Brian May on Black Sabbath

Back when Black Sabbath was inducted into the UK Hallf of Fame, they were introduced by Brian May of Queen. Brian is a long time friend of Tony Iommi’s, and Brian is the only other guitarist to ever appear on a Black Sabbath record (Brian does the guitar solo on When Death Calls from 1989’s Headless Cross). Brian gave a really nice introduction speech for the ceremony, which touched on the entire history of the band, not just Ozzy / Tony / Geezer / Bill. With permission from Brian, here’s the text of his speech, as it appeared on his notes:

Around 1964 if you had been around Aston, near Birmingham of an evening you might have ambled into a pub or a club and seen the Rockin’ Chevrolets, The Rest, or Rare Breed,
These groups contained various combinations of players, including William Ward, John Osborne, Anthony Iommi, and Terence Butler, all young kids playing on a semi-pro basis, picking up maybe a fiver a night for their efforts.
Somewhere along the line they all decided to give up their day jobs and pitch in to the Great Rock world full time. Tony’s accident on the last day of his work in his factory job, losing the ends of two of his fingers could have stalled a weaker man, but for Tony and the band, it hardened the determination. . …
The group went through many incarnations after this, with different names, up to 1968. Not names which most of us remember, but you would if you had been there ! You would have seen a willowy singer wailing in a way that made the kids parents despair. A dark moustachioed guitarist thrashing out huge original riffs and blinding metal solos. A drummer who hit the kit hard enough to make people scared, a thunderous bass player who growled from beneath furled brows. And a group abandoning the standards of the day and creating their own unique style. Somewhere in 1969 this group of young lads had a vision of what their band would one day symbolise to millions of kids around the world. They named themselves a symbol of unorthodoxy, anger, mystery, and raw power. They called themselves Black Sabbath !!
Sabbath History is peppered with drama and constant change … Ozzy left the group for periods in which he created brilliant solo work with his Blizzard of Oz, alongside Randy Rhodes and others….
Bill Ward ‘retired’ at times to pursue his private life,
Geezer Butler at times resigned to write and produce independently …
And all the while Tony Iommi kept the Black Sabbath ethos intact, enlisting many a now legendary player to keep the flame burning … Ronnie James Dio, Tony Martin, Glenn Hughes, Cozy Powell, Eric Singer, Neil Murray, Ian Gillan … all these great artists have lent something to the monolith which is Black Sabbath.
But whenever the planets are suitably aligned the Original Sabbath line up storms back together, and the earth truly moves, as it’s about to do tonight.
These men invented Heavy Metal. Together or apart, for more than 40 years, they have pursued it without compromise. Black Sabbath have struck more unforgettable riffs into the hearts of men than any group on the planet; They are the model, the living primal seed …. and a whole genre of young Rock groups today acknowledge their debt, and pay their respects. This monumental Rock Group of the People are more than worthy of induction into ANY Hall of Fame. Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s a great pleasure and a great honour for me to recognise this day ….. Black Sabbath.
…. Bill Ward, Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi and Ozzy Osborne… Black Sabbath !!!