Cancer diagnosis has proven to be inspirational for Tony Iommi, Black Sabbath

Share this:

Photo by John McMurtrie

Some wondered if Tony Iommi’s recent cancer diagnosis was going to stall a planned reunion with the other original members of Black Sabbath. If anything, it’s proven inspirational.

Rallying around their ailing bandmate, Ozzy Osbourne, Bill Ward and Geezer Butler have watched in awe as Iommi ripped off two new compositions since the group returned to UK — where they returned after Iommi was diagnosed with the early stages of lymphoma.

“Today [January 19] we got the engines back up and running at Tony’s home studio,” Butler wrote on his official website “Far from being down and depressed about his lymphoma diagnosis, Tony had already written the music for two new songs, and I must say it has given us all a kick up the rump. It’s great to hear him churning out those riffs again, assuaging the Demon C. Takes more than that to stop Tony. Can’t wait for you all to hear our workings, it has been great working on this stuff.”

Black Sabbath, which hadn’t recorded an album with its original lineup since the late 1970s, is scheduled to mount a massive tour in the summer — with dates including a headline slot at the Download Festival. Rick Rubin is working as producer on the reunion project.

“I want to thank the lovely encouraging emails sent to this site giving Tony love and encouragement and great vibes,” Butler said. “It really does help, not only Tony, but us as a band- it raises up our spirits and restores our faith in this tarnished world.”

Here’s a look back at previous thoughts on Black Sabbath, and related solo projects. Click though the title for complete reviews …

BLACK SABBATH – SABOTAGE (1975): The end of Sabotage also begins the fade out of the Ozzy era of the band. Though the two records that followed both have their moments, it wasn’t until 1980 and the entrance of Dio that the band put out another truly amazing record with a sound so altered that, at times, it would be hard to identify the music as Sabbath. There’s also a very powerful argument to be made for that record as the band’s best, but I’ll save that one for another time. Sabotage isn’t likely to overtake the groundbreaking debut record or the hit-filled Paranoid as Sabbath’s best work in most people’s minds, and I understand that. But the next time you’re looking for a Sabbath fix, dig a little deeper and give it a listen, especially if you haven’t heard it in a while. It might just be a much better record than you remember. — Fred Phillips

BLACK SABBATH – THE DIO YEARS (2007): While I was aware of the Ronnie James Dio-fronted version of the band, I just never got around to checking them out. I moved on from being a metal die-hard for a while to other things, but in recent years have been slowly re-integrating a lot of older metal material. What we’ve got here is five tracks from Heaven and Hell, four from Mob Rules, three from Dehumanizer, one from Live Evil, and three brand-new songs that Dio wrote. So, finally, after all this time, the Dio-era Sabbath is finding a home in my collection. — Tom Johnson

OZZY OSBOURNE – BLIZZARD OF OZZ/ DIARY OF A MADMAN (1980/81): In my opinion, Diary of a Madman is Ozzy’s finest hour outside of Black Sabbath. While his debut had a few duds — “No Bone Movies” comes immediately to mind, and though it may seem like sacrilege to some fans, I’ve never liked “Revelation (Mother Earth),” either — Diary is a far more consistent record from beginning to end, and there’s not a single track that I skip every listen. 1980’s Blizzard of Ozz, of course, features some of Ozzy’s best-known songs, including “I Don’t Know,” “Mr. Crowley” and perhaps his most recognizable solo hit, “Crazy Train.” It also features one of my personal favorite guitar instrumentals, Randy Rhoads’ neo-classical jaunt, “Dee.” — Fred Phillips

WHOCARES, FEATURING TONY IOMMI AND IAN GILLAN – OUT OF MY MIND (2011): For all the mediocre music he shelled out under the Black Sabbath name following the departure of Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi is making amends later in life. His reunion of the Dio-era Sabbath lineup under the name Heaven and Hell a few years ago produced the best Black Sabbath record (and it was Sabbath, no matter what the cover said) since the same lineup reunited in 1992 for Dehumanizer. With WhoCares, he’s back together with Ian Gillan, who fronted Sabbath briefly after Dio left, for a great charity record to benefit the rebuilding of a music school in Armenia that was destroyed by a massive earthquake in 1988. — Fred Phillips

[amazon_enhanced asin=”B000002KFJ” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B00122PUL4″ container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B002C7481G” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B004DL5K2K” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B004Z180S4″ price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /]

Something Else!

Something Else!

The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, and, among others. Contact Something Else! at
Something Else!
Share this: