BLACK SABBATH's TONY IOMMI: 'Playing And Writing Riffs Has To Come From Within'

October 22, 2015

BLACK SABBATH guitarist Tony Iommi received the Gibson Les Paul Award at the 2015 Q Awards, which took place Monday night (October 19) in London, England.

Iommi, who has played a Gibson guitar for the duration of his career, was honored for his outstanding contribution to music, pop culture and as part of the 100th-anniversary celebrations of the birth of Les Paul guitars.

Asked by Danielle of Absolute Radio if he could imagine playing any other instrument, Iommi said (see video below): "As a matter of fact, I did play another instrument before. I used to play an accordion — only because all my family had bloody accordions and drums and stuff. My father used to play an accordion and my uncles and cousins and all that, so I had one, of course. I wanted to have a guitar, but… Well, I wanted to play drums, but they wouldn't let me have any drums. As you can imagine, we were in a tiny little house, so a set of drums wouldn't have gone down very well. But, yeah, I took to the guitar. I loved the idea of playing guitar. And I played it a few years before I had my accident [resulting in Iommi losing the tips of the middle and ring finger of his right, fretting hand], which then changed everything for me. But I stuck with it and made it work for me."

Iommi also talked about the importance of writing music that comes from the heart as opposed to following a formula or constantly chasing commercial success. He said: "For me, playing and writing riffs and stuff has to come from within. I can't just sort of do something what I think people wanna hear. I have to feel it and do it how I feel. Same with solos — I have to play 'em from the heart as opposed to… I can't play a solo that's written down… note for note. I just can't do that. I have to play it how I feel it that day."

Iommi said in a recent interview that BLACK SABBATH's upcoming farewell tour, which will begin in January 2016, is truly its last because he is not physically capable of doing it any longer. Speaking with the Birmingham Mail, Iommi explained, "I can't actually do this anymore. My body won't take it much more."

Iommi, who was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2012 and was treated all through SABBATH's extensive 2013 world tour, admitted that he was worried the rigors of the road could bring the disease back. He revealed: "I don't want that creeping back again, and all the traveling involved in SABBATH tours increasingly takes its toll. That's why we're going out on one last tour, to say our farewells. And then it very definitely is the end. We won't be doing it again."

The legendary guitarist continued: "Don't get me wrong, I still love gigging. It's all the traveling and the exhaustion that goes with it that's the problem. That side of things has a big impact on me… I love being up there onstage, playing with SABBATH. What I don't love is all the other stuff necessary to enable that to happen."

Iommi was also hospitalized recently with back problems, and he still requires blood tests every six weeks to monitor his lymphoma.

The tour kicks off on January 20 in Omaha and will encompass about a year, including breaks.

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