Sabbath legend opens Birmingham music college

Tony Iommi Scholarship awarded to student.

Brummie music legend Tony Iommi was the guest of honour at the official opening of the new British & Irish Modern Music Institute on Floodgate St, Birmingham yesterday.

Guitarist, songwriter and producer, Tony is one of the founding members of Black Sabbath – one of the greatest rock and metal bands of all time – who have sold 70 million albums worldwide. His legacy spans an incredible 50 years in music and his continued support towards BIMM is an inspiration to its students.

When he arrived, Tony was given a tour around BIMM’s brand new £4 million state-of-the-art college, during which he watched a live performance workshop – led by BIMM Songwriting tutor (and lead singer of The Whip), Bruce Carter – and listened to the new students perform and critique one another.

Tony looked around the building, culminating in the impressive drum room, where he had a one-to-one meeting with student James Atwood. James is studying for a degree in guitar and Tony personally selected him to receive the scholarship that bears his name. Being awarded this prestigious Tony Iommi Scholarship means that James has his course fees – worth up to £20,250 – covered for the entirety of his degree at BIMM Birmingham.

James said afterwards: “It was brilliant; there was a great atmosphere in college. It’s a privilege to receive this Tony Iommi scholarship; he’s a guitar legend. Essentially this bursary will allow me to practice my art and follow my career choice. It’s a massive weight off my mind; I can immerse myself in studying for my degree without the worries of paying a loan back when I graduate.

“Tony was very friendly and asked me about my ambitions. He was interested in what I’ve been doing at BIMM and how I’m progressing. To be recognised for my drive as a musician is an honour.”

As well as the scholarship, BIMM will also offer three Tony Iommi BIMM Birmingham Bursaries where a student can access a £1,500 bursary for their first year to support them during their studies. Tony’s support of the BIMM scholarship and bursaries is a testament to the college’s close ties with the industry.

Tony was clearly impressed with the new BIMM, following his tour of the building: “I’d have loved something like BIMM where you get the opportunity to live your dreams. In my day, I had to teach myself, but now with all these facilities you can learn everything you need to know about the business.”

Tony was then invited to cut the ribbon – in front of an audience of BIMM Birmingham students and tutors – by Executive Principal Dara Kilkenny, who said a few words of thanks to all involved: “This building is where so much is going to happen. It’s a creative, exciting music environment, and will go on for a very long time. It will also rejuvenate the area. Tony Iommi is steeped in the history and heritage of this city, and we are thrilled he’s here to share this special occasion with us and to award the Tony Iommi Scholarship.”

Dara then invited James Atwood to come forward to receive his scholarship certificate. Tony then cut the black ribbon and declared BIMM Birmingham officially open. After raucous cheering and applause from the students, Tony gave them some final words of encouragement: “You can learn a lot here. Love what you do, stick with it and hopefully, some of you will be successful. I want to come back and see how you do. Good luck everyone.”

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