Ozzy Osbourne’s keen observation led to the early detection of Tony Iommi’s cancer in 2012, as revealed by Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler. During the writing process of their final album, 13, Ozzy noticed Iommi’s significant weight loss and urged him to get checked out. Upon returning to England, Iommi was diagnosed with a form of lymphoma, prompting him to undergo chemotherapy while continuing to work on the album.
“As writing was in process at Ozzy’s house, he made the observation that Tony had lost too much weight and that he should get checked out.” This prompted Iommi to seek medical attention, and he was subsequently diagnosed with a form of lymphoma upon returning to England.
Despite the physical toll of cancer treatment, Iommi remained determined and resilient, showing the same unwavering dedication he displayed when he lost the tips of his fingers early in his career. Although touring was out of the question, Black Sabbath organized a special performance at the 2012 Download Festival, demonstrating that they still had plenty of life left in them.
Butler also highlighted Iommi’s determination and resilience during the treatment: “Tony would have chemotherapy in the morning and come straight home to his studio, where we’d put some ideas together. He was tired and nauseous… his hair was falling out. But Tony’s not like that… he was determined to plow on, just like he did when he lost the tips of his fingers.”
While the band’s reunion had its share of challenges, including drummer Bill Ward’s withdrawal, Geezer Butler reflected on his regret for contributing to the turmoil by not fully believing Ward’s side of the story. Butler acknowledged the soap opera-like nature of the band’s final years but also praised Iommi’s perseverance and strength throughout the difficult times.
“I’d betrayed Bill’s friendship by not believing his side of the story, which was that he’d actually agreed to do the charity gig for free.” Despite the difficulties, the band managed to showcase their resilience and perform at the 2012 Download Festival, proving “there was plenty of life in the old dogs yet,” as Butler stated.
In the face of adversity, Ozzy Osbourne’s astute observation ultimately played a crucial role in Tony Iommi’s cancer diagnosis, highlighting the importance of being attentive to the well-being of loved ones. Black Sabbath’s journey serves as a reminder of the resilience of these rock legends and their unwavering commitment to their music.