Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi has been diagnosed with the early stages of lymphoma but a new album for the legendary metal band is still on track, it was announced Monday.
Iommi, 63, is currently working with his doctors to determine the best course and “remains upbeat and determined to make a full and successful recovery,” a statement said.
In November, the group — Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward — announced album and tour plans. While the statement does not indicate whether live dates will be affected, the band continues to write and record their first album in over three decades. Rick Rubin will produce the group’s comeback album, which is expected to be released in fall 2012 through Vertigo/Universal.
The metal pioneers are scheduled to headline Download Festival, which will take place between June 8-10 in Donington Park, England.
Since the original lineup came together in 1968, the English metal pioneers have scored album sales of 15 million, according to the RIAA. Between 1970 and 2007, Black Sabbath have had 22 entries on the Billboard 200, and their biggest-selling effort — 1970’s “Paranoid,” which featured classic rock tracks like “Iron Man” and “War Pigs” — has sold 1.6 million in the SoundScan era.
The lineup of Osbourne, Iommi, Butler and Ward released its last album, “Never Say Die,” in 1978; the disc has sold 133,000 copies in the SoundScan era. Osbourne split with Black Sabbath in 1979 and went on to a hugely successful solo career, with hits like “Crazy Train,” “Mr. Crowley” and “Shot in the Dark.” He rejoined the band in 1997 and toured on-and-off with them through 2006, but the only new material produced was two songs tacked onto a 1998 live album.
Iommi, who wrote extensively about the band in his recent book “Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven & Hell With Black Sabbath,” told Billboard.com that he regrouped with Osbourne, bassist Butler and drummer Ward at Osbourne’s California home in early 2011 to play some music “for a bit of fun, and to see if we could all play. It was good, but it was just purely, ‘Let’s have a go and see what happens.'”