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Tony Iommi - Rock musician

After 43 years, Tony Iommi is the one original member of Black Sabbath. Despite missing finger tips, a rock and roll lifestyle and now cancer, what keeps him playing?


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put out the burning forests. For all. -- time for HARDtalk. The crew

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are of metal, the king of the heavy riff. His band is topping the chart

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again. Although looks at his bed and her all the behaviour of Ozzy

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Osbourne, the guitarist, Tony Iommi has led to the full and now cancer.

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Still recording and touring, what keeps in mind? - are what keeps him

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Tony Iommi, will come to heart talk. How does it feel to be back on top

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after all these years? Fantastic. I mean, to have a number one all over

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the world - what can you say? It is just brilliant. You even managed to

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knock Rod Stewart OP the top! Mark are mack. Much you think burning

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home influenced what became black Sabbath -- Birmingham. A lot. This

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is the background of an hour music. The industrial side of it. Being

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brought up around going and not particularly very nice. We wanted

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to get out but you were trapped, really. Is it was the way to be

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able to get out. It eventually did get you out but for some time you

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were there, practising, and learning to trade. We often think

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the 60s was the swinging time, a and? I do not think so. Knights. We

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touring. touring. All the power house -- for

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our house stop. Was it a reaction to all that he's an up stop? Yes.

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It was talking about the nice things and we came out talking

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about the things that really are happening in the world - divorce -

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the other side of life. Not a particularly cheap or perspective

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or message to put out. It refects how you felt about?

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I think so. The based on was responsible for most of lyrics. --

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the bass player. I did the music side. I get blamed for that. Even

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so, you were part of the bike, the scary music thing. Ozzy Osbourne

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said you came up writing scary music because he grew up from it -

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across the road from a cinema which showed horror films. It was that

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feeling of being frightened. Are That

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that in mus?I ? that in museat. A liked to have that same feeling

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from the music. In in the didn't happen at all. Told me about the

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accident? The acts and happen before Black Sabbath. -- the

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accident. I had just been offered this job to go to Germany. You were

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way out there. Absolutely. I really liked playing with them. My mother

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of... Are at work and a work in a factory doing welding. Somebody

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used to cut the metal and stone the down to me and I would world. One

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day, these pose and didn't come so that we on the machine and I had

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never worked on the machine ever. The thing came down on my hand and

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as I pulled back, it took the edge of my finger off. What happened

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before that, I'm sorry, I went home for lunch and are said to my mother,

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I'm not going back in to work today. I am going to stop. She said, you

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go back in and make sure you finish up your day and that is what

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happened. She must have felt quite at about that. She probably did.

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But it is strange how things happen like that stop it is weird. It i it

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had not gone, my stock would change - it may create a start of play.

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Explain that. It was almost serendipity. It was. It made me

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invent a way of playing because I had to make these caps for my

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fingers. I went to the hospital and they said, you might as well keeper,

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basically. That would not except that. But all it must be a way. The

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manager of the foam who own work for, brought me a break cut round

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and he said, can I play it. I said I was not in just that. It did not

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feel up run. Which has listen to it. I said, that was great stop and he

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said, this guy plays with two fingers. And it inspired me to do

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what. I made some tips myself. washing up ?I ? washing up n?

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And noted it down, got a hot soldering iron and made a hole in

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it until it in my finger. I just sat there for ever running down to

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make the shape of a finger. Then had to to find something that would

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end. At the end of the day a come up with that much so that would

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grip the string and a good that. Very primitive, Robinson Crusoe

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thing - but it worked. If you listen to what some of your fellow

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musicians and said, the king of the heavy riff, without him, it would

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not exist. It ended in to hit the metal. We knew topped the poll,

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they praised the highly its dinky white he played. -- the way you

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play. Let's eat some of your plane. What make that kind of playing

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special and the stink it? -- distinctive?I ? distinctive... I

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used to be able to play proper court in a conventional way but I

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had to come up with a different way altogether because I could not play

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the same way. I had to work on how to press on the strings because

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they could not feel anything apart from the pain. You could not feel

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how much you have been in the strings. Even today?It is still no

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sign. I still use chips that are made for me now. You can afford it?

