't believe my ears when I heard the first Black Sabbath album way back in 1970. I instantly fell in love with the power and the sound of the band and carried their first album to my "preppy" little high school almost every day for three or four weeks! Lol

Tony hid the fingers of his right hand in every photo, and I had no idea he had the accidental deformity until sometime in the late 1990s or early 1980s, but it made me respect his playing all the more!

I blew out my first guitar speaker playing the opening to the song "War Pigs," which I recorded from the album. It was the sound of air raid sirens. One day, I played it back too loud, and it blew out one of the 15-inch speakers in a fender cabinet I was playing through, which made a horrible "screeching" sound that ruined the rest of the band's practice session. Lol

My mother drove me to a music store in a neighboring state to buy an "Electrovoice SRO" replacement speaker, which had too high a power rating to breakup naturally, with my 50-Watt amplifier, so I sold it to my bass player.

I got a Marshall Plexi Super Lead amp during my college years in the mid-seventies, but it was impossible to get a Laney stack back then, even in New York music stores!

Finding the Elusive Sound!

It took me quite a while to figure out how Tony got his signature "trebly" overdriven sound with the double coil (humbucking) pickups on his Gibson SG guitar. My high school band played every song on the Black Sabbath and Paranoid albums (except for "Planet Caravan) and most of the songs on Master of Reality and Black Sabbath, Vol. 4.

I used a single-coil pickup (Stratocaster) guitar to mimic Tony's trebly sound until I finally discovered that he used a Rangemaster Treble Booster to overdrove his amp!

I couldn't get my hands on a Rangemaster Treble Booster in the USA, but I bought an Electro-Harmonix "Screaming Bird," which finally allowed me to use a Gibson SG guitar with double-coil pickups on a! Lol.

(My vintage treble booster)

The treble booster went through two updates and was finally discontinued by Electro-Harmonix in 2020. None of them had the sound of my original '70s unit, which I still have and is worth several hundred dollars today (see image above).

The Ozzy vs. Ronnie Eras

Ozzy Osbourne left Black Sabbath after they recorded the album "Never Say Die" in 1978 when his alcohol and drug addiction made it impossible for him to continue. Ozzy recorded with the band over the years, and his last studio album with Black Sabbath is "13", released in 2013. Ozzy toured on the band's farewell tour, which ended in 2017.

There's a huge difference in the sound of the band and the kind of material they wrote in the Ozzy and Dio years. I love both eras, but I think Tony's guitar playing became even better with Ronnie James Dio, and his sound became more expansive as improvements in digital effects became available, especially with delay and echo!

Equipment Used by Tony (for all you "WA Gearheads," Lol)

Here is a listing of the most common equipment Tony used, compliments of ChatGPT and me.


  • Early Days (1960s):
    • Gibson SG Special (Standard and left-handed versions) - became his main guitar, nicknamed "Monkey"
  • 1970s - 1980s:
    • Gibson SG Custom and various modified SGs
    • Jaydee Custom SG (custom-built by John Davis)
  • 1990s - Present:
    • Gibson SG signature models (various)
    • Ibanez Artcore AS73
    • Epiphone SG signature models
    • Custom-built guitars by John Mayer and others

Amps and Effects:

  • Early Days:
    • Vox AC30
    • Laney Supergroup LA 100 BL amplifier (his signature sound)
    • Dallas Rangemaster Treble Booster
  • 1970s - 1980s:
    • Marshall Super Lead 1959 modified by John "Dawk" Stillwell
    • Laney Supergroup amplifiers
    • Various Marshall amplifiers (JCM800, 9005 Power Amplifiers, etc.)
    • Custom-made effects pedals by Pete Cornish
  • 1990s - Present:
    • Laney GH100TI Tony Iommi signature amplifier
    • Various Laney amplifiers
    • Custom-made effects pedals and rack units (e.g., Tycobrahe Parapedal wah, Drawmer LX20 compressor)
    • La Bella strings

Other Equipment:

