Tony Iommi’s guitar tech and close friend Mike Clement has been placed in a medically induced coma after taking a fall at his workplace. Iommi, who shared the news on Twitter yesterday (April 18) and offered his best wishes, said that Clement had suffered a “severe tumble” but there were signs that his condition was improving.
“Ongoing sad news about my tech and good friend Mick Clement who took a serious tumble while working at his business,” wrote Iommi. “He’s been in an induced coma and is thankfully starting to show signs of progress. Our thoughts are with his family, he has been a keyman with me for over 30 yrs.”
Clement has been working with Iommi since 1990. What he doesn’t know about electric guitar is not worth knowing. Before his time with Iommi, Clement worked with Motörhead for three-and-a-half years.
When Clement sat down with Thomann’s Kris Barocsi last year to share Iommi’s setup secrets, he said that his experiences with hard-hitting players such as Würzel and Lemmy were an education in string-changing efficiency.
“I got used to doing them very fast indeed,” said Clement. “I could get a string changed, stretched out and back to them before the end of a song.”
These skills, however, were not needed with Iommi. Describing Iommi’s playing as “very controlled”, Clement revealed that Iommi had not broken a string onstage in 25 years.
“He never thrashes,” said Clement. “It kind of goes with his personality and also because we think very carefully about the rig – the rig does all the hard work.”
After all these years, Clement performs much of Iommi’s setup by feel, using only a ruler to help set neck relief. The Thomann interview makes for fascinating viewing, with Clement discussing how, in Black Sabbath’s latter years, the band introduced more low tunings in concert to complement Ozzy Osbourne’s voice, and discussing some of the other essentials in Iommi's rig besides his Gibson SG Special signature guitars and Laney guitar amps.
Everyone at Guitar World wishes Clement a speedy recovery.