Tony Iommi is often considered one of the founders of the heavy metal genre, in addition to being one of the greatest guitarists of all time. As such, it’s rather understandable that a musician more suited towards the ‘meat and potatoes’ style of rock and roll would choose to turn down a collaboration with one of hip-hop’s biggest names, right?
Well, as the Black Sabbath guitarist has now revealed, that’s exactly what happened back in the late ’90s.
According to a new interview with Loudwire, the legendary rocker once turned down a pairing with hip-hop luminary Eminem. However, it wasn’t due to the conflicting styles of the respective artists, rather, it was because Iommi had no idea who Em was.
Tony Iommi’s debut solo record, Iommi, was released in 200 and contained a large number of big-name guest stars, including Dave Grohl, Black Flag’s Henry Rollins, Billy Idol, Pantera’s Phil Anselmo, The Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan, System Of A Down’s Serj Tankian, and the Prince of Darkness himself, Black Sabbath’s Ozzy Osbourne. But some other names didn’t quite make the cut.
“The idea of that [album] came up well before we actually did it. The original idea was to do an album with Robert Plant and the people more from my generation. And that fizzled out because of all the different things,” said Iommi.
“And when it came up again to do it with different vocalists and different musicians I thought it was great to be able to play with younger musicians and just see how everybody else would treat it. And I enjoyed doing that, it was good to play with different people and different drummers and different bass players and different singers.
“Again, it was a bit embarrassing as well sometimes,” he continued. “Bob Marlette was producing and we had a few people that applied to do it and one of them was Eminem. And I hadn’t got the faintest idea who Eminem was, to be honest.
“They said, ‘This guy Eminem wants to do a track.’ ‘Eminem? Who’s that?’ That’s what happens when you get old. And Kid Rock as well. But I didn’t know these people. And Kid Rock came down and done a bit. And we had a few other people which we never used.”
“But the ones I wanted to use were more in the vein of what I was doing,” Iommi concluded. “Dave Grohl was great, he’d done a great version. And he was so enthusiastic, he said ‘I wanna play drums as well.’ I said ‘Well, we’ve already got a drummer.’ ‘Yeah, but I want to play drums!’ Blimey…”
Of course, Tony Iommi’s solo record was released in October of 2000, just five months after Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP was released, shooting the rapper to worldwide fame.
Eminem’s record would go on to not only top the charts in countless countries around the world, but also win the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. Needless to say, if he didn’t know Eminem at the time, he did soon enough.
While we’d definitely be interested in hearing what a Tony Iommi and Eminem collaboration would have sounded like, we think that considering the positive reception Iommi received, it’s probably better left the way it was.