Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi Talks Chopping His Fingers Off + Pre-Sabbath Bands – MI Conversation Series (Part 1)
Right before his appearance at the 2017 Loudwire Music Awards, legendary Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi took part in a conversation at the Musician’s Institute in Hollywood, Calif. During part one of the interview, Iommi talks about his early days as a musician, cutting off his fingers in an industrial accident and his road to forming Black Sabbath.
The story of Tony Iommi’s missing fingertips has become stuff of heavy metal legend. We even cast Iommi’s right hand to create the official 2017 Loudwire Music Awards ‘Hand of Doom’ trophy. While speaking with interviewer Ryan J. Downey, Iommi recalled the accident in gruesome detail.
“I’d be on a line and they’d pass stuff down to me and I’d weld it, and then it’d go on to somewhere else,” Iommi sets up the scene. “One day, the person that would be sending me the thing to weld never turned up, so they put me on this giant, huge press — a guillotine-type press. I don’t know what happened, I must have pushed my hand in. Bang! It came down. It just took the ends off [my fingers]. I actually pulled them off. As I pulled my hang back, it sort of pulled them off. It was left with two stalks, the bone was sticking out the top of the finger.”
Iommi continues, “I went to the hospital and they cut the bones off and then they said, ‘You might as well forget playing.’ God, I was just so upset. I wouldn’t accept that there wasn’t some way around it, that I couldn’t be able to play.”
Iommi speaks about crafting his own prosthetic fingertips by melting down a soap bottle, but being unable to grip his guitar strings. After gluing various types of cloth to the plastic tips, to no avail, the future Black Sabbath legend had his eureka moment after cutting up an old leather jacket. “It worked, but then I had to persevere for a long, long time to get used to working with them… and it was painful.”
The guitarist goes on to talk about the first bands he ever performed with. “The first gig I ever had was just me with a drummer and a piano player and they were about 30 years older than me. It was in a pub and I wasn’t even old enough to be in the pub,” Iommi recalls. After reminiscing about other pre-Sabbath bands he played in, such as the Rockin’ Chevrolets and the Rest — the latter of which featured Bill Ward on drums — Iommi describes wanting to create a “bigger sound” than he had been hearing in rock music.
Check out part one of Tony Iommi’s conversation at the Musician’s Institute above and stay tuned for part two launching Dec. 26. Also, be sure to check out the Musician's Institute on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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