Three days after Black Sabbath announced their “The End” tour, guitarist Tony Iommi admitted in a new interview that he can no longer endure the rigors of touring and reiterated that this farewell jaunt is “very definitely” the heavy metal icon’s final trek together. Speaking to the Birmingham Mail, Iommi says of touring, “I can’t actually do this anymore. My body won’t take it much more.”
Iommi, who was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2012, also expressed concerns that being on the road might result in a recurrence of the disease. “I don’t want that creeping back again, and all the traveling involved in Sabbath tours increasingly takes its toll,” Iommi said. “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.” Iommi was also hospitalized recently with back problems, and he still requires blood tests every six weeks to monitor his lymphoma.
“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,” Iommi said. “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… 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.”
Barring a change of heart prior to the trek kicks off January 20th, 2016 in Omaha, Black Sabbath will reach their conclusion without longtime drummer Bill Ward, who told Rolling Stone of “The End” tour, “I wish them well, and I have no further comment.” Iommi revealed that the band recently had a meeting with Ward, who left Black Sabbath in May 2012 over a royalties disagreement, and that the door is open for Ward to return. “That depends on Bill,” says Iommi. “We met up again six weeks ago and we got on great, but it’s down to Bill.” For now, drummer Tommy Clufetos will continue to fill in for Ward.
Iommi added that Black Sabbath’s “The End” set lists would only feature Ozzy-era tracks – no Ronnie James Dio cuts – and that while this is the end of Black Sabbath, the guitarist still might perform live occasionally. Although the initial tour announcement only included dates in North America, Australia and New Zealand, Iommi assured the Birmingham Mail that Black Sabbath would visit Europe, and especially their native United Kingdom, before reaching the end.