Tony Iommi: "The thought of death is always with you"

Tony Iommi
"The thought of death is always with you"

Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi has been fighting lymphatic cancer for years.

© Markus Wissmann /

Black Sabbath star Tony Iommi has cancer of the lymph glands. He says: "The thought of death is always with one with such an illness."

Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi (73) is fighting his lymphatic cancer with chemotherapy and radiation treatment. His spokesman announced the diagnosis in early 2012. He is currently doing "well under the circumstances," as he says in an interview with "Welt am Sonntag". He regularly goes to his examinations. In Corona times, however, this is not that easy, "because I have to go to the hospital for it, and the clinics in England are currently very full".

Is there any prospect of a cure? The British musician answers this with neither yes nor no. "My doctor and I just take it every day. At the moment I feel okay," says Iommi instead. Of course there are the symptoms, you get tired of what comes from chemotherapy. He also feels side effects from the radiation treatment that is "unfortunately" necessary. "But you know what – I'm still here," he encourages himself and his fans.

"The thought of death is always with you"

The musician had often thought of death in recent years, "especially when I was feeling very bad, when the disease broke out really badly. At that time, I thought that was it," recalls Iommi. Black Sabbath (1969-2017) just recorded the album "13" (2013) and "I'm honest, I hurried up in the studio because I thought otherwise I wouldn't see it finished".

At that time Iommi was already being treated, writing songs and working in the studio had distracted him a little. "But the thought of death is always with you with such an illness. It never leaves you, especially when it comes to something as frightening as mine," says the artist.

Eddie Van Halen's death was a "huge shock"

Musician and Van Halen founder Eddie Van Halen (1955-2020) died of cancer on October 6, 2020. "That was a huge shock for me, he was a dear, really close friend. In addition to Brian May (73, Queen guitarist), Eddie was my best friend in the music business," says Iommi. "I accompanied him for many years during his cancer treatments, I saw what he had to go through." If a good friend like Van Halen died, "you inevitably think about your own life".

Tony Iommi is considered one of the best guitarists in the world and "godfather of heavy metal". He is married for the fourth time (since 2005), from his second marriage he has a daughter (born 1983).