Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi to undergo hand surgery

Iommi's hand problems aren't his first
Iommi's hand problems aren't his first (Image credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Corbis)

Black Sabbath/Heaven And Hell guitarist Tony Iommi is set to undergo surgery for a debilitating hand condition, much like the one Eddie Van Halen went through recently.

Iommi, responsible for some of heavy metal's most monstrous riffs, revealed that he feels constant pain in his right hand (the one he frets with - he's a lefty), and that his only course of action is to go under the knife.

"After this run, we're going to have some time off," Iommi told the Aquarian. "I've got to have an operation on my hand. It's sort of a major thing I need to get done and I've been putting it off."

Bone against bone

"The cartilage has gone from the thumb in my fingering hand. I have to have the operation - the bone is rubbing on the bone" Tony Iommi on his upcoming hand surgery

"The cartilage has gone from the thumb in my fingering hand," the guitarist said. "It's been like that for a year, to be honest. I've been taking anti-inflammatories and all sorts of stuff to try and calm it down. But it's inevitable I have to have the operation - the bone is rubbing on the bone."

Iommi said he'd recently spoken to Eddie Van Halen, whose own surgery will have him on the mend for the next few months. Van Halen encouraged Iommi to go ahead with the procedure.

Iommi's troubled hand history

The propect of 'going under the knife' to treat a hand condition is surely a scary one for any guitarist. For Iommi, however, its magnitude takes on added dimensions:

When Tony Iommi was 17, he lost the tips of his middle and ring fingers on his fretting hand while working in a sheet metal factory.

Through the years, Iommi experimented with various methods of replacing the missing ends on his digits - everything from self-made plastic coverings to thimbles topped with leather. Nowadays, he uses custom-made tips.

Joe Bosso

Joe is a freelance journalist who has, over the past few decades, interviewed hundreds of guitarists for Guitar WorldGuitar PlayerMusicRadar and Classic Rock. He is also a former editor of Guitar World, contributing writer for Guitar Aficionado and VP of A&R for Island Records. He’s an enthusiastic guitarist, but he’s nowhere near the likes of the people he interviews. Surprisingly, his skills are more suited to the drums. If you need a drummer for your Beatles tribute band, look him up.