  • Dunlop Tortex picks
  • GHS Boomers strings (earlier years)
  • Wireless systems (later years)

Honors and Awards

Tony has received numerous accolades throughout his career. Here's a listing of some of the highlights:

Grammy Awards:

  • 2019: Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (Solo)
  • 2014: Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance (with Black Sabbath for "God Is Dead?")
  • 2014: Grammy Award for Best Rock Album (with Black Sabbath for "13")
  • 2020: Grammy Nomination for Best Metal Performance (with Candlemass for "Astorolus - The Great Octopus")

Other Awards:

  • 2006: Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Black Sabbath
  • 2009: Armenian Order of Honour (with Ian Gillan for Rock Aid Armenia benefit project)
  • 2011: Rolling Stone Ranked Iommi #25 in "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time"
  • 2012: Guitar World Readers Ranked Iommi #7 Greatest Rock Guitarist of All Time
  • 2012: Guitar World Editors Ranked Iommi #1 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarist of All Time
  • 2013: Honorary Doctorate of Arts degree from Coventry University
  • 2015: Q Awards - Gibson Les Paul Award
  • 2018: Kerrang! Awards - Icon Award
  • 2019: Inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame
  • 2023: Ranked #13 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of greatest guitarists of all time


Most Black Sabbath fans don't realize the extent of what Tony actually recorded throughout the years. Check out this discography; compliments to ChatGPT!

If you listen to just a sampling, I recommend the following three albums: Black Sabbath (1970), Paranoid (1970), and Heaven And Hell (1980). The first two were recorded with Ozzy Osbourne, and the third one was recorded during the Ronnie James Dio era.

You can hear the improvement in Tony's guitar playing over the ten-year span. Still, I have a soft spot in my heart for the early stuff with Ozzy, which is so iconic sounding!


  • 1996: Iommi
  • 2000: The 1996 DEP Sessions
  • 2004: Fused
  • 2005: The Nomad Lives On (compilation)
  • 2007: Iommi: Who Cares (with WhoCares)
  • 2010: Past Lives (compilation)
  • 2010: Heaven & Hell - Live from the Radio City Music Hall (with Heaven & Hell)
  • 2011: Black Sabbath - Live...From Buenos Aires (with Black Sabbath)
  • 2012: Ozzy & Friends Live At Mountain View (with Ozzy Osbourne)
  • 2013: Seventh Star (compilation)
  • 2013: 13 (with Black Sabbath)
  • 2016: The End (with Black Sabbath)

With Black Sabbath:

  • 1970: Black Sabbath
  • 1970: Paranoid
  • 1971: Master of Reality
  • 1972: Black Sabbath, Vol. 4
  • 1973: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
  • 1975: Sabotage
  • 1976: Technical Ecstasy
  • 1978: Never Say Die!
  • 1980: Heaven and Hell (as Black Sabbath)
  • 1981: Mob Rules (as Black Sabbath)
  • 1983: Born Again (as Black Sabbath)
  • 1986: Seventh Star
  • 1987: The Eternal Idol
  • 1989: Headless Cross
  • 1990: Tyr
  • 1992: Dehumanizer
  • 1994: Cross Purposes
  • 1995: Forbidden
  • 2013: 13
  • 2016: The End
  • 2017: Paranoid (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)
  • 2018: Black Sabbath (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)
  • 2019: Master of Reality (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)
  • 2020: Vol. 4 (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)
  • 2021: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)
  • 2022: Sabotage (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)
  • 2023: Technical Ecstasy (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)
  • 2023: Never Say Die! (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)

Guest Appearances:

  • 1975: Cozy Powell - Nadir's Big Red Racing Car
  • 1982: Gillan's Inn - Double Trouble
  • 1983: Cozy Powell - Octopus
  • 1986: Rock Aid Armenia - The Earthquake Album
  • 1989: Dave Navarro - Trust No One
  • 1992: Ian Gillan - Nightmare Revisited
  • 1994: Cathedral - The Carnival Bizarre
  • 1997: Dio - Inferno
  • 2000: Queensrรฟche - Tribe
  • 2001: Ozzy Osbourne - Down to Earth
  • 2004: Ian Gillan - Ian Gillan's Rock Band
  • 2020: Candlemass - Astarolus - The Great Octopus

Tell Me What You Think

You're most likely a hardcore Sabbath fan if you made it down to here without skipping around! Let me know what you think of Tony's guitar playing and Black Sabbath in the comments.

