Once again, Tony's guitar strings raise funds for charity!
Tony ‘s guitar technician Mike Clement and Global Black Sabbath Convention fan community’s leaders Ben Fahl and Steve Ghelfi, together organized an unique exclusive auction of Tony’s strings, taken of three of his guitars, used during the last ever Black Sabbath concert in Birmingham 4 February 2017.
The auction took place on the pages of Facebook community Global Black Sabbath Convention in March 2017, and finished 19 March, selling three sets of strings, certification signed by Tony himself, lists of played songs by each set, and the collection of his guitar plectrums, raising in total 10.000$, split between MacMillan Cancer Support UK and Spire Parkway Hospital’s cancer unit, as decided by Iommi and Clement.
20 March 2017
On this day, Sunday 19 February 2017, one of the greatest guitarists ever, the father-creator of metal, the master of riffage, the one and only Iron Man, Tony Iommi, turns 69!
It is a very special day for every Iommifan, we celebrate this date as our international HolyIommiDay!
Black Sabbath celebrated it's "The End" last tour dates with majestic performances on Genting Arena in Birmingham. But for Tony it's not the end at all - it is the very beginning! We wish Tony a very successful and satisfying solo career and great new projects, strong IRON health, happiness and much love!
❤ HAPPY JOYFUL BIRTHDAY, DEAR TONY! ❤
When you’ve been gigging as a band for almost 50 years it’s hard to imagine how you could go out on a high note. Especially when you’ve had to tune your guitars down to accommodate the vocal ability of a 68-year-old frontman. But Black Sabbath put on the show of a lifetime at the Genting Arena, starting back at the very beginning in order to conclude the mother of all road trips in epic fashion.
Forget Woodstock. This was Metalstock... complete with real fires, steel girders and not just one Iron Man but three.
As their 81-date farewell reached the end of The End, they were, to coin a phrase, Sabsolutely Sabulous, darling. Remember Frank Sinatra’s prophetic words: ‘And now, The End is near, and so I face the final curtain’? Sabbath didn’t just face their own final curtain – the heavy metal pioneers stood behind in the darkness and then blew it away.
Just as they have always done, ever since first manager Jim Simpson gave them a gig at one of his Henry’s Blues House nights at The Crown pub on Station Street in 1968. Within two years they had completely revAMPed their style, changing the world of rock and roll for ever. Thanks to some of the best special effects most of us have ever seen, Sabbath’s logo was ablaze on the curtain before it fell to the stage and was then whisked up to the rafters like two ghostly-white plumes. The End was about to begin. The chimed intro to Black Sabbath, the title track to their debut eponymous album released on February 13, 1970, then filled the arena with a sound so foreboding it seemed to make the floor shake.
Thereafter, the crystal-clear giant screen behind the band was frequently set ablaze, too. And often at the point when guitarist Tony Iommi was playing another mind blowing solo. A metaphor, perhaps, for how Black Sabbath invented heavy metal in a land of foundries, crucibles, lathes, grinders, toolsetters and, of course, guitar machine heads. Meanwhile, real flames were pumped out of the stage at regular intervals, too. Some even burned right behind the amazing drummer Tommy Clufetos who must have felt he was in danger of being roasted alive for daring to replace the absent fourth original member, Bill Ward.
Singer Ozzy Osbourne kept cool by splashing his face from a bucket of water in front of the drum riser, while bass player Geezer Butler to the left of the stage from the audience’s point of view, somehow kept his coat on to match Iommi. Butler introduced his new AVFC liveried Lakland bass guitar for the show’s climax, while Tony Iommi kept the faith with his trademark cross shining over the top of a black T-shirt sporting the words: ‘Birmingham est 1968’.
For almost two hours, Sabbath burned brightly like a comet in the night sky.
You knew the time would pass by in a flash. But what a flash!
The clever use of spotlights all the way around the arena gave the night an immense 3D feel. That was especially true during the intro for War Pigs and when giant black and purple balloons were released from the roof during the epic Children of the Grave and skulls appeared on the screen. After pausing for the shortest of breaks, Tony Iommi launched into the intro to the title track of their first No 1 album back in 1970, Paranoid. One shirtless fan crowd surfed backwards towards the middle of the arena, falling head first into the arms of security officials. Six minutes later Sabbath's legends were gone, but never to be forgotten.
Not after such a gloriously industrial, epic night in Birmingham, the city of a 1,000 riffs. Currently ranked 27th in the list of ‘Top 100 Arenas Worldwide’ by Pollstar, the Genting Arena first opened in 1980 as the NEC Arena. Boasting a flexible arena bowl, the venue’s capacity can change from 5,684 people attending ‘intimate academy events’ or hold a total capacity of 15,685. Guy Dunstan, general manager of the NEC Group Arenas, said:
"Black Sabbath's The End was a monumental evening that will go down in history. I am very thankful that the Genting Arena has had the opportunity to be a part of it. For Black Sabbath to perform their final show back in the city where it all began, is a very apt end to what has been an outstanding career for the band.”
Because the floor area was converted for standing, the sold-out capacity for each concert at The End was 14,500, meaning the last two shows on February 2 and 4 were watched by 29,000 people.
Graham Young for Birmingham Mail, 8 February 2017
Tony Iommi has once again said that he wouldn't rule out Black Sabbath recording new material or playing a one-off event. The band finished its year-long "The End" farewell tour on Saturday night (February 4) in the band's hometown of Birmingham, England, closing out the quartet's groundbreaking 49-year career with an emotional 15-song set. The band decided to make this tour its last because Iommi, who was diagnosed with cancer in late 2011 and is currently in remission, can no longer travel for extended amounts of time. Speaking to the U.K. radio station Planet Rock, Iommi said:
"I'm going to miss playing on stage because that has been my whole life, the band and playing on stage. I like [playing on stage] and I'm sure it's not going to end like that; I'm sure we might do a one-off show somewhere. It's just the touring for me — it's time to stop roaming the world and be at home for a bit... I'm still going to write and put stuff out."
Asked if Sabbath's recording days are truly over, Tony said:
"No, I don't think we've ruled anything out apart from me not wanting to tour any more on that scale, but who knows, we may do something. We haven't spoken about it. That's another thing — we haven't talked about anything, really, that's to do with what's going to happen afterwards. But I'm sure something can happen somewhere."
Tony added that he is looking forward to the new chapters ahead in his life:
"It's nice just to take some time off and really think about it, I've been offered quite a lot of stuff at the moment. It's quite exciting. There are lots of different things coming in, things I would never have thought, to be honest. It's all there and needs some thought. I don't want to rush into anything. Thing is, when you're touring, you've got to go out for six, eight, twelve months or whatever and you've got a schedule that you have to do. Now… if I want to do some TV for a month, I can do that."
Tony Iommi and Terry Butler haven't announced any specific post-Sabbath plans yet, but Osbourne is reportedly at work on a new album, and already has a pair of solo shows scheduled for this summer.
Blabbermouth.net, 8 February 2017
Birmingham supergroup Black Sabbath played their last ever tour gigs. Heavy metal legends burn the house down on an unforgettable nights.
With the Genting Arena stage, quite literally, in flames, the inventors of heavy metal called it a day in the city where it all began. Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler and babe in arms Tommy Clufetos – he’s only 37 – have finally reached ‘The End’.
The founder members all qualify for bus passes these days, but there’s a fire that still burns within. And when they hit that machine-tooled groove in the likes of Into The Void and Children Of The Grave, the years fall away.
On Thursday night, the first of the two homecoming shows, Sabbath settled for the set list they have taken around the world. No surprises, just polished performances of back catalogue classics bookended by Black Sabbath and Paranoid. The capacity crowd, some of them made-up to look like guitar hero Iommi, lapped up every lick, rocked every riff. And the special effects store must have empty shelves today, because Sabbath packed every SFX staple into the two hours.