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I still have to put Labour on. I have an old jacket from the 60s. --

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an end there. I use that. They last about three weeks. Not everyone is

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impressed by heavy metal music. For all its pervasiveness, it really

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inspired a lot of music, the bulk of the music, he says, macho, speed

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demon solace, and drums - it is a bit unimaginative. What can I say

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to that? What you say to that?I do not know. I do not know how to

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answer that. I do not cast ourselves as he be metal. A lot of

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Power. You try to create some kind of vibe. It was not just the music.

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It was a distinctive side. That is what unknowns people about the

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music. They fill in I think it exploits their emotions. It tries

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to build atmosphere and it is actually a bit, in that sense, a

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bit unhealthy. I do not think it is. We have at a lot of... It depends

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what bands you are on about... What we do, we have at a lot of letters

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over the years, from people who said, and got the music. You have

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helped me tremendously through these hard times because they went

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through the songs, the lyrics, the field, and it has genuinely helped

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people. And yet, you perform in a way that plays up the satanic image.

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You're not a coulters? Not at all. We dabbled in it in the early days

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because we were young and you're inquisitive. As far as any kind...

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Win over sacrificed any body of the age or anything like that. -- we

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never sacrificed. When we did the first album, the record company did

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the cover and that is what done it. The inside of the cover was an

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upside down Cross. So that started everybody OP. You're wearing the

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Cross today the right way up. Is it disingenuous - was it a cheap

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thrill or the audience was my we believe in what we didn't play.

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Everything we played we have to feel it and believe it. The

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audience - we have been here for 45 years. You answer that. What about

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the diminish it was Mark that, again, was just something I like.

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And never even knew about it to be on us when it first did it. I did

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not understand or back. We were 19 the use. Would you explain for

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people-watching. What was behind that. Black Sabbath was the sop but

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-- the first on that had that. Apparently they are the notes you

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never use. But I never knew that. To me it was creating music and

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that's all I do, I create music. I do not tried to create anything to

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upset anybody, destroy people. It has helped more people. We are not

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satanist, certainly not. For some quite... You talk about a nurse who

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killed herself and paradise was playing beside her. That is right.

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We never knew what the reason was. There is always going to be

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something they will find. Does it bother you? You hate for anybody to

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have killed themselves. There is not saying it was ours. It is

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saying that at paradigm on the turntable. Ozzy Osbourne was

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talking about a guy that killed all those women, he had the lyrics

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written on the wall. Ditch you thank you had gone too far? No, the

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lyrics are about what was going on in the world. You have to talk to

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the geezer. He would write about what he had seen and what we felt

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we were going through, people we were bumping into, the type of

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people. You say the lyrics you wrote but you were part of that,

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part of building the environment, their image, the sound which was so

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important - that creates some responsibility, does it not?

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you're looking into it that deep, yes, we look at it as music. The

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lyrics written because geyser or was said to me, he has to write

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powerful lyrics to go with the powerful music. It was your fault,

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You could have Rolls-Royces, Lamborghini is, quite a lifestyle.

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You look back on that lifestyle with a tete with affection? I can't

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change it but there are things, certain things, you could have done

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differently. What things?A lot of the staff. Give me some examples.

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The drugs side. If I'd known that, I would have not done that to that

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extent. Ozzy Osbourne described cocaine as a cancer to the band.

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was, absolutely. How much long-term damage did it do? As far as the

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band is concerned, I think it did a lot of damage. Initially we thought

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it was great and helping us be creative. At the end of the day,

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when it came to the point where we had to replace ourselves, we were

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in a bad way. He was certainly in a bad way. We had to fire him, which

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was awful. Did you do that face to face? Actually, the drum up told

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him. We were going to it all tell him to go there but Bill step in

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and told us - -- told him without us. It was a terrible thing. He got

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to the stage where he was not into it any more and he was doing too

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much of everything, we all doing this stuff. He was worse than us, a

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few stages ahead. What were you doing? Cocaine, way ludes, all of

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the stuff around at that time. Not acid or anything like that. Indeed

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some things starting off as a practical joke that you look back

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upon now th?I ? upon now th practical joke. Spraying one of

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York band members gold which may have killed him? Another one got

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third-degree burns on his legs after setting fire to his legs.

