A chance meeting between a senior music lecturer and industry bigwigs at an international heavy metal conference led to music legend and guitarist Tony Iommi visiting the University of Northampton to undertake a very special task.
The Black Sabbath member is to be honoured with the Courage Award at this year’s Loudwire Music Awards, which recognises both his musical output and his bravery in his battle with cancer.
It was decided that the trophy would feature Black Sabbath’s iconic ‘sign of the horns’ and going forward will be presented to future generations of courageous artists.
Due to heavy metal fan Dr Jasmine Shadrack’s networking and having made the right contacts at the conference, it was arranged that the original moulding for the cast of Tony’s hand would be undertaken by members of the Fine Art department at the University of Northampton.
During his visit, Tony also took the time to meet other fans – students from the Popular Music course and the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology – John Sinclair.
Jasmine Shadrack said: “It was quite a remarkable experience and I’m so glad our students got to meet and chat with Tony. I’m ecstatic that I was able to chat about guitars with one of my heroes and that our University has been part of such an exciting project.”
John Sinclair commented: “It was a tremendous honour to welcome Tony Iommi – officially one of the greatest guitarists of all time and an idol to millions – to the University, so that we could use our expertise to cast his now iconic ‘sign of the horns’ that is so synonymous with Black Sabbath.
“Tony was an absolute pleasure to work with throughout his visit and wanted to know all about the University’s world leading work in social enterprise and innovation. He also took the time to speak with our Popular Music students and give them advice on how to take the first steps on the road to becoming a music legend.”
Third year Popular Music student Alicia Jilks said: “I found it to be a very exciting opportunity to get to chat to one of the biggest names in the music industry. He was very inspiring and has given me more ideas about what I can do with my future career.”
In an interview with Loudwire, Tony said: “Of all the funny things that I have done in my life, this was another one. I was asked to put my arm into a big bucket full of coloured gel. All was going fine until it set and then I couldn’t get my arm back out! After a considerable amount of pulling and twisting, it eventually came out and the cast looked amazing.”
Find out more about Tony’s hand cast and watch the video below of how it all happened.
Videography by Aaron Freeman with special thanks to University technician, Kenny Ross who made the cast.