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A Look Back On Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi On His 67th Birthday


. (Gibson) Any short-list of the greatest riff-makers of all-time would be incomplete without Tony Iommi's name inscribed in bold letters. 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. To commemorate his birthday-Iommi turns 67 on Feb. 19-we've gathered a number of choice quotes. Simply put, the man is a legend.

On giving birth to heavy metal, as told to Guitar Player: "I think it was the dramatics of it all. I used to listen to the old classical stuff with the dynamics in the music, and I wanted that sort of dynamics in what we were doing-something that was really dramatic and big. And that's what I tried to achieve guitar-wise. I wanted to make this big, powerful thing come over you-like what happens when you go and see a horror film. I wanted to create a huge sound that was really horrific in some ways."

On when he knew Black Sabbath had "made it," as told to Rock Cellar: "It was great when we started having hit albums and stuff, but I guess the first time we thought we had broken through on some level was with our first album. With that album we realized we had something different to offer, and then the next Sabbath album came out, which was Paranoid, and that went to number one, certainly in most of the world except for in America. (laughs) Then we sort of felt like we were doing something and achieving success and knew we were on our way."

On considering switching to playing right-handed, after the accident where he sliced off the tips of two fingers, as told to Guitar World: "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."

On coming up with great riffs, as told to Rock Cellar: "What I generally do is go into my studio for an hour or I might go in for ten minutes and just start playing some riffs and put them down. So I might do that for a few days and then I'll start listening to them with a more critical earů. What makes a great riff, for me, is tension, drama and dynamics, but also you'll get some up-tempo stuff where you've got to create a different dynamic. With the heavier, slower stuff, it's pretty easy for me to put in the dynamics. But sometimes the up-tempo stuff is a little bit more challenging."

On his signature tone, as told to Guitar International: "I took a long time working on it. Years and years. I've never been totally satisfied with it. I always keep trying. Even now, on stage some nights it doesn't sound quite right. It's the building or the stage or whatever. But ninety-percent of the time I'm happy with it."

On first hearing Ozzy's debut solo album, Blizzard of Ozz, recorded with Randy Rhoads, as told to Guitar World: "It was quite good. I loved Randy's playing. I didn't rush out right away to buy Ozzy's album because I was into what we were doing at the time. But I was pleased for Ozzy. It was the spark that got him going, and it was exactly what he needed." Read more here.

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