Brian May Should Be Called The Godfather Of Grunge Sound Not Tony Iommi, Nuno Bettencourt Explains

Nuno Bettencourt advocated for Brian May’s influence on the grunge sound during a recent discussion with Rick Beato on YouTube, challenging the conventional attribution to Tony Iommi.

During the live chat, the guitarist reflected on an often-overlooked aspect of rock history. While discussing Queen’s ‘A Night at the Opera,’ he pinpointed ‘Death on Two Legs’ as a seminal moment in the evolution of grunge. He explained:

“The loudest Brian May solo to me, and if you got to go and check it out, it’s on the ‘A Night at the Opera’ album. There’s a lot of stuff earlier on, but ‘A Night at the Opera’ album, specifically ‘Death on Two Legs,’ a song, and it comes in, and he’s playing the riff; that’s like the first time, I think… I really heard like…I feel like the whole Seattle Alice In Chains sound was created when he goes [mimicking May’s playing], and I was like, ‘Wait a second. He’s tuned down. What is happening here?'”

Reevaluating The Grunge Godfather

The conversation then shifted towards the widely held belief that Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi was the godfather of grunge. Bettencourt respectfully disagreed, pointing to May’s innovative guitar tuning and playing style as underappreciated influences on the genre. The musician noted:

“People always equate Tony Iommi, as far as you know, to the godfather of grunge and whatever it may be, but I’m sorry. That’s here in a safe place. In a deeper place, like even with King’s X and some of the song stuff, that D-tune stuff, Brian, I think, was doing that, and nobody really talked about it. You go listen to ‘Death on Two Legs’ or other songs, or even when he did ‘Fat Bottomed Girls.'”

Black Sabbath’s Indirect Influence And Brian May’s Grunge Connection

It’s assumed that Black Sabbath’s ‘Master of Reality’ was one of the albums that played a crucial role in shaping grunge’s sound. This album’s influence pervaded the genre, inspiring the heavy, blues-inflected styles of pivotal bands. The Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan once credited the album with spawning grunge, highlighting its widespread impact.

Reflecting on his experiences in Seattle during the rise of the grunge movement, Brian May expressed admiration for the genre and its artists, particularly Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain. May’s encounters in Seattle left him appreciating the city’s vibrant community and artistic expressions, including graffiti that reminded him of the psychedelic era.

Watch Nuno’s full interview with Beato below.