The honor recognizes Iommi not only for his recent battle with lymphoma, but for his lifelong determination to pursue a pioneering musical career despite an accident that severed two of his fingertips at the age of 17.
“I’m really honored to be here, and to have such great friends, Zakk [Wylde] and everybody else here,” Iommi said after receiving the trophy, which interestingly enough was created from a mold of his hand. After confessing that he didn’t know what else to say, the crowd took over with big cheers of “We Love You!” and “Tony! Tony! Tony!”
Iommi has been the only member of Black Sabbath to play in every incarnation of the band since their formation in 1968. But for the past five years, much of his focus has been on his health, after being diagnosed with lymphoma.
“The surgeon told me he doesn’t expect the cancer to go away,” he said three years ago. “There’s a 30 percent chance that it could, but more than likely it will come back and it could be any time.”
The band had to put plans to record their 2013 album 13 on hold while Iommi sought treatment, which was comprised of six rounds of chemotherapy. Their subsequent tour of 28 countries was also planned around Iommi’s antibody treatments.
“When I get back to England I have to have an operation to remove this thing at the back of my nose. The doctors found a lump and we don’t know if it’s cancer or what. But I feel okay at the moment,” Iommi told the Irish Times prior to the operation.
“I came back to hospital straight after [Black Sabbath] finished a round of European tour dates, and the good news is that everything is all right up to this point,” he told Rolling Stone in August of last year while on The End tour. Among the reasons, however, that the band called it quits, was Iommi’s admission that his “body won’t take it much more.”
But through it all, Iommi has maintained a positive attitude. “I was knocked for six when the doctors told me that it was, that it was stage III cancer,” he said. “It really did change my life as far as what I have to do now. I have to live what life I’ve got because I have been on the road nearly 50 years. I need to be at home more and I need to pay more attention to my friends and family.
Black Sabbath Albums Ranked in Order of Awesomeness