Happy Birthday, Tony! ๐ŸŽ‚, AND...

Keep On Rockin'! ๐Ÿค˜
Frank ๐ŸŽธ

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Recent Comments


Hi there, Frank.

Just stopped in to wish Toni Lommi a Happy Birthday!

I see you have worked your tush off once again preparing an amazing anthology of musical history. I commend you for your continued dedication and loyalty for what you are really passionate about.

There is a lot of knowledge, experience, expertise and entertainment here.
Really enjoyed this learning curve about new things and news gigs.

Keep rolling out the rockers. One of my hometown fav is Bruce Springteen. Did you know there is a so-called Bruce Springsteem diet and exercise tips? He's still rocking it.


Hi Rachele

So glad you enjoyed it! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Most of the info was off the top of my head, except for the awards and some of the discography.

Bruce Springsteen really rocks, too!

Frank ๐Ÿค˜๐ŸŽธ

Excellent curation, Frank.

This is genius. Guess you have lots of encyclopedias embedded in your head. Do you sleep at all, my friend?

Rock on!

Hi Rachele

Yes, thereโ€™s lots of information rattling around up there in my head! Lol

I sleep 3 to 5 hours a night with naps during the day, but I wouldnโ€™t recommend it.

I donโ€™t usually spend that โ€œupโ€ time doing anything โ€œproductive,โ€ mostly playing/listening to music and watching movies with headphones. Haha

Stacy and I stay up until about 2 AM on Friday and Saturday evenings, and then she catches up on her sleep in the morning and during the week.

I come from a โ€œpartyingโ€ family, so it's almost second nature. Lol ๐Ÿ˜Ž

It's all good clean fun, of course, no drugs or alcohol except for maybe a glass of wine with dinner.

Rock On! ๐Ÿค˜
Frank ๐ŸŽธ

Hi there, Frank.

I guess when the brain is in active mode, it must be hard to turn it off. Playing/listening to music is productive, you know. It is actually a form of meditation (at least to some people).

You and Stacy enjoy the best part of life. I love the wee hours of the morning best, too. That's so nice that you let her catch up on her sleep. You are a real gentleman.

I have been an all-nighter (night owl) for so long, it's not easy signing off at midnight. It still takes a while to unwind.

Believe it or not, at one point in time, I could get by with about 5 hours or less, but I was drinking a lot of coffee. Going through caffeine withdrawal is no joke. OMG.

I only drink fresh, brewed coffee though, if any. I hear that coffee is good for us, so I still drink it. I have it in the morning with breakfast.

Family fun could be the missing piece in the American culture, seems like. At least from my vantage point. There's way too much competition and too little cooperation in many families..

This has got to change. I work with families and family members and there's way too much disconnect. Bless their hearts.

My final thesis was a real case study of a mother and her 15-year old daughter. She literally treated her mum like a rubbish. However, this was one of my favorite families ever. The transition I witnessed was epic.

Nice chat and thanks for listening.
Happy a Terrific Thursday.

p.s. It's past midnight
Talk soon.๐Ÿ˜˜

Hi Rachele

Itโ€™s better to get as close to 8 hours sleep a night as possible, but my brain doesnโ€™t work that way.

I agree with you that the nuclear and extended family units need to be more unified.

Frank ๐Ÿค˜๐ŸŽธ

I agree 100% Frank. ๐Ÿฅฐ

I welcome the exterrestial martians to come to help us earthlings out. Maybe AI will come to the rescue.
In the meanwhile I'll get ready to wind down.

By the way, the nuclear family have gone ballistic and I love it. But, we didn't do it (lol). I'll be a millionaire soon, my friend, if I endure (and I will). We can't save the whole world, though.

