BLACK SABBATH guitarist Tony Iommi was the featured guest on BBC‘s “The Rock Show With Johnnie Walker” during the “Rock God” segment. Tony picked QUEEN guitarist Brian May and stated about his choice (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “His sort of sound and style really stood out to me when I heard the first QUEEN album, really. When I heard that album, [I thought], ‘This is a really good band.’ And a guitar player is always into other guitar players, and he [had] a sort of unique sound and the way that he played, I just liked it. It was appealing. He’s just got a certain character that you didn’t really hear from anybody else; he’s got something very ‘him.’ And as soon as you hear Brian now, anybody can pick him out.
“It was in the early ’70s we first met,” he continued. “I don’t know if it was in the studio. I actually can’t remember. Does he know where we first met? We had a very fast connection and we used to talk to each other at all hours of the night in the early days. Now I’m in bed, but in them days, if he knew I was in the studio in London, he’d come over.
“We’ve jammed a few times,” Tony added. “He’s come up on stage and played with me and we’ve done some album stuff together on different people’s albums. He played on my solo album a couple of times. We had a jam session once. He came down to one of our rehearsals, when we were rehearsing in London, and we started playing with the band and the band gradually left, and Brian and myself were were just left playing there. All the gear had gone except for our gear, and we were still playing. [Laughs]
“Yeah, so we’ve had a great friendship over the years. But the thing is with him, he loves his guitar — he’s always got his guitar with him and he’s playing. And when he comes to my house, I’ve always got a guitar there for him so we can have a little play.”
A year and a half ago, Brian told Guitar World magazine that there was still “a chance” that his much-rumored collaboration with Iommi would see the light of day. “We do more talking than anything else, but we do a lot of talking,” Brian said. “He is really my dearest friend in the business and has been for so many years. I could write books about Tony because he’s just the most [pauses]… I don’t even know how to put it into words. You know, he’s a luminous human being is Tony, with a wonderful, kind nature and an incredibly baffling sense of humor. And, of course, he is the father of heavy metal. He did that. He made that happen. And it’s from his fingers and his mind. That young ex-welder, he made that happen. So, you know, he forever wears that medal, I think. He founded this stuff, heavy metal, in my opinion. I mean, I think probably most people would agree.”
Back in 2013, Iommi told the Birmingham Mail that he was discussing a possible collaboration with May. The idea of working together came about when Iommi and May met up shortly after the BLACK SABBATH guitarist was diagnosed with cancer.
“When I was first ill, Brian May came to visit me at my house in Lapworth,” Iommi said. “I played him some of my stuff, rock riffs that I’d never quite got round to developing, or decided not to use. He said I ought to do something with them.
“It’s early days yet, and all my attention in on SABBATH for the foreseeable future, but we may well find some way of working together on them, and making them available in some shape or form.
“One of the ideas we had is that we could make the riffs available, get fans to use them in songs of their own, and see what they come up with. That way they’d effectively be recording with Brian and myself.”
May elaborated on the idea: “I heard some of the hours of unreleased guitar jams Tony has on tapes and hard drives. I thought it would be great to make a compilation out of them. The idea was to put all these riffs out in some form so that people could build their own songs from them. You could make your own music with Tony Iommi on guitar. How great is that?”
In 2019, Tony said he “found” about 500 riffs while spending time with Brian.
SABBATH completed its last major tour in February 2017 with two shows in Birmingham, closing out the quartet’s groundbreaking 49-year career.
The trek was the band’s last because Iommi, who was diagnosed with cancer in late 2011 and is currently in remission, can no longer travel for extended amounts of time. But he has said he would not rule out special events or one-off shows.