Tony Iommi says he has “four or five hundred” unused riffs on his phone

Tony Iommi
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tony Iommi is responsible for some of the most influential heavy metal riffs ever written. But he's got plenty more in the tank, apparently.

In a new interview with Neil Jones of Planet Rock (transcribed by Blabbermouth), the Black Sabbath veteran reveals that he's got around “four or five hundred” riff ideas recorded on his phone.

“I've got so much stuff, I just wanna get started on getting it together now,” he says. “It's getting around to doing it – that's the thing... The pandemic put a bit of a block on it, really.

“I was working it out and the engineer was coming over and we were getting through some things. But then when that happened and you couldn't have anybody in the house or in the studio, it put the kibosh on that for a bit. And then I started getting involved in other stuff. And it's just kicking back on again. I've got to get back into getting these things down properly.”

Jones follows up by recalling the story of Kirk Hammett losing a phone that contained 300 riff ideas during the recording of Metallica's most recent album, Hardwired... to Self-Destruct, to which Iommi responds: “I heard that. That must be awful. Somebody will nick my phone now. [laughs]”

See more

Hammett later conceded that the lost riffs probably weren't that good after all.

“What I do now when I write something, if I can’t actually remember it just by picking up my guitar, it’s probably not that good,” Hammett said back in 2017.

While it remains to be seen whether any riffs from Iommi's vast collection will ever surface, the guitarist has been pretty busy as of late.

Earlier this month, Iommi revealed that he's written a song for Ozzy Osbourne's upcoming album.

And last month, he released his first new music in eight years, Scent of Darkaccompanied, bizarrely, by his own fragrance.

On why he felt the world was ready to smell like Tony Iommi, the guitarist explained: “It's something I've always been interested in, ever since the early days of products like Brut and Old Spice, which I'd always get given from Christmas. Once I started touring the world with Sabbath though, I started discovering different sorts of fragrances from other countries and began collecting them.”

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Sam Roche

Sam was Staff Writer at from 2019 to 2023, and also created content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar.