GEEZER BUTLER On One Last BLACK SABBATH Reunion Show - “OZZY Has Been Texting Me About Doing One Final Show With BILL WARD, But It’s Just Not Going To Happen”

June 16, 2024, 3 weeks ago

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GEEZER BUTLER On One Last BLACK SABBATH Reunion Show - “OZZY Has Been Texting Me About Doing One Final Show With BILL WARD, But It’s Just Not Going To Happen”

BraveWords caught up with Black Sabbath bass legend Geezer Butler this past week and spoke about the paperback edition of his autobiography, Into The Void: From Birth To Black Sabbath-And Beyond, that is now available. During the conversation he addressed the possibilities of one final reunion show with all the original members of Black Sabbath. 

But let’s take a few steps back. Keep in mind, drummer Bill Ward wasn’t part of the band’s final tour, being replaced by Tommy Clufetos, which had some fans a bit heartbroken. As Butler explains, he still has no idea why Bill Ward was fired during the 13 recording sessions with Rick Rubin.

In the late ’60s, prior to joining Black Sabbath, Geezer Butler played rhythm guitar in the The Rare Breed. Tony Iommi didn’t want another guitar player, so Butler moved to bass. Hence him having a close relationship with Bill Ward.

Here are a few excerpts from our chat.

BraveWords: Talk to us about the rhythm section in Black Sabbath.

Butler: “Bill was the first drummer that I ever played bass with. Bill was the greatest person that you could possibly learn bass to and he really, really inspired my bass playing. The thing with Bill is he was a jazz drummer. His heroes were Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa. Those kind of people. So he was an out and out jazz person, and he brought a whole new swing to rock drumming. So it was great for me, because I was able to do all these jazz scales now. So it really helped me when I first picked up the bass.

BraveWords: For years the rumours all pointed at Bill Ward’s health and declining abilities. Any truth to that? I was a little bit heartbroken to see the final Black Sabbath tour without Bill playing the drums. But did you see his playing the decline. Was that the problem?

Butler: “I didn’t think it was his plan. I was surprised when I came back from holiday when we were doing the 13 album - the writing part of it. We all had a break from writing. Me and my wife went to Hawaii and when we came back we found out that Bill had been fired. And we were like ‘Why, what’s going on?’ To this day we still don’t have the answer to who fired Bill and why. There’s been rumours about his health and that kind of thing. I was listening to the 13 stuff we did with Bill on that album and I loved it. It really did sound like the old Sabbath. Like the first three albums, the drumming on it. I love that kind of thing. Maybe it was the producer…I don’t know. 

So we offered Bill to come on the tour and do two or three songs, and he said ‘No it’s either the whole thing or nothing.’ We just couldn’t have a world tour going on and have cancellations if something happened to Bill. So we had to get another drummer and that we knew would be there every night and didn’t have any health problems. I’m not saying that Bill would’ve had health problems, but we just couldn’t risk it. And he wasn’t willing to do two or three songs just to see how it went.”

BraveWords: Do you think that needs to be some closure, like let’s put a bow on this beautiful entity called Black Sabbath. One final show with the original lineup.

Butler: “Ozzy has been texting me about doing one final show with Bill and that’s it, but it’s just not going to happen. But I always said that the original Black Sabbath would never get back together. So you say these things hoping if a miracle happens, that would be great to do it. But but it’s up to everyone’s health, but I can’t see it happening. I’d love it to happen, even if it was one final song with the original four of us, with Bill on the drums. Even if it’s just one song.”

BraveWords: Would you like to see it take place back home in Birmingham?

Butler: “I’d love it too, but it certainly could never be a tour. It would only be one or two shows.”

Watch for the complete BraveWords interview with Geezer Butler in the coming days.

Hailed by Rolling Stone as “the Beatles of heavy metal” and ranked by MTV as the “Greatest Metal Band of All Time,” Black Sabbath not only dominated the genre - they helped create it. Founded in 1969, the band’s distinctive heavy riffs, tuned down guitars, and apocalyptic lyrics were a stark contrast to the era’s popular feel-good pop, upbeat Motown, and earnest folk music. Their ominous new sound struck a chord. To date, Black Sabbath has sold more than 70 million records worldwide.

In Into The Void: From Birth To Black Sabbath-And Beyond, now in trade paperback, Geezer Butler tells his side of the story - and the story of his life before and after the band’s rise to fame and notoriety. With honesty, Butler writes of his childhood in Luftwaffe-battered Birmingham, England, as one of seven in a working-class Irish Catholic family, and his disillusionment with organized religion and class systems in his late teens, which would influence the lyrics and artistic themes that made Black Sabbath a sensation. From his awakening to the power of music—and his bold decision to change his career path from accountant to bassist - Butler takes readers behind the scenes of Black Sabbath’s roots, rise, and struggles. Even longtime fans of the band are bound to learn something fresh and surprising as Geezer himself recounts:

• How in 1968 he formed the Polka Tulk Blues Band with guitarist Tony Iommi, drummer Bill Ward, and vocalist John “Ozzy” Osborne, and forged a revolutionary creative collaboration.

• The origin story of Black Sabbath. By 1969, Polka Tulk had become Earth, but kept getting mistaken for another group with the same name. Geezer suggested an original name, “Black Sabbath,” after one of their songs, which he co-wrote the lyrics for partly inspired by a nightmare of a black silhouetted figure standing at the foot of his bed.

• Notable appearances with Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, and The Who, and includes a groundbreaking dedication to creating the rock music equivalent of a horror film, with dark elements of the occult.

• The stories behind Black Sabbath’s biggest hits, including War Pigs,” “Iron Man,” and “Paranoid,” and important later years, culminating with their last studio album, reuniting three of the original members, and last live performance on February 4, 2017, in Birmingham.

Featuring 30 photos from Geezer’s personal collection - some never-before-published - "Into The Void" is both an effusive tribute to one of rock’s most exciting bands and an intimate memoir of a trailblazing musician.

Find order options here.

About the Author:

Terence Michael Joseph “Geezer” Butler, best known as the longtime bassist and main lyricist for Black Sabbath, is one of the most influential bassists in heavy metal and regarded as a “founding father” of the genre. In 2006, he reformed the “Dehumanizer”-era Black Sabbath with guitarist Tommy Iommi, vocalist Ronnie James Dio, and drummer Vinny Appice as Heaven & Hell. In 2017, he took a short hiatus from music to travel and write. In 2018, he joined the British- American rock band Deadline Ritual, composed of founder and drummer Matt Sorum (Guns N’ Roses), vocalist Franky Perez (Apocalyptica), and guitarist Steve Stevens (Billy Idol). A native of Aston Birmingham, England, he makes his home in Nevada and Utah with his wife Gloria Butler, who manages Geezer and co-managed Heaven & Hell. They live with their three cats and dogs.

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