Luthier John Diggins of Jaydee Custom Guitars has passed away – Tony Iommi pays tribute

John Diggins with Tomy Iommi
(Image credit: Tony / Jaydee Guitars)

British guitar builder John Diggins of Jaydee Guitars passed away on 2 January following complications battling a long-term illness. 

Birmingham luthier Diggins had built guitars under John Birch before branching out on his own in 1977. His most famous customer, Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi, used his SG-style designs as his go-to instruments for stage and studio with No. 1 'Old Boy' – his most recognisable guitar. Slade's Noddy Holder, Angus Young and Iommi's bandmate Geezer Butler also had custom instruments made by Diggins. 

"What a terrible shock to hear from JD's wife last night that my old pal John Diggins had passed away!" Iommi reacted on his social media channels. "He was a very dear friend to me and we’d known each other since the '70s. He’s built many guitars for me over the years and he was a superb craftsman who loved what he did. He will be sadly missed but not forgotten. My deepest condolences go out to his wife and family. R.I.P John."

"It is with deep regret that we have to let you know of the sad passing away of Jay Dee (John Diggins)," said Jaydee Guitars announcing the news. "He died suddenly but peacefully in hospital on the morning of Tuesday 2 January, following complications in battling a long-term illness.

"He will be dearly missed by all who knew him, especially his wife Helen, sons Michael and Andrew and grandsons Jake and Toby. Funeral arrangements will be made shortly and announced here."

Michael and Andrew joined the business to build guitars alongside their father, and will continue his legacy alongside grandson Toby at Jaydee Custom Guitars. 

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.