DO THE MONKEY!
Guitar World|April 2020
TONY IOMMI takes you inside his new signature guitar, an extremely limited replica of his classic-era BLACK SABBATH axe, a cherry red 1964 Gibson SG Special known as the THE MONKEY. The Godfather of Metal also discusses the horde of new riffs he’s stockpiling, the prospect of new music (with or without BRIAN MAY) — and a recent airport encounter with ROBERT PLANT
RICHARD BIENSTOCK
DO THE MONKEY!

TONY IOMMI HAS SPENT THE LAST half-century conjuring the loudest, heaviest, most evil-sounding racket known to man and beast. But even he can still be stunned into silence every now and then. Take, for instance, the moment when the 71-year-old guitarist first laid eyes on his new Gibson model, a note-perfect replica of the cherry red 1964 SG Special (affectionately known as “the Monkey” due to a sticker on its body of a cartoon primate playing a fiddle) that was his primary instrument on the first five Black Sabbath albums — a clutch of records that, together, form something of the ur-text of heavy metal as we know it today.

“I was amazed when I saw it,” Iommi tells Guitar World. “I went, ‘My god!’ It just shocked me.”

The reason?

“This new model is exactly, exactly the same as the original,” he continues. “Right down to every little mark and dent. It’s just incredible.”

Given a guitar as iconic, as heavily modified and, let’s be honest, as weathered as Iommi’s original Monkey, this is no small achievement on Gibson’s part. The company has been responsible for several Iommi signature models over the years, including an impressively appointed Gibson Custom Shop design and an incredibly popular, more affordable Epiphone take. But, Gibson Chief Merchant Officer Cesar Gueikian points out, “We’ve never done the Monkey. And if you think about it, the Monkey is ‘the one.’ ”

This story is from the April 2020 edition of Guitar World.

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This story is from the April 2020 edition of Guitar World.

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