Flame throwers? Check. Fireworks? Check. Confetti cannons? Check. Smoke machines. Check. The mother of all high-definition screens, spanning the entire stage, served up imaginative visuals. And did I mention the hundreds of black and purple balloons that fell from the rafters?
Highlights inevitably included Children Of The Grave, War Pigs and Butler bass-driven N.I.B. And Dirty Women boasted a searing Iommi solo worth the price of admission alone. Clufetos flailed about his kit like a refugee from Spinal Tap, but stepped up for an inventive solo. Meanwhile, out of sight, Adam Wakeman – son of Rick – provided keyboards from side stage. And Ozzy, dear Ozzy, sounded better than he has for many a year. He doesn’t hit all the notes, but then he never did.
“We have one more gig here,” he said, punching his heart: the one mention of tonight’s final showdown. But someone please help him with the bionic ear hearing aid he paid megabucks for in LA. “I can’t hear you!” got a tad repetitious after the first dozen exhortations. Thanks for the memories, guys.
They gave the world heavy metal and, in The End, the world came to Birmingham to thank them for it. As Black Sabbath played out the final concert of their last tour, fans travelled from far and wide to enjoy a unique, unforgettable night. The die hards arrived from Uruguay, Poland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, and cities like LA, NY and Vegas to name but a few.
The atmosphere before the show was electric, with a buzz all the way around the Genting Arena as Sabbath prepared for the final curtain of a career which began in The Crown pub on Station Street almost 50 years ago in 1968. Throughout the night, on stage and on the brilliant screen behind, the whole production appeared to engulf the band – and the stadium – in flames. One by one, the band ripped through their classic anthems – detailed in our review from Thursday night’s first NEC show.
From Black Sabbath to War Pigs, Iron Man, Children of The Grave and the solitary encore, Paranoid, the riffs that has spawned countless various of heavy metal around the globe played out one last time. In the middle of it all, a breathtaking drum solo from Tommy Clufetos, the only non-original member of the band which began with Bill Ward on drums. The mixture of visual effects and pyrotechnics was genius, and befitting the final countdown. Ozzy limited his swearing and thanked the fans several times for coming. There was no grandiose speech, just a desire to have fun and ask if the fans were enjoying it, too.
The band then stood at the front of the stage, faced away from the fans and had their pictures taken one more time. Then they faced the fans one more time before exiting stage left, waving as they said goodbye. It was an extraordinary night, when the boys from Aston made it look like they’d an NEC stage into a foundry. Ozzy disappeared quickly, but Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi both enjoyed a relaxed hour at the backstage party – looking as remarkably fresh as spring daisies. Guests included friends like Jasper Carrott, Nick Owen, Gary Newbon and drummers Carl Palmer (ELP) and ex-Sabbath member Bev Bevan as well as many family members and friends.
Bye Bye Black Sabbath! \m/ \m/
It is The End, but not the end, so we still have hope... As someone said... "with this band there are only two constant things: Iommi and change".
Never Say Die!
Graham Young for Birmingham Mail, 5 February 2017
The European leg of the The End tour has so far been in Cologne, Dublin, Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds and, most recently, London. The boys are coming to Birmingham for the last two dates on their farewell tour. Here's what the reviewers have been saying about the recent dates:
"There are no grand goodbyes or misty-eyed nostalgia, just three legendary metal musicians, with Tommy Clufetos replacing the original drummer, Bill Ward, playing a blitzkrieg of hard rock for 100 minutes. After a year on the road, Osbourne's occasionally erratic voice is remarkably pure and strong. The frontman may need a teleprompter for his lyrics these days and is mostly rigid at the microphone, but he is in imperious form. At one point, he begins hooting like an owl, prompting the audience to follow suit. The rarely played Hand of Doom – about heroin-addicted soldiers in Vietnam – is a thrilling highlight: when the camera zooms in on Osborne’s aged features, he looks positively demonic. A strange, uncanny atmosphere descends as The End reaches the end, but Children of the Grave becomes a giant wake and signature anthem Paranoid triggers joyous headbanging in the aisles. It’s been a bumpy ride for 49 years, but when the final curtain falls in their hometown of Birmingham next month, Sabbath can walk away with their ears ringing and their legacy intact."