Great weekend ahead.
p.s. Signing off in 30.

Have an outstanding weekend, Rachele! ๐Ÿฅณ

Frank ๐Ÿค˜๐ŸŽธ

Great weekend ahead, Frank.

My baby boy Kai is two today. Had a nice time at the Aquarian of the Pacific. We are also celebrating tomorrow for a bit.

He has a voracious appetite. No worries, we'll put him on a plant-based in a few years out (lol)

Let's rock and roll!

Hi Rachele

I Googled the Aquarium and itโ€™s super impressive! Iโ€™m sure you had a fabulous time!๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

Iโ€™d like to check out the shark lagoon! ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿฆˆ

Have a great Sunday!
Frank ๐ŸŽธ

Sure thing, Frank.

It is a great experience for the whole family. There is so much to see and learn. However, I am a little ambivalent about holding these fish species in captivity. My favs are the jellyfish and the octopus, though.

I heard that the aquarium has it's own DJ but I didn't see that section. The shark lagoon is pretty cool, for sure. If you use the brochure guide you can do the tour in about 2 hours.

This is only my second time and I still haven't seen everything. It is the Disneyland of the sea, for sure. Not sure if I want to add fish to my diet after this (lol).

Have a wonderful Sunday.

It sounds like a great interactive experience for children and adults, Rachele. ๐Ÿ‘

We go to the New England Aquarium in Boston. Itโ€™s very nice, but no where near as extensive as yours. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Frank ๐Ÿค˜๐ŸŽธ

Hi Frank.

Another thing about the Aquarian - it is in the same city as the Spruce Goose (which is now in Oregon) and the Queen Mary ship. These are two major landmarks in Long Beach.

The Queen Mary visitor stats took a huge hit during the pandemic. Things are looking up again.

I've pretty much covered all of the tourist spots in California, NJ, NY, PA, AZ, NV, Wahington, D.C. and a few more in my lifetime. With kids and grandkids, we just rinse and repeat. My all time favs are the LA Ice Capades and the NY Rockettes.

Nowadays, we play it by ear, and take one day at a time. My step girls are great moms with great hubbys as well.

Because of a huge blended family dynamic, my grandsons have about 3 or 4 sets of grandparents. No stress there. We all take turns babysitting, right? Plus we all live 2-3 hours apart.

Last year Kai's birthday party filled up an entire Mile-Square Regional Park in Fountain Valley. It was epic. Every year, something different.

p.s. Let's keep rolling๐Ÿ›ผ๐Ÿ›ผ

Hi Rachele

Yeah weโ€™ve seen the Rocketts many times at Radio City Music Hall.

Big families are great! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Frank ๐ŸŽธ

Hi there, Frank.

The Rockettes are amazing. They have a documentary that chronicles how hard they train to become a Rockette. it is really eye-opening. I agree with you 100 %.

Families are great. They are our first socialization. We are wired to belong and connect, right? Nothing like a complete blend of whackadoodles.

Rock on!

Hi Rachele

Yeah, some of my family members are real characters, but I wouldnโ€™t trade them for anything. Lol

Frank ๐ŸŽธ

Absolutely, Frank.

Like the commercial says - America, Love it, or Leave it.
Same with family. In my case, "Can't live with 'em and can't live without 'em." Right now, this doesn't apply because we all live in separate environments. "I'm a leave the door open," like the song by Bruno Mars.

Love 'em or leave 'em. I absolutely love them 90 % of the time, unconditionally...I'm getting there, my friend. Like mum says - "no one in this family has to be homeless." That's my motto too.

My bark is bigger than my bite. When it comes down to it, I got my peeps back. No one has to go hungry or homeless, right? Food and love are the main things that keeps them coming back, right?

Back in the day, our house was like a a medical center. When someone lost a job, couldn't find work, or needed a shoulder to lean on, everyone came to our house. So, my door is always open for family, no matter what. I learned this from you and the Italians. ๐Ÿฅฐ

We rescue any family member in despair. My mum was like a friend to the friendless and she took care of everyone until they were able to fend for themselves, you know what I mean?

