Fifteenth installment in a series exploring very important people in my life.
Let me start explaining how this will work: I listed 65 idols of mine. Every Friday (with the exception of those reserved for the Rock Chain posts) I’ll draw one of the names (following a system that it’s really not important to be explained here) and talk about it.
Therefore, the order in which the names will appear doesn’t necessarily shows where they rank in my preference.
As a final introductory note, this is also not a biography article. I’ll just write how I feel about people represented in it, their talent and their importance in my life.
How many people can claim that they invented something new out of the blue? Not many, I can assure you. And among those few lies Mr. Tony Iommi: quite simply, the inventor of Heavy Metal.
Anthony Frank Iommi was born in Birmingham (UK), 19 February 1948. And he went on from factory worker to inventor of the most enduring style of music ever.
Tony was hugely influenced by the blues, The Shadows and by Jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and when he coupled those influences with his loosing of the tips of the middle and right finger of his right hand and a lot of volume, the first Heavy Metal guitar sound was created.
Alongside his buddies Ozzy Osbourne, Gezzer Butler and Bill Ward he formed Black Sabbath and revolutionized what was known as Rock And Roll in the late sixties and early seventies.
Actually, today is impossible to measure the impact that first Sabbath album had in 1969. I often find myself trying to imagine how it was on those last days of the flower-power generation listening to a record that started with bells, rain sounds and THAT guitar chord. All of that, with probably what is even today the spookiest record cover of all time.
However, not only he invented a style, he created this style the greatest riffs EVER! I remember when I used to work for a Heavy Metal magazine and we were asked to choose our 20 favorite guitar riffs of all time. I e-mailed my editor and said: “Okay, I’ll choose from 20 different bands just to make it cooler, but the real list would have only Sabbath riffs!”
“Falling Off The Edge Of The World”, “Iron Man”, “Paranoid”, “Children Of The Grave”, “Fairies Wear Boots”, “Supernaut”, “Tomorrow’s Dream”, “Snowblind”, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”, “Symptom Of The Universe”, “Sweet Leaf”, “After Forever”, “Heaven & Hell”, “Neon Knights”, “Children Of The Sea”, “Die Young”, “Mob Rules”, “Thrashed”, “Disturbing The Priest” and “Zero The Hero”. Okay, here are twenty, but if you dig a little deeper you’ll find at least some forty more.
I remember when some friends of mine who were guitar players tried to argue that Steve Vai had riffs much more complex than Tony Iommi. So fuckin’ what? A good riff is the one you can hum it and you can hum all Tony Iommi riffs. Besides, they may be simple to play, but they are the hardest to create.
As a final note, unfortunately I never met Tony, but by the information I gathered he is one of the most polite and pleasant people you’ll ever meet.
Your name is Tony Iommi, please take my hand and welcome to the Hall Of Idols.
Be sure to check out my book “Straight And Lethal”.
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