ICYMI: Ozzy Osbourne revealed his greatest guitarist: The legacy of Tony Iommi

Why Ozzy Osbourne thinks Tony Iommi is the best guitarist he's ever worked with.
Uk Music Hall Of Fame, Alexandra Palace, London, Britain - 16 Nov 2005
Uk Music Hall Of Fame, Alexandra Palace, London, Britain - 16 Nov 2005 / Brian Rasic/GettyImages

Throughout his storied career, 2-time Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Ozzy Osbourne has shared the stage and studio with a roster of exceptional guitarists, from Randy Rhoads and Zakk Wylde to Jake E. Lee. Still, fans might wonder who he believes to be the best guitarist he has ever played with. Well, worry not, for there is an answer!

On his new podcast, The Madhouse Chronicles, co-hosted with Billy Morrison, guitarist for Billy Idol and Circus Diablo, Osbourne named his former Black Sabbath bandmate Tony Iommi as the top guitarist he’s worked with. "A band like Black Sabbath: we came from the streets and we knew our stuff," Osbourne stated, going on to elaborate on his assessment."Tony Iommi was and is the best f**king guitar player I've ever played with. It’s like the Beatles, they wouldn’t have been the same if any one of them had been replaced, or the Rolling Stones if Mick Jagger left."

Billy Morrison added that with iconic artists, "you can play the exact same notes" but still fail to capture their unique energy. Osbourne concurred, suggesting other guitarists might play the act, but Tony is the real deal: "I've played [Black Sabbath songs] 'Paranoid,' I've played 'Children of the Grave' and 'War Pigs' [with other guitarists]. They do the notes, but it's not the same."

Ozzy Osbourne critiques American guitarists

Ozzy further mentioned that "a lot of American guys play too fast," but "Tony Iommi, for whatever reason, is f**king great." Osbourne and Iommi were the driving forces behind Black Sabbath's vocals and guitar from 1968 to 1977, and again from 1997 until the band's disbandment in 2017. In 2022, the duo surprised fans with a performance at the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, UK.

That same year, Iommi played on two tracks for Osbourne’s solo album Patient Number 9, "Degradation Rules" and "No Escape From Now."

While hopes for another Black Sabbath reunion tour were high at one point, Osbourne retired from touring in 2023 due to health issues. However, his wife and manager Sharon Osbourne recently announced that plans are in motion for him to perform two final shows in Birmingham. In the meantime, Tony Iommi released a Black Sabbath box set featuring albums from the Tony Martin era, including a remix of the album "Forbidden." Iommi explained: "I was never happy with the guitar sound, and Cozy (Powell) was definitely never happy with the drum sound...I just felt that, without changing any of the songs, there was an opportunity to go back and bring out some of the sounds and make it more what people would expect Sabbath to sound like."

That particular collection, titled Anno Domini 1989–1995, was released on May 31 and includes remastered versions of "Cross Purposes," "Tyr," and "Headless Cross."