Tony Iommi on Sabbath’s last tour: “I can’t do this anymore”

Posted by on September 7, 2015

iommiA lot of bands call it quits or play their “last” tour, only to go back on that when nostalgia drives up their asking price or they discover that they don’t want to throw in the towel. Black Sabbath, who announced their “THE END” tour last week, won’t be one of them. In an interview with the Birmingham Mail, guitarist Tony Iommi, who’s suffered from lymphoma, says that his body just can’t take it any more:

“I can’t actually do this anymore,” admits the guitar hero. “My body won’t take it much more.” Iommi, who battled lymphoma, has tests in two weeks’ time to ensure the cancer has not returned. “I don’t want that creeping back again,” he says. “And all the travelling involved in Sabbath tours increasingly takes its toll. That’s why we’re going out on one last tour, to say our farewells. And then it very definitely is the end. We won’t be doing it again.”

Well, that’s certainly for the right reasons, and given the strain of touring, it doesn’t seem like something someone with lymphoma should be doing, regardless of how they travel:

We’ve been doing this for getting on for 50 years now. It’s about time we draw the line, don’t you think? It’s been great but it’s time to stop now. Don’t get me wrong, I still love gigging. It’s all the travelling and the exhaustion that goes with it that’s the problem. That side of things has a big impact on me. Yes, we may fly in luxury, stay in the very best hotels, ride in the most comfortable limos but there’s still a physical cost to touring. Even when we build in rest breaks – I have to have blood tests every six weeks – I find it tough going. You take a long haul flight, arrive somewhere at five in the morning and book into a hotel. There’s the soundcheck, the promotional work, the gig itself, then you’re back at the hotel to collapse into bed. Then next day you get to do it all over again. I love being up there onstage, playing with Sabbath. What I don’t love is all the other stuff necessary to enable that to happen. None of us are getting any younger, you know.”

Elsewhere in the interview, he says that the door isn’t entirely shut on Bill Ward’s return, although it’s up to the band’s original drummer accepting the contract offered to him:

“That depends on Bill,” says Iommi. “We met up again six weeks ago and we got on great – but it’s down to Bill. Our plans as they stand are to tour with Ozzy, Geezer Butler, myself and Ozzy’s drummer Tommy Clufetos, who did so well on the last tour. He can do things with drums that still amaze me. His solos last time out were mind-boggling.”

It’d be surprising if Ward returned, but it would also be a fitting way to end the band: with the original lineup. As far as the follow-up to 13, Iommi tells the Mail that while he’s written some songs already, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be coming out with another album:

“I’ve been busy writing songs ever since the ‘13’ sessions,” says Iommi. “At that point we thought there might be another Sabbath album. But that’s up in the air now so I don’t know when or where they might appear. The tracks are ready, though.”

As far as his health problems, the 67 year-old Iommi says that they aren’t just relegated to lymphoma:

“Aside from my lymphoma, I’ve been back in hospital again recently because of back problems,” he admits. “The funny thing is, while you’re out on tour it’s a full-on thing, you’re busy all the time. It’s when you come off tour that the side-effects kick in. While you’re at home, just when you think you got away with it!”


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