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Tony Iommi Shares Guitar Tone Formula on ‘That Metal Show’

Tony Iommi
Paul Kane, Getty Images

Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi was the guest on the season premiere of VH1 Classic’s ‘That Metal Show’ Saturday night (Aug. 20). While Iommi caused a stir last week with his comments about the status of Sabbath, he was quite adept at leaving his words about the legendary band open-ended this time around.

Of course, this interview was taped months ago, so it’s not like the riff master was doing damage control or trying to avoid a repeat of the debacle where the Birmingham Mail quoted him as confirming the long-awaited Sabbath reunion, only to see the guitarist angrily label such talk “speculative.”

On the show, Iommi acknowledged that his relationship with Ozzy Osbourne is “great,” and didn’t stomp out the possibility of the band reforming and giving it another go. “If we manage to live long enough, we might do it,” the guitarist joked. So, there is certainly hope!

Iommi also elaborated about his relationship with fellow riffologist Eddie Van Halen, referring to EVH as “a good friend of mine.” Iommi revealed that they both had similar hand injuries and that Van Halen recommended a specialist in Europe. “This guy in Germany does [something] like stem cell,” Iommi revealed. “You’ve got to stay in a hotel for a week in Dusseldorf, go to the doctor, get an injection for five minutes, but then it’s like, ‘What do I do for the rest of the day?’ You come back next day for more. But it worked.”

The riffsmith said that his hand is not 100 percent healed, but after years of abuse from playing, it’s improved. “It was agony before,” he admitted.

Iommi’s hands have certainly been through the ringer, and not just because he has been playing for decades. He famously sheared off the tips of the middle and ring fingers on right hand on his last day of work in a sheet metal factory in his teens, which obviously didn’t deter him from his destiny to become one of the biggest guitar deities of all time. “I scrapped what I learned and started again,” he recalled about adjusting to his “handicap.”

Def Leppard‘s Phil Collen served as the guest guitarist for the episode, and he posed a question to Iommi, as one riff specialist to another. Collen wanted to know how Iommi achieved his signature sound on the first Sabbath record, to which Iommi replied, “Plug it in and turn it up.” So much for trade secrets!

Some other nuggets of info that Iommi revealed: 1978′s ‘Never Say Die’ is his least favorite Sabbath album of the Ozzy era, because it’s “difficult to relate to,” while he considered himself and Bill Ward the biggest “partiers” in the band during its heyday… behind Ozzy, of course!

Watch a Clip of Tony Iommi From VH1 Classic ‘That Metal Show’

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