"This tour is proving a surprisingly unsentimental end to Black Sabbath, here on their last visit to the big smoke. There were no big speeches, no teary waves from the stage, just two hours of loud, heavy, interlocked guitar and bass riffs, thunderous drum rolls and tuneless roaring. Sabbath stumbled on the prototype for heavy metal back at the end of the Sixties, honed it to perfection in the Seventies, and are riding it all the way to the finish line with the imperious skills of veteran road warriors. This set was all business, Sabbath’s big-hitter tracks delivered with fierce, focused intent. In his prime, Osbourne was an uncontrollable clown who brought manic and unpredictable thrills to Sabbath’s dark, masculine force, but old age and infirmity have restricted his scope for nonsense. Yet, crucially, his performance was far more controlled, his singing vastly improved since their Reunion tour in 2013. Sabbath have been on the road, saying their long goodbyes, for a year and a half now, and, if nothing else, it seems to have done Osbourne’s voice a world of good. He roared the songs like they mattered – the crowd did the rest."
"While last night’s show at the O2 was hardly an argument for these sexagenarians extending their careers further, it was a glorious way to say goodbye. Snowblind was dedicated to the band’s former keyboardist, Geoff Nicholls, who died of lung cancer at the weekend, but the prevailing mood was one of celebration rather than sadness. Even Ozzy’s singing voice — slightly slurred, rarely in tune — proved a surprisingly good complement to Iommi’s mighty guitar riffs. So farewell, Black Sabbath. You have rocked, you have shocked and, importantly, you have stopped — just at the right time."
"When Osbourne comes in, his always quavery voice is in robust form. Osbourne has his latterday shtick – rocking at the mic – but he can still convey deep existential dismay. It’s a talent somehow undimmed by years of shuffling around in tracksuit bottoms and failing to parent properly on reality TV. You come away thinking this tour is a hymn to the hands of its musical makers, rather than the antics of Osbourne. This farewell has an above-average air of finality about it. For this final hurrah, could we have done with fewer deep cuts and a few more hits? Yes. Could Clufetos have shortened his drum solos? Most definitely. Words from Ozzy other than “I can’t hear you!” might have been apposite too, given the momentousness of the occasion."
You can hear an instrumental version of Megalomania played at 31 January 2017 on 02 London:
Here are Children of the Grave and Paranoid, on Genting Arena Birmingham, 2 February 2017 (first night):
David Bentley for Birmingham Mail, 3 January 2017
The funeral of former Black Sabbath keyboardist Geoff Nicholls will be held at Yardley Cemetery And Crematorium in Birmingham, England on Monday, February 20 at 1:45 p.m. The wake afterwards will be held at Yardley Ex Service Mens' Club, which is situated close by to where the service is to be held.
Nicholls died on January 28 after a long battle with lung cancer. He was 68 years old
Geoff, who played keyboards on all of Sabbath's albums between 1980 and 1995 and toured with them, was reportedly in remission from cancer at the time of his death but succumbed to the side effects of chemotherapy.
Nicholls's first appearance on a Sabbath album was on 1980's "Heaven And Hell". Although his main role with Sabbath was on the keyboard,
Nicholls also played some rhythm guitar at concerts. In addition to not always being credited as a full member of the band, Nicholls rarely appeared on stage during the shows and would instead play on the side of the stage or backstage.
