VH1 Reveals the Bloody Birth of Heavy Metal

My interest in heavy metal music is minimal but a great story is a great story, especially when the hero overcomes severe, even ironic adversity. So it happened 67 years ago when a Birmingham welder (and future Black Sabbath guitarist) named Anthony Frank “Tony” Iommi lost two fingers to a metal stamping machine.

Based on the work of UK illustrator Paul Blow and animated by VH1 senior designer Kee Koo, this 3:35 mini-doc created for VH1’s Complete History of Heavy Metal reveals how Iommi, inspired by the tale of legendary guitarist Django Reinhardt, turned his disabled fretting hand into the driving force of his breakthrough and influential guitar sound.

Paul Blow in Dorset, UK: “The project started with a script with Tony narrating his early experiences which I used to create a storyboard. I was given creative freedom which proved excellent, as most of my suggestions were included. So by the end we had around 50 frames from which I then produced final art. All within a three week period….ouch.

“I totally loved the idea of the MACHINE as a supporting character and used that to create the factory building’s ‘face’ – also can you spot the beast? A cross between Judas Priest’s Hellion and a totally Metal Unicorn – happy days.”

Client: VH1
Illustration: Paul Blow
Animation: Kee Koo