Legendary guitarist Tony Iommi, best known for his time with British heavy metal group Black Sabbath, has been diagnosed with the early stages of lymphoma, according to a statement on his website.
The sad news comes as Tony begins writing and recording new material with Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath - their first new work for 33 years. However, the band members have already signalled their intention to move from Los Angeles to London in order to work on the record while Iommi undergoes treatment in the capital. A statement on Tony's website read, "His bandmates would like everyone to send positive vibes to the guitarist at this time.Iommi is currently working with his doctors to establish the best treatment plan -- the 'Iron Man' of Rock & Roll remains upbeat and determined to make a full and successful recovery". A founding member of the Birmingham band, Iommi, 63, rose to become one of the world's best known guitarists as the group sold an estimated 70 million albums worldwide. In November 2011, the veterans announced they were to reunite as the original line-up, including Ozzy on vocals, for a new album and 2012 world tour. Though the band will continue working on the record, it is not clear whether Iommi's treatment will affect plans for the worldwide jaunt. The guitarist's career with Black Sabbath hasn't always run smoothly - he was fired from the band in 1979 leading to changes in the line-up for several years.
The quartet released their last studio album in 1978 with 'Never Say Die' - Tony has since released three solo records. In 2011, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him No. 25 on a list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time'. Iommi's unique guitar style came about after he lost the tips of two fingers on his right hand in an industrial accident at the age of 17. After attempting to learn to play right handed - he originally played left - he instead strung his guitars with lights strings and made thimbles to extend his fingers. Given his obvious limitations, Tony instead utilized chords of just two of three notes and found the "power chord" configuration.