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Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi Discusses Lymphoma Battle + Drive to Record New Music

Black Sabbath Tony Iommi
Mary Ouellette,

While bands may have a few bumps while making new records, it’s nothing like what Black Sabbath dealt with while putting together the ’13’ album. Just as the metal legends were getting back together to work on new music, it was revealed that guitarist Tony Iommi was diagnosed with cancerous lymphoma and needed to undergo treatment.

Iommi told Guitar World, “Once I heard my doctor say that, my whole world changed. I thought, ‘Bloody cancerous lymphoma? Well that’s it. I’ve had it.'” The guitarist says once he was diagnosed, treatment began immediately. “It knocked me about. I’d go through stages thinking, ‘Can I do this?’ And then, ‘Of course I can do this, I don’t want to die. I want to carry on and do what I’m supposed to do.'”

The guitarist says that the treatment initially stalled the band’s movement toward a new album, but as his body began to respond he got his creative spark back and asked his bandmates to join him. “They thought I would pack up,” says Iommi. “But I asked the doctor, ‘Is it okay if I work?’ and he said, ‘Yes, you’ve just got to be careful.’ So I’d go in the studio and play for a bit. Then I’d get tired and I’d have to go sit down. The guys would tell me not to push it.”

Ozzy Osbourne adds, “We all rallied around him. But it’s not like we’d be saying, ‘Are you okay? Are you okay?’ We just got on with it. Sure, he looked tired, but he was a soldier and marched on. He still had more riffs coming out of him than anyone. None of us would go, ‘Oh, he’s f—ing ill again.’ We’re bros, we grew up together. It’s like a family member getting sick.”

With Iommi focused on the music and his health steadily improving, Black Sabbath finished their highly anticipated effort. ’13’ is due in stores June 11. Pre-order options are available here.

Watch a Black Sabbath '13' Album Video Teaser

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