BLACK SABBATH's Geezer Butler: "I Wanted To Be A BEATLE"
March 30, 2007, 16 years ago
The Asbury Press has issued the following report from Mark Voger:
Things were pretty black in BLACK SABBATH.
So much so that in 1979, the band fired it's singer. OZZY OSBOURNE was booted out by guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward. His replacement, RONNIE JAMES DIO, recorded two studio albums with the band, Heaven And Hell (1979) and Mob Rules (1981), with drummer Vinny Appice replacing Ward on the latter.
Osbourne and Black Sabbath have since mended their fences - Sabbath has often headlined the annual OZZFest tour - but there is still nostalgia for the Dio era Sabbath.
And so, Dio, Iommi, Butler and Appice (in for Ward once again, a quarter century later!) are touring, though not billed as "Black Sabbath." The musicians have cleverly christened themselves HEAVEN AND HELL.
Butler was asked if it was a tough decision to fire Osbourne following the recording of 1978's ironically titled Never Say Die."Of course it was tough," Butler said in his Birmingham growl. "You didn't ever think it would ever come to that. But Ozzy was in a really bad way, health-wise. Addictions were just, like, takin' over him.
"He wasn't into the band any more. When we started rehearsals for that particular album, he didn't turn up for about four weeks. So, you know, we knew that he wasn't into it. And he'd already left once. We couldn't afford for him to leave again, kind-of-thing. So we made the decision that he had to go."
But Dio and Appice quit Sabbath following the release of Live Evil (1982), to be replaced by singer Ian Gillan (himself fired from DEEP PURPLE) and Ward. Butler stayed with the band for one more album, 1983's Born Again.
In the '90s, Butler formed a metal-rap band, GZR, which released three albums."I hadn't written lyrics for years, so I needed to get all that stuff off me chest," said Butler, who was Sabbath's chief lyricist.
"I just sort of let loose on the first album (1995's Plastic Planet), because I just really wanted to do a heavy album. I liked Burt's (Burton C. Bell's) voice, from FEAR FACTORY. We just got together to see how it would go. I really liked the stuff we did together, so I decided to go ahead and record it.
"The second album (1997's Black Science), I was disappointed with, because I was tryin' to be a bit more ambitious, but do it quickly. It just didn't work out the way I wanted it to. There's a lot more keyboards on the second album and a lot of ideas that I had in me head, but I couldn't quite communicate to the engineer at that time."
Butler called GZR's third album, 2005's Ohmwork, a "mixture of everything from very melodic to very heavy. Just loads of different styles."
For Butler, the initial inspiration to become a musician is easy to express."I wanted to be a Beatle," he said with a chuckle.
"When The Beatles came along, it totally inspired me. Because up until then, me brothers used to like Elvis (Presley); me sister liked a lot of the English imitators of Elvis, like Cliff Richard and all that. None of them really appealed to me. So there was nothing for my generation until The Beatles came along. I started to get interested in music.
"And then when they made it in America, it proved that working-class English people could get together and make music that everybody wants to hear. The big ambition then was to make it in America. The Beatles were the first English band to ever make it in the States. So they proved that it could be done. That opened the gates for all loads of English bands.
"Because at the time in England, it seemed like a lot of the English bands would be around for like a year or two, and then they'd split up. So being able to go over to America would open a whole new career for you. It changed me life."