Tony Iommi Losing His Fingertips Before Becoming the Godfather of Heavy Metal

Tony Iommi Losing His Fingertips Before Becoming the Godfather of Heavy Metal
Tony Iommi Losing His Fingertips Before Becoming the Godfather of Heavy Metal

Every band has a unique story, often shaped by the extraordinary talents of its members or the group's remarkable achievements in particular domains. Today, we delve into the remarkable tale of Tony Iommi, the iconic guitarist of the legendary band Black Sabbath.

This famous guitarist, composer and member of the band Black Sabbath showed us that with passion and desire he was able to overcome what everyone considered impossible. Photo Credit: Unknown

Anthony Frank Iommi

Anthony Frank Iommi, better known as Tony Iommi, is an English guitarist, composer, and producer. His early years were marked by a deep interest in martial arts and various sports.

His family heritage also instilled a genuine love for music, with the accordion being among his first musical instruments. While experimenting with music, he discovered a passion for drums, but the noise they generated led him to explore the guitar instead.

Despite having various jobs, including one in a metallurgical company, his true aspiration was always to become a musician. When he saw an ad for a guitarist needed in a band, he wasted no time in applying and landing the gig. However, his job commitments clashed with his musical ambitions, a situation his mother advised him to resolve.

Little did Tony know that a fateful twist of fate and a tragic event would soon test his determination, eventually leading him to hold his mother accountable for the events that unfolded that day.

Although we know him as a phenomenal guitarist, Iommi worked for a metal factory, where he had an accident that would have made anyone retire from an instrumental career. Photo Credit: Unknown

Black Sabbath and Tony Iommi

In the year 1968, a group of talented young individuals converged to create a band that would redefine the future of heavy metal. Among these budding musicians was the genius Tony Iommi, who assumed the role of the band's guitarist.

Tony would go on to become a legendary figure, leaving an indelible mark on the annals of music history—all this despite facing a unique challenge: his partially amputated fingertips. The King of Darkness crafted a distinct style that would forever be associated with his name.

The accident that cut off his fingertips

Before his iconic journey with the legendary Black Sabbath, which would solidify their status as pioneers of heavy metal and Tony as a guitar wizard, he led a very different life—one that would dramatically alter the course of his future.

This future godfather of heavy metal and the cofounder of Black Sabbath once toiled in a metal factory, a place where his life took an unexpected turn due to a fateful accident. It was in this metallurgical setting that Tony witnessed his hands and fingers complete for the last time.

In an interview, the artist recounted the incident. He explained that he was working in the metal shop, performing routine tasks until the end of his shift. However, on that fateful day, fate took an unexpected turn. The person scheduled for the next shift failed to show up, thrusting Tony into a role he had never before undertaken. Notably, he had no prior experience in that workstation.

"Django Reinhart gave me the courage to continue with my musical career" were the words of Tony Iommi after suffering depression due to his work accident where he was on the verge of resigning. Photo Credit: Unknown

During this shift, he was assigned to operate an industrial press, a massive machine resembling a large guillotine. Tony's memory becomes somewhat hazy at this point, and he can't be certain how his hand ended up in harm's way.

The machine suddenly ensnared his hand, and in an instant, it severed the tips of a couple of his fingers. As the realization of the horrifying situation dawned upon him, he desperately tried to free his entire hand, but the relentless machine continued its merciless course, slicing through not just the tips but also the bones beneath, causing further extensive damage.

Rushed to the hospital for immediate treatment, Tony's injuries were a severe sight. The doctors had to surgically remove the jaggedly cut and fully exposed bones. In a rather unfortunate attempt at humor, one of the physicians quipped, suggesting that he should forget about ever playing the guitar again. This remark, however, infuriated Tony, who had nurtured a deep passion for the instrument over the years.

Django Reinhart was the one who gave Iommi the courage to pursue his career. This great guitarist also had a disability in his fingers but he was still able to reach the top. Photo Credit: Unknown

But it was his frustration that turned him into the Godfather of Heavy Metal

At that moment, the young Tony couldn't fathom a future without his beloved guitar, nor could he imagine being unable to showcase his talents with the band that had recognized his potential. His distress was so profound that when the factory foreman paid him a visit bearing a gift - a record - Tony was initially reluctant even to listen to it.

However, this visit would bring Tony the inspiration he needed to become the legend he is today. The foreman pointed out that the guitarist on the Django Reinhardt record had just two fingers, yet he could still play the guitar masterfully.

This simple observation ignited a spark within Tony. He resolved to persist in doing what he loved, and even though the loss of his fingertips presented an obvious obstacle, he was determined to find a way to overcome it.

Thanks to his passion for the guitar, Iommi decided to practice from scratch, adjusting to his new problem, but this disability would have little negative effect on his music, making him one of the most talented guitarists in the world today. Photo Credit: Unknown

Finger prosthesis

Iommi embarked on a quest to find practical solutions that would bring him back to his guitar. One of his initial ideas was to attempt playing the guitar in reverse, as he was left-handed and thought he might manage with his other hand. However, this idea proved unworkable, and he swiftly discarded it.

Surprisingly, his days at the factory had equipped him with an unexpected skill that would prove invaluable in the future. He began by melting a bottle and, using a blowtorch, started shaping it to resemble his missing fingers, or what remained of them. Unfortunately, this first attempt at crafting a prosthesis fell short of meeting the musician's needs.

But Tony was undeterred. He persisted, making several more plastic tips, which, like the first, proved ineffective when they came into contact with the guitar strings. It was then that he had an unexpected breakthrough - he decided to cut up an old leather jacket. When he tried this new material, the prosthesis finally proved successful. Yet, he still faced the monumental task of completely reinventing his playing style.

Today the guitarist has prosthesis in the tip of his fingers. However, in the beginning, he himself with the help of his mother was able to devise different types of "prosthesis" testing different materials and how they fit the sound of the guitar. Photo Credit: Unknown

Heavy metal was born thanks to Iommi's prosthesis

Heavy metal owes its birth, in part, to Iommi's innovative approach to playing. Recognizing that the challenge was only half met with his prosthesis, he embarked on a journey to adapt his entire musical environment to play successfully. As he experimented with various elements, he discovered a distinct style emerging—dark, thick, and sweeping.

This is where the legend began, and Tony Iommi solidified his status as one of the ultimate guitar icons. Remarkably, it was that fateful accident that infused the essence of Black Sabbath, sparking a complete revolution in the world of rock music.

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