Tony Iommi turns 64 this Sunday, Born February 19, 1948 in Birmingham, England.

Best known as the guitarist/songwriter and founding member of Black Sabbath, Tony announced early last month that he'd been diagnosed with early stage Lymphoma.

The discovery that Iommi had the disease came shortly after the band had announced reunion plans, with an album and tour to take place this year.  Tony's illness wasn't expected to interfere with those plans.

Those reunion plans could be in jeopardy, however, since it was reported February 2 that drummer Bill Ward said he wouldn't be part of the reunion unless he had a "signable contract".  On February 3, it was announced the rest of the band would record without him.  There's also been some dispute as to whether Ward actually was fired or simply quit.  Details on the conflicting stories can be found here.

But back to Tony.  He's had many accolades for his musicianship, of  course, but the one that stands out most in my mind is this one from Greg Prato at Allmusic:  "Iommi is one of only two guitarists (the other being Jimmy Page) that can take full credit for pioneering the mammoth riffs of heavy metal."

And what makes his accomplishments even more impressive, of course, is that he's managed to be a legendary guitarist despite "short fingers" on his right hand due to an accident at a factory when he was a teenager (where a machine cut off the tips of two fingers).

Here's Iommi showing us what he can do back in 1978 on Black Sabbath's Never Say Die Tour: