Black Sabbath announced last week they’ll launch their final tour next January.
And now guitarist Tony Iommi reveals the reason why the band has decided to pack it in after 47 years.
“I can’t actually do this anymore,” the 67-year-old guitarist tells Britain’s Birmingham Mail. “My body won’t take it much more.”
Iommi was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2012 and completed his treatment in 2014. In two weeks he’ll have follow-up tests to determine that the cancer is still in remission. His doctors have warned him that it could return, and he’s keen to keep the odds in his favor.
“I don’t want that creeping back again,” he says. “And all the traveling 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.”
Black Sabbath formed in Birmingham, England, in 1968 with Iommi, singer Ozzy Osbourne, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward, who left the group in 2012 over a contract dispute. His place on the tour will be taken by Osbourne’s drummer, Tommy Clufetos, who played on the band’s last tour
The band has named the farewell tour, appropriately, “The End.” Shows have already been announced for the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, with more to be announced.
“There will be U.K. dates,” Iommi says. “And, of course, we’ll be playing Birmingham. This is where it all began for us; this is where family and friends live; this is where our longest-standing fans are.
“It would be unimaginable for the Sabbath farewell tour not to include Birmingham.”
Iommi revealed to the Sunday Mercury earlier this year that his cancer could come back at any time.
“Every day I feel around for lumps and bumps,” he said. “Every time I get a pain in my stomach I think, ‘Oh God, it’s cancer.’
“The surgeon told me he doesn’t expect the cancer to go away. There’s a 30 percent chance that it could, but more than likely it will come back and it could be any time. I could be here another 10 years or just one year. I don’t know.”
Under the circumstances, Iommi is eager to tour while he still has his health. And while he’d be happy to have the original four members onboard, he says the decision is out of the band’s control.
“That depends on Bill,” he says. “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.”
Whoever plays, the band’s final curtain will be an emotional one.
“After a year on the road together, after all these years making music together, after everything we’ve been through together?” Iommi says. “There may be tears.”