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Tony Iommi, 2017 Courage Award Recipient

Tony Iommi Bio

This year’s Courage Award recipient is Black Sabbath legend Tony Iommi. The heavy metal icon has fought a brave battle against lymphoma since 2012, recording Sabbath’s 2013 album, 13, and embarking on their triumphant final tour, along the way. Starting next year, the award will be renamed the “Iommi” in his honor. Learn more about Tony Iommi’s unparalleled career in the bio below.

Heavy metal music as we know it may not exist if it weren’t for Tony Iommi. As the lead guitarist of Black Sabbath and the master of the riff, Iommi’s “Hand of Doom” laid down the foundation for a whole new genre of music. At the age of 17, Iommi lost the tips of his middle and ring fingers on his left hand in an accident on his last day of work at a sheet metal factory. Determined to keep playing guitar, he fashioned himself custom thimbles and adjusted his guitar strings and adjusted his playing accordingly. While Iommi won’t come out and say it himself, many credit his new way of playing as giving birth to heavy metal.

Black Sabbath stormed out of the gate with a string of stellar albums, including their self-titled debut, Paranoid, Master of Reality and Vol. 4. While the band experienced a number of lineup changes over the years, the one constant who remained in every existence of the band was Iommi, providing the classic riffs that accompanied the vocals of Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie James Dio and others.

Iommi, along with the rest of Black Sabbath, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. In 2011, he and the band announced that they would reunite and release a new album and tour. Only months later, the guitarist revealed that he was battling lymphoma.

Despite having to undergo a number of treatments, Iommi soldiered on and recorded the new Black Sabbath album, 13, which was a worldwide success upon its release. He and Sabbath also embarked on several legs of touring in support of the disc, culminating with a pair of concerts in their hometown of Birmingham, England, marking an end to the legendary band’s touring career.

Whether it be his perseverance following his factory accident as a teenager or his strength and determination in his recent battle with lymphoma, Tony Iommi has embodied the word “courage” throughout his life.

Black Sabbath Performing “Paranoid”

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