“You’re never going to be able to play”: Specialists told Tony Iommi after that infamous accident

The heavy metal legend talks Black Sabbath, his incredible guitar journey and his near career-ending injury.

Lead Guitarist Tony Iommi of Heaven & Hell performs during the Metal Masters tour on August 24, 2008 at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in San Antonio, Texas. Image: Gary Miller/FilmMagic

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Tony Iommi recently opened up about the infamous workplace incident he suffered where he lost the tips of two fingers on his right hand.

In the latest episode of GibsonTV’s Icons, the Black Sabbath legend said the injury occured on his very last day at a factory where he held a welding job. A colleague hadn’t turned up for work so Iommi was required to operate a guillotine press used for cutting metal sheets. “As I’m pushing the metal through, into the press, the machine came down on my hand. And in the action of pulling my hand back quickly, I pulled the ends of my fingers off”, Iommi said. “I couldn’t believe it, you know. The last day.”

“While the bandages were on, I was learning to play with my two fingers and it seemed like forever, you know”, he said. “I went to see various specialists and they said, ‘You might as well pack up. You’re never going to play’, which was really depressing but I wouldn’t accept that.”

The godfather of heavy metal then discussed eventually creating his own artificial fingertips, starting off with plastic but landing on leather for optimal grip and comfort.

In the interview, Iommi also spoke about the early days of Black Sabbath – sharing detailed anecdotes about his bandmates Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward – and his storied six-string career which has spanned over half a century.

GibsonTV’s Icons series, as its name suggests, focuses on the “most iconic artists, producers and music business pioneers the industry has ever known”. The last episode featured legendary producer Bob Rock, who’s known for his work with Metallica, The Tragically Hip, Aerosmith, The Cult, Bon Jovi and more.

Watch the full episode above.

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