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Tony Iommi: “One of my rock gods is Brian May… He's got a certain character that you didn't hear from anybody else”

Tony Iommi and Brian May
(Image credit: Frazer Harrison / YELIM LEE / Getty)

Tony Iommi has named Brian May as one of his personal ‘rock gods’, saying “we’ve had a great friendship over the years.”

The metal icon recently released his first new solo material in eight years, Scent of Dark and made the remarks in an appearance on the Rock Gods segment of BBC Radio 2’s Rock Show with DJ Johnnie Walker. 

“One of my rock gods is definitely Brian May,” Iommi told listeners. “His sort of sound and style really stood out to me when I heard the first Queen album, really… 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.”

The guitarist admitted he could no longer recall the nature of their first meeting in the early '70s, but says they quickly became firm friends. 

"We had a very close connection and we used to talk to each other at all hours of the night, you know, in the early days,” revealed Iommi. “Now I'm in bed! But in them days, if he knew I was in the studio in London, he'd come over.”

Even as their lifestyles have become a little less excessive with age, Iommi says the two still get together to play.

“We've jammed a few times. 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 [2000] solo album [Iommi] a couple of times… 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 always playing. And when he comes to my house, I've always got a guitar there for him so we can have a little play.”

Here’s the pair’s collaboration on Goodbye Lament from the (rather underrated) 2000 Iommi album, which also features Dave Grohl. 

The sense of admiration is mutual, and both Iommi and May have previously discussed the chances of a more in-depth collaboration. 

“I think there is a chance [of more],” May told Total Guitar last year. “We do more talking than anything else, but we do a lot of talking. 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 humour.”

On the subject of collaborations, Iommi also recently revealed that he contributed an entire track to Ozzy Osbourne‘s forthcoming solo album.

Matt Parker

Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.