Her nick name should have been Florence Nightingale (lol). Or one of those people who care for others. Let me check out the Iron Maidens now,

p.s. Did you get your nap today?
Signing off in 10.

Hi Rachele

Your mother reminds me of my maternal grandmother and my mom. They both helped anyone in need, inside the family and complete strangers.

How did we get on Maiden when this is a post about Tony? You must have travelled into the future and seen what I was going to write next! Hahaha

Be sure to listen to at least ten Iron Maiden albums before you make up your mind about their music! Lol ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Rock On! ๐Ÿค˜
Frank ๐ŸŽธ

Hi there, Frank,

I sometimes try to juggle to many things at the same time.
I decided to stay in my lane. It takes all of my 8 cylinders just to get all of my regular tasks done.

Have a womderful weekend.

You too, Rachele! ๐Ÿฅณ

Frank ๐Ÿค˜๐ŸŽธ

Tony is indeed the Grandfather of Metal in my opinion Frank!

I'm sure I saw him live at an Ozzfest one year, but of course things are a bit hazy from those times!

Great read my friend and a very happy belated birthday Tony!

Rock On!!


Thanks, Nick! ๐Ÿ™

I know you would like Tony and Sabbath. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Rock On! ๐Ÿค˜
Frank ๐ŸŽธ

Absolutely love them my friend!!




Sometime you just have to adapt, Frank. He found a way to play despite losing the tips of two fingers!

The other person that comes to my mind is Rick Allen of Def Leppard who lost his arm in a car accident and learned to play on a specially designed drum kit with just one arm and his two feet!

My classmates would bring those Circus magazines and other Rock magazines to school. I do remember reading about Black Sabbath. I never thought of them as a satanic band.

Appreciate the post! ๐Ÿค˜๐ŸŽธ
Isaiah ๐Ÿ™‚

Hi Isaiah

Yeah, if you want to do something bad enough, there's always a way!

The other fabulous player who had a terrible hand deformity was Django Reinhardt, one of the best Jazz guitarists ever! Django was actually Tony's inspiration to persevere on the guitar after his accident.

I remember the old days of the Circus magazine, and I STILL have some old vintage copies stashed away in my music room! Lol

Ahhh, the good times!

Rock On! ๐Ÿค˜
Frank ๐ŸŽธ

What an amazing story. He adapted to go on do something he loved, thanks for sharing, Frank

Hi Catherine

Yeah, he used his disability to create a brand-new sound that was totally awesome!

Thanks for reading. I know you like Opera, which is my absolute favorite! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Frank ๐ŸŽธ

Yes i wondered why his sound was different

There's no stopping the human spirit and drive to succeed, Catherine! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Frank ๐ŸŽธ

True indeed, but so many people manage to crush their indomitable spirit

Hi Frank,

Once again, you've taught me many things I didn't know! Tony recorded way more than I ever realized!

I jumped into the rock scene with Van Halen (#1) and Boston back in the mid 70's, but there were definitely many Sabbath songs that we played through the years, especially Paranoid!

I was never a huge Black Sabbath fan, but as a metal head, you've got to love everything about them, as well as respect what they did for music!

Thanks for the lesson, Frank and Happy Birthday, Tony! RIP RJ Dio. ๐Ÿค˜๐Ÿค˜๐Ÿค˜

Rock on!

Tim ๐ŸŽผ

Haha, so glad you liked it, Tim! ๐Ÿ™

I was deeply into Hendrix (and still am) when Sabbath came along and changed my world. I might have been the only high school metal head on the Dean's list. Haha!

I listened to 12 Sabbath albums on Tony's birthday, to celebrate!

I'm probably older than you, at almost 70 years old, which means I got to see a lot of the really amazing concerts of the '60s and '70s. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Van Halen and Boston were both fabulous bands, too!

Keep on Rockin'! ๐Ÿค˜
Frank ๐ŸŽธ

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