Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi On Touring: “I Can’t Actually Do This Anymore”


Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi gave an interview to Birmingham Mail and discussed the groups newly announced farewell tour. Iommi, who has been receiving treatment for lymphoma in recent years, said bluntly of the decision to hang it up: “I can’t actually do this anymore. My body won’t take it much more.” Speaking further of his battle with cancer, he revealed that he will have tests done in two weeks to ensure that the cancer is kept in check:

“I don’t want that creeping back again. And all the travelling involved in Sabbath tours increasingly takes its toll. That’s why we’re going out on one last tour, to say our farewells. And then it very definitely is the end. We won’t be doing it again.”

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“I have finished my courses of treatment. Now it’s a case of keeping tabs on things. I have the blood tests every six weeks, and then there’s a bigger check-up every now and then to make sure that all is still well. I have my next one in a couple of weeks, and hopefully everything will be fine.”

He later added:

“We’ve been doing this for getting on for 50 years now. It’s about time we draw the line, don’t you think? It’s been great but it’s time to stop now. Don’t get me wrong, I still love gigging. It’s all the travelling and the exhaustion that goes with it that’s the problem. That side of things has a big impact on me. Yes, we may fly in luxury, stay in the very best hotels, ride in the most comfortable limos but there’s still a physical cost to touring. Even when we build in rest breaks – I have to have blood tests every six weeks – I find it tough going. You take a long haul flight, arrive somewhere at five in the morning and book into a hotel. There’s the soundcheck, the promotional work, the gig itself, then you’re back at the hotel to collapse into bed. Then next day you get to do it all over again. I love being up there onstage, playing with Sabbath. What I don’t love is all the other stuff necessary to enable that to happen. None of us are getting any younger, you know.”

Other health issues have also played a part too, as he revealed:

“Aside from my lymphoma, I’ve been back in hospital again recently because of back problems. The funny thing is, while you’re out on tour it’s a full-on thing, you’re busy all the time. It’s when you come off tour that the side-effects kick in. While you’re at home, just when you think you got away with it!”

As for whether or not estranged drummer Bill Ward will return for the farewell tour, current plans don’t have him appearing, with drummer Tomy Clufetos once again in line. Ward has been campaigning for a contract more favorable to himself as well as an apology from singer Ozzy Osbourne following a public spat. Iommi said of that:

“That depends on Bill. We met up again six weeks ago and we got on great – but it’s down to Bill. Our plans as they stand are to tour with Ozzy, Geezer Butler, myself and Ozzy’s drummer Tommy Clufetos, who did so well on the last tour. He can do things with drums that still amaze me. His solos last time out were mind-boggling.”

For more on that and the bands plans for a UK leg of the farewell tour, head to Birmingham Mail.

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