Nicholls's involvement with the band ended when Adam Wakeman (a member of Ozzy Osbourne's solo band) was chosen to play keyboards during Sabbath's 2004 and 2005 tours as part of Ozzfest.
Nicholls also played keyboards with former Black Sabbath singer Tony Martin in his band Tony Martin's Headless Cross, and performed on both of Martin's solo albums.
Before joining Black Sabbath, Nicholls was member of the NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) band QUARTZ, whose 1977 debut album was produced by Iommi. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Geoff played lead guitar for the Birmingham band Johnny Neil And The Starliners.
The boys dedicated Snowblind to their fallen brother:
Blabbermouth.net, 2 February 2017
This morning, 28 January 2017, sad news shocked all Black Sabbath fans hearts...
Quartz official page issued following statement:
"GEOFF NICHOLLS ..... LEGEND , BAND MEMBER AND FRIEND29th February 1944 to 28th January 2017Everyone in the band, and associated with the band, are struggling to find the words to express their feelings and sadness regarding the passing of their dear friend Geoff Nicholls earlier this morning at home. Geoff had been unwell for a long time battling cancer and had under gone extensive radio and chemotherapy plus other trial treatment but all sadly to no avail in the end. In this darkest and lowest moment of time Geoff's lyrics and music speak volumes to us and for us and through these his memory will live on forever.Our deepest sympathies,thoughts and prayers go out to Gloria and her family as they try come to terms with their loss. RIP GEOFF xxx"
A bit later, heartbroken Tony Iommi posted this touching message:
"I'm so saddened to hear the loss of one of my dearest and closest friends Geoff Nicholls. He's been suffering for a while now with lung cancer and he lost his battle this morning. Geoff and I have always been very close and he has been a real true friend to me and supported me all the way for nearly 40 years. I will miss him dearly and he will live in my heart until we meet again.Rest In Peace my dear friend.Tony"
Words are shallow to express all the pain and sadness today... All friends and fans are mourning...
Rest in peace, fifth Sabbath boy! May your soul find bliss in heaven. Thank you for entire life of superb art. You are part of our DNA, and will live in our hearts forever.
28 January 2017
Tony and his Black Sabbath is bringing its storied career to a close in its native England, with seven shows booked there in January and February. The last two, on February 2 and February 4, will take place in Sabbath's hometown of Birmingham and will likely be their final shows.
Asked if he has regrets about anything that transpired during Sabbath's nearly five-decade career, Tony told Kerrang! magazine:
"You always think there's loads of things you could've done, but would you be where you are now if you'd done them? I could say, 'Oh, I wish I hadn't done all those drugs in the early days,' but there must have been a reason, somewhere along the line, why you do these things, so you learn something and go on to the next stage. I can complain about things, but there's been a reason for it."
Sabbath rolled back the years with a stunning performance at the Glasgow Hydro that had heavy-metal headbangers of all ages screaming for more, writes "The Scottish Sun". Here's the excrept from the newspaper:
"With original members, Geezer Butler on bass and the sensational Tony Iommi shredding on lead guitar, the huge crowd in the arena were left stunned at how easy they make it all look. The current line-up also boasts the incredible Tommy Clufetos who treated us to a remarkable drum solo half-way through the set as the front three caught their breath. On a murky Glasgow night the packed Hydro audience got what they came for on what is billed as a farewell tour. All the old hits were laid on the table with Fairies Wear Boots, Snowblind and Hand of Doom among the highlights of the evening. The classic tunes made sure the fans in the mosh pit on the floor of the Hydro were kept in an energetic frenzy for almost the entire night. It’s a pity the band could only afford a one song encore – but then that song was Paranoid. With Ozzy in full swing the crowd indulged in one last extravaganza of headbanging before disappearing into the night with their ears ringing."
Below are some footage from Dublin and Glasgow.
Thescottishsun.co.uk, Blabbermouth.net, 27 January 2017