In a new interview with Reader’s Digest, Black Sabbath founder and bassist, Geezer Butler, chats about heavy metal excess, his love for Birmingham’s Aston Villa football club, and finally finding peace. In the following excerpt, he discusses “Life After Black Sabbath”.
It was liberating to do my first solo album, Plastic Planet, in 1995:
“Tony (Iommi) had written most of the music in Black Sabbath, but now I could take the lead. It was brilliant when Tony, Ozzy (Osbourne), Bill (Ward) and I got back together for a proper Black Sabbath reunion in 1997, though. We’d performed and recorded as Sabbath with other singers, like Ian Gillan, but it wasn’t the same. We played at Milton Keynes Bowl, but Bill had had a heart attack and couldn’t join us. Instead, he introduced us. Tony decided to pull his shorts down – for fun. But Bill wasn’t wearing underwear and the crowd got quite an eyeful. Especially as Bill was very well endowed.”
Being perplexed at being called a legend:
“In the Nineties and Noughties, younger bass players in bands would come up and tell me I was their hero. It was odd, because I thought I was a pretty average guitarist. In the Seventies and Eighties, we thought everyone hated Black Sabbath. Now we had this reputation as the inventors of heavy metal. But in 2017, we broke up for good. Tony had been diagnosed with lymphoma and was absolutely knackered after each gig, and it just felt like the right time. Our final concert was in Birmingham, where it all started. I’d been sober since 2015, so I celebrated afterwards with, I think, a lemonade.”
Falling in love with Utah:
“I’ve still got a house in Warwickshire, but Gloria and I spend most of our time at our home in Utah, surrounded by incredible mountains. My grandchildren love to come here and ski, though I tried it once and really panicked.”
Learning to calm down a little:
“I’ve always been a worrier, but it doesn’t achieve much. I was in a rock band that sold millions of records. I’ve been married for 43 years. Biff [Butler’s eldest son] is now an award-winning video editor. James [Butler’s younger son] went to Oxford University. I’ve no idea what he does, but he’s very successful at it, too. I’ve taught myself to just be happy to be alive.”
Read the full feature at Reader’s Digest.
Geezer Butler’s new autobiography, Into The Void: From Birth To Black Sabbath – And Beyond was released on June 6 in North America via HarperCollins imprint, Dey Street Books.
Book description: A rollicking, effusive, and candid memoir by the heavy metal musician and founding member of Black Sabbath, covering his years as the band’s bassist and main lyricist through his later-career projects, and detailing how one of rock’s most influential bands formed and prevailed.
With over 70 million records sold, Black Sabbath, dubbed by Rolling Stone “the Beatles of heavy metal,” helped create the genre itself, with their distinctive heavy riffs, tuned down guitars, and apocalyptic lyrics. Bassist and primary lyricist Geezer Butler played a gigantic part in the band’s renown, from suggesting the band name to using his fascination with horror, religion, and the occult to compose the lyrics and build the foundation of heavy metal as we know it.
In Into the Void, Butler tells his side of the story, from the band’s beginnings as a scrappy blues quartet in Birmingham through the struggles leading to the many well-documented lineup changes while touring around London’s gritty clubs (Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, and The Who makes notable appearances!), and the band’s important later years. He writes honestly of his childhood in a working-class family of seven in Luftwaffe-battered Birmingham, his almost-life as an accountant, and how his disillusionment with organized religion and class systems would spawn the lyrics and artistic themes that would resonate so powerfully with fans around the world.
Into the Void reveals the softer side of the heavy metal legend and the formation of one of rock’s most exciting bands, while holding nothing back. Like Geezer’s bass lines, it is both original, dramatic, and forever surprising.
(Geezer Butler photo – Ross Halfin)