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Beale was the drummer, he was the one we picked on and he liked it,

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to be honest. If he did not play out that day, he would ask why we

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did not pick on him that day. was different to the kind of

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practical jokes that you would have done in the school yard back in

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Birmingham when you were kids. This different scale. It got really

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silly. When we sprayed him caught, we were laughing at the time but we

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did not realise how silly that was. A gifted the drugs make you lose

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respect? Probably, yes. I think it does in the end. You do get taken

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over by them. It depends upon what you do. Does it make you want to

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sort of reach out to some of the younger musicians now and say to

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them, if you knew what I knew, you would not be touching this stuff.

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It's like what my parents would have said to me. You have to

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experience certain things sometimes. However much I said not to do these

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things, don't do this or that, are they going to do it? I don't know.

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You think you were setting a bad example to the fans and the people

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buying your music? They still bought the music and half the time

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you were composing while of your face. I don't think it was a bad

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example. It was a personal thing brass. We did not share it or give

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people things. We did it for Russ, experimentation. Trying stuff. We

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once we hit America, I never did anything until America. Then it

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went berserk. You spoke about firing Ozzy Osbourne which you did

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at the end of the 70s. He has obviously come back to the band

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after a long period away. At one point you were having a legal

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dispute over the ownership of the name Black Sabbath. He said as a

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kid he was a real pain at school. I get the impression it's been quite

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a complicated relationship? school, the school we went towards

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a tough school. Ozzy Osbourne was younger than me. That was always

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the case when I first went to the school we were picked on by the

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older kids, that's just the way it was. So you pick on him?We did not

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pick on him, he was a pain and a nuisance. He is funny now when we

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look at it. But at that time he was. You would probably give him a clip

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around the ear. But years later, that and nor in quality deduce some

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favours when you had a little pain that you were not thinking about

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doing anything about? I'm talking about the diagnosis. Yes, yes, that

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knocked me for 61 were found out I had cancer. Ozzy Osbourne made you

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get it checked out? We were working at his house in Birmingham. We were

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riding the album. I was getting some preening in my groin. He said

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to me, you don't look well. I did not feel well and I told him what

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was happening. He told me to go and get checked out and organised a

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doctor. I told him I would sort it out. I did. I saw a doctor in her

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Los Angeles. They wanted to cut something off to see what it was.

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There may told you? Back in England, they told me. I went to the

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hospital to have a prostate problem. I had an operation. While they were

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Cutting they took out a lump and they told me that it was not

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Prostate cancer but they found lymphoma in that lump. I was very

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disappointed. I said, oh no. What is lymphoma? I kind of new. When

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you before you'd lost one of Ozzy Osbourne replacements. He had

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stomach cancer. Did you think you would get the same thing? Yes, I

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did, absolutely. Ronni was complaining about his stomach. I

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told him to see the doctor. He said yeah, yeah, I will after the tour.

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Of course it was too late for him. After the tour, it had spread.

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think the cancer had an effect to the band, playing a part in this?

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think it brought us closer together than we ever have been. It kind of

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suddenly reality about what may happen. Everybody called together

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'The true father of metal'; 'the king of the heavy riff' - these are just some of the accolades lauded on Tony Iommi and his band, Black Sabbath, topping the charts again after 43 years.

Black Sabbath are better known for the antics of on/off lead singer Ozzy Osbourne than the skills of its guitarist. But Iommi is the one original member of the band to have stayed the course. This despite missing finger tips that can make playing painful, a rock and roll lifestyle lived to the full, and now cancer. Still recording and touring around his treatment, what keeps him playing?