Anthony Frank "Tony" Iommi is an English guitarist, songwriter and producer. Best known as lead guitarist and founding member of the pioneering heavy metal band Black Sabbath, he has been the band's sole continual member and primary composer.
Born in Birmingham, England, Iommi worked at a factory as a teenager where he lost the tips of two of his fingers in an accident. Iommi briefly left Black Sabbath (then known as Earth) in 1968 to join Jethro Tull, after which he returned to Black Sabbath.
Iommi had played in several blues/rock bands, the earliest of which was the Rockin' Chevrolets from 1964 to 1965. The band had regular bookings and when they were offered work in Germany, Iommi decided to leave his factory job to take up the opportunity. From 1966 to 1967 Iommi played in a band named The Rest. It was in The Rest that Iommi first met future-Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward, who performed drums and vocals in the band.
From January 1968 until July 1968 Iommi was guitarist in Mythology, with Ward joining a month later in mid-February. In May 1968 police raided the group's practice flat and found cannabis resin, which resulted in fines for the band members. Most significantly, the incident made it quite difficult for the band to secure future bookings as most club owners avoided bands they viewed as drug users. Mythology subsequently split up after a gig in Silloth on 13 July 1968.
In August 1968 at the same time as the break-up of Mythology, another Birmingham band called Rare Breed also broke up. Rare Breed vocalist John "Ozzy" Osbourne joined with Iommi and Ward. Requiring a bassist, Osbourne mentioned his former Rare Breed bandmate Geezer Butler, who was subsequently hired along with slide guitarist Jimmy Phillips and saxophonist Alan "Aker" Clarke. The six-piece band were named the Polka Tulk Blues Band. After just two gigs (the last of which was at the Banklands Youth Club in Workington), Phillips and Clarke were dismissed from the band, which soon after shortened its name to Polka Tulk.
Iommi, Butler, Ward and Osbourne renamed the band Earth in September 1968. They carried on under this moniker until December 1968 when Iommi briefly departed to join Jethro Tull. However after only one performance (an appearance on "The Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus" in which the band mimed "A Song for Jeffrey", which Ian Anderson sang live), Iommi was back with Earth once more.
In 2000, Iommi released his first proper solo album, titled Iommi. The album featured several guest vocalists including Ian Astbury, Skin, Henry Rollins, Serj Tankian, Dave Grohl, Billy Corgan, Phil Anselmo, Peter Steele and Ozzy Osbourne. In late 2004 Iommi's second solo album was released, entitled "The 1996 DEP Sessions". This album was originally recorded in 1996 but was never officially released. However, a copy with a drum track by Dave Holland was available as a bootleg called "Eighth star". Glenn Hughes performed vocals on the album and he furthered his collaboration with Hughes with the release of his third solo album, "Fused". Released on 12 July 2005, John Mellencamp drummer Kenny Aronoff completed the trio on the album.
Since 1989 Tony Iommi was involved in the Rock Aid Armenia project. In October 2009 Iommi and his colleague Ian Gillan were awarded the Orders of Honor – Armenia's highest order, which were delivered to them by the Prime Minister of Armenia for their help after the Spitak earthquake.
In October 2006 it was reported that Iommi would tour with Ronnie James Dio, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward again, but under the moniker Heaven & Hell. Later it was announced that Ward had decided not to participate and Vinny Appice was hired as his replacement. Rhino Records released "The Dio Years" (under the Black Sabbath moniker) album on 3 April 2007. The album showcased older tracks with Dio and also included three brand new songs recorded with Dio and Appice.
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