Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi Sitting on “Loads” of Riffs That He Wants to Record Properly

Queen's Brian May encouraged Iommi to release the riffs as an album

Tony Iommi

In a new interview, Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi said he’s sitting on “four or five CDs of riffs” that he would like to properly record. He even got encouragement from Queen guitarist Brian May, who suggested Iommi release the riffs as an album.

When asked about plans for new music or solo material, the metal godfather let on about his stockpile.

“Well, that’s the million-dollar question,” Iommi told Guitarist. “I’ve got loads of stuff. I keep saying to Ralph [Baker], my manager, ‘I want to put it down properly,’ but the engineer I’ve used for years, Mike Exeter, has gone on to do other things… I’d like to put some stuff down, but it won’t be a touring band. Actually, Brian May came over and I gave him four or five CDs of riffs, and he’s going, ‘You’ve got to do an album with these, just put them out like that.’ I said, ‘No, I don’t want to do that. I’m going to do them properly.’”

Iommi then hinted that he’d like to assemble guest musicians for such a project, similar to his 2000 solo album, Iommi, which featured high-profile collabs with Dave Grohl, Philip Anselmo, Billy Corgan, Ozzy Osbourne, and more. Iommi also revealed that he turned down a chance to work with upstart rappers Eminem and Kid Rock at the time, before they became household names.

“Yes, I’d like that,” he said of making another album with all-star guests. “I sort of did it with the Iommi album in 2000. I had Dave Grohl, Billy Corgan, and all sorts of people on it. Another two embarrassing things that I didn’t go for was one where they said, ‘This chap wants to do something. Eminem.’ ‘Who the bloody hell is Eminem?’ I didn’t know, and I went, ‘Oh, no.’ And Kid Rock. So I turned a few people down that became quite big later, but I hadn’t the faintest idea.”

The extensive interview comes after Gibson recreated a custom replica of Iommi’s legendary, highly customized SG Special — the “Monkey”.

The crux of Iommi’s legendary tone and aesthetic, the Monkey’s modifications allowed Iommi to compensate for the missing fingertips on his fret hand, caused by an industrial accident when he was 17. Iommi wears custom-made tips on his middle and ring finger, resulting in his signature guitar tone.

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“I’d always hear, ‘You can’t do that,’” Iommi said of his guitar mods. “Constantly. ‘Oh no, you can’t do that. 24-fret guitar, you can’t do that. It wouldn’t be harmonically right.’ ‘I’m using light-gauge strings.’ ‘You can’t do that.’ I can, I’ve done it. I’ve made my own set up, out of banjo strings first and dropped the gauge down. I eventually got Picato to make them, and then all the other companies caught on. But I constantly had to struggle with people saying, ‘You can’t do that.’ So I would find people to do it.”

He added: “But I’ve always had determination. I have to try and make something work and go against all these people who say, ‘You can’t do it.’ The same with my accident: they said, ‘You won’t be able to play any more.’ And I just wouldn’t accept that.”

Watch Gibson’s video introducing the Tony Iommi “Monkey” SG Special 1964 Replica below.



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