"It's basic. It's not technical by any means": Watch Brian May solo while Tony Iommi plays the riff from Paranoid

 Brian May and Tony Iommi jamming.
Brian May and Tony Iommi jamming.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Back in November, Sky Arts launched Greatest Guitar Riffs, a three-part documentary series that told the stories of some of the most famous riffs in musical history.

The musicians who starred in the series included The Police’s Andy Summers, Heart’s Nancy Wilson and Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi, and now footage has emerged of the latter jamming with Queen's Brian May as the pair discuss Iommi's iconic riff from the 1970 classic Paranoid.

In the clip, which was uploaded to YouTube by our sister publication Guitar World, the two musicians jam together, with Iommi playing the Paranoid intro on a Gibson SG replica before May – who prefaces his contribution by announcing, "I'm going to commit sacrilege by joining in" – embellishes the riff with a solo on his Red Special.

Iommi also tells May the story of the son's creation, saying, that producer Rodger Bain had told the band that they needed one more song to complete the album, prompting Iommi to come up with Paranoid on the spot.

“The others had gone out to have something to eat," says Iommi. "I came up with this riff, so when they got back I played them this idea of Paranoid. It’s basic. It’s not technical by any means. What I’ve always done is, not try and play anything that’s flash. I play things that I think is right for the song."

Sky Arts also ran a poll to accompany the Greatest Guitar Riffs series, in which viewers were asked to name the greatest guitar riff of all time. Slash's iconic intro to Guns N' Roses' Sweet Child O' Mine was voted as the best riff ever, followed by Prince’s Purple Rain and Dire Straits' Sultans Of Swing, which is kinda weird given that the latter two are much more renowned for their solos rather than their riffs. But hey, that's the internet for you. Paranoid placed at #21 in the poll.

Earlier this week, Tony Iommi posted a New Year message to fans, promising a long-awaited archive release from the band in spring and detailing other future projects.

Greatest Guitar Riffs is available to stream via NOW TV.