BLACK SABBATH's TONY IOMMI Mourns Passing Of Legendary Guitar Luthier JOHN DIGGINS

January 4, 2024

BLACK SABBATH's Tony Iommi is mourning the death of John Diggins, a U.K. guitar luthier known for his shop Jaydee. Diggins "died suddenly but peacefully in hospital" on January 2, according to a statement on the shop's official Instagram page.

On Wednesday (January 3),Iommi took to his social media to share a photo of him with Diggins, and he included the following message: "What a terrible shock to hear from JDs wife last night that my old pal John Diggins had passed away! He was a very dear friend to me and we'd known each other since the 70s. He's built many guitars for me over the years and he was a superb craftsman who loved what he did. He will be sadly missed but not forgotten. My deepest condolences go out to his wife and family. R.I.P John."

Diggins began his career in the guitar-making business working for John Birch. John went on his own in 1977 and Jaydee Custom Guitars was formed, primarily as a customizing and repair service. The name Jaydee came after working with other guys called John, and in order to get the attention of the right person without everyone turning around when called, initials were used, hence JD.

Jaydee released the following statement regarding Diggins's passing: "It is with deep regret that we have to let you know of the sad passing away of Jay Dee (John Diggins). He died suddenly but peacefully in hospital on the morning of Tuesday 2nd January, following complications in battling a long-term illness. He will be dearly missed by all who knew him, especially his wife Helen, sons Michael and Andrew, and grandsons Jake and Toby."

A few years ago, Diggins told Home Of Metal about working with Iommi: "I was first introduced to Tony back in 1970 when working with John Birch, who was a pioneer of custom made pick-ups making them in such a way that they were mechanically noiseless. In those days, Tony used a beautiful Gibson cherry red SG special that had been fitted with some of John's early pick-ups in the stainless steel covers. It was this guitar that I used as the blueprint for the contours on our own SG.

"In the following years, Tony and I became good friends as I was able to solve some of the niggling intonation problems that he had suffered for many years. He also had some of the early prototype John Birch guitars, such as a 24-fret Les Paul shape and the first 24-fret black SG with crucifix inlays
and stainless steel scratchplate, which he used up until about 1980.

"I couldn't make the guitar in John Birches time so I made it at home. It was made on the kitchen table and was completed in about two weeks. The lacquer was still soft when it was taken to the U.S., and it was this factor combined with severe changes in temperature and humidity that caused the paint to crack and flake off, giving the 'Old Boy' the well-worn look that it has today. The guitar was not given a proper unveiling until I had produced the pick-ups that could deliver the sound that Tony was happy with. The Jaydee 'Old Boy' SG has become one of Tony's favorites and it is still used today."

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