Done with chemotherapy, Black Sabbath co-founding guitarist Tony Iommi says a course of radiation is next, as he continues an ongoing battle against lymphoma. “Hopefully,” the 64-year-old metal legend says, “my body will start to get back to normal soon.”
Iommi, the only member to have appeared in all of Black Sabbath’s many incarnations since its founding in 1969, got the cancer news as he prepared to reunite with original singer Ozzy Osbourne, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward for what would be the initial lineup’s first new studio album since 1978’s Never Say Die. Osbourne and Butler, who were writing and recording in Los Angeles with producer Rick Rubin, returned to the UK, where work on the project was to resume. Ward, however, stayed behind as an issue with his contract lingered.
“A big thanks to Ozzy and Geezer for coming over to England; it was a big incentive for me,” Iommi writes, on his Web site. “We managed to work most days and have some great new tracks. And, importantly thanks again (to the fans) for your kind messages. Hope to be seeing you soon.”
Black Sabbath is scheduled to headline Britain’s Download Festival in June, though a wider reunion tour had to be shelved. Nearly a month of new treatment is still required for Iommi, he says.
“I’ve had the last dose of chemotherapy,” Iommi says, “so hopefully my body will start to get back to normal soon, the steroids were the worse. I’ve now got three weeks of radiotherapy coming up which I’m told can be very tiring so we’ll see.”
Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, a network of lymph nodes connected by blood vessels that drain waste products and strain cancerous cells from the body.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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