BLACK SABBATH guitarist Tony Iommi‘s iconic riffs, heavy tones, and massively influential albums created the blueprint for heavy metal and many other genres to follow. After an early accident that almost ended his career as a guitarist, Tony persevered to become universally loved and revered. And while Tony’s innovative tuning and playing styles have always been a major part of his monstrous tones, his original, heavily–modified 1964 Gibson SG Special, nick-named “Monkey” was at the center of it all.
By leveraging its iconic past and leaning into an innovative future, Gibson has set the stage for the next era of sound for present and future generations. Gibson is proud to take the next step in the partnership with legendary guitarist of Black Sabbath, Tony Iommi and launch the Tony Iommi SG Special from Gibson USA, a new and exciting version of his beloved SG guitar which helped shape the start of Heavy Metal. The Gibson Tony Iommi SG Special is now available worldwide on www.Gibson.com.
Instantly identified by the cartoon monkey sticker, Iommi‘s 1964 Special SG became the main instrument when the bridge pickup on Tony‘s white Stratocaster failed after BLACK SABBATH recorded “Wicked World” on the “Black Sabbath” album. It was not, however, without its problems. Due to the thin neck profile at the heel, there were always tuning stability problems and the single coil pick ups were always susceptible to picking up interference. The guitar was donated by Tony to the Hard Rock Café organization and is on display at the Times Square location in New York City.
Speaking to Guitarist magazine, Iommi stated about his original guitar: “All the first four or five albums it was used on — and bits on the others after that. Eventually, I retired it, because I was worried about taking it on the road. ‘Cause it used to always travel with me in the room, and I’d never lose sight of it — I wouldn’t leave it on its own, you know, in case somebody nicked it. Because that was — for me, I couldn’t just pick up another guitar; it had to be right. So it was really precious for me. And I was really worried about it, if I left it in a room and if somebody took it. ‘That’s it. I’m finished. No gigs.’ ‘Cause I didn’t have a backup of it.
“I was always very careful with it — I mean, I really was,” he continued. “On the flights, I’d always have it with me. Which is another thing — later on, you couldn’t take ’em on the plane and stuff like that. So eventually, I retired it. And I felt sad about it being stuck in a case, really, at home. And that’s where the Hard Rock [Café] came in. I thought it’d be better if people could see it in a showcase than me having it tucked away with another load of guitars in a box, you know?”
“Recently, I was invited to Nashville by Cesar and JC who I must tell you are so enthusiastic and passionate,” explains Tony Iommi. “I had the opportunity to go to the Gibson factories, meet the people that work there, and I saw how dedicated they all are to the craft. There’s no stopping Gibson, which is great for all of us guitar players and I am pleased to now be able to share this SG guitar with a wide audience.”
“Tony Iommi is the true definition of a musical pioneer and as the architect of the Heavy Metal movement, he deserves to be celebrated at every opportunity,” says Lee Bartram, EU Head of Marketing & Cultural Influence, Gibson Brands. “With this guitar, Gibson USA has created the ultimate tribute to an icon resulting in a very cool Gibson SG suitable for all genres of music.”