The World of Guitar According to Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi

05/27/2013
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(Gibson) Few would dispute that heavy metal's most ominous strains can be traced to one source: Tony Iommi. Beginning with Black Sabbath's 1970 debut album, Iommi ushered in a dark, sludgy sound that through the years has impacted bands as varied as Nirvana and Metallica. Sabbath's new CD, 13, harks back to the style of such vintage classics as "Iron Man," War Pigs" and "Children of the Grave." Below, we gather some choice quotes from Iommi about his life as a pioneering guitarist.

On his early guitar influences, as told to Guitar World (2008): I liked John Mayall's Blues Breakers. I thought they were really good. Of course Eric Clapton was a part of that. I liked the work that Clapton did later with Cream, but I really liked what he was playing with John Mayall.

I listened to all kinds of blues records. I really can't remember any names of the players because I listened to a lot of different things. From that I got into bluesy jazz, and it was the same thing.

On being credited for inventing heavy metal guitar, as told to Cosmik Debris (2000): I never called our music heavy metal. It was always "heavy rock" or just "heavy." It's just pure power, really. My term, "heavy," comes more when I'm on stage. It's hard to come across on record with a real power, you know? Not so much these days, but it was years ago. It was hard to get that power out. Sabbath was always a very live band.

On not switching to right-handed playing after losing the tips of two fingers, as told to Guitar World (2008): If I knew what I know now I probably would have switched. At the time I had already been playing two or three years, and it seemed like I had been playing a long time. I thought I'd never be able to change the way I played.

The reality of the situation was that I hadn't been playing very long at all, and I probably could have spent the same amount of time learning to play right handed. I did have a go at it, but I just didn't have the patience. It seemed impossible to me. I decided to make do with what I had, and I made some plastic fingertips for myself. I just persevered with it. More!

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