BLACK SABBATH bassist Geezer Butler recently spoke to Classic Rock Revisited about his new solo album, "Ohmwork", "The Osbournes" and the numerous lineup changes in SABBATH over the years, among other topics. Several excerpts from the interview follow:
Classic Rock Revisited: Rumor had it that your [new solo] album was going to be a jazz album and not a metal album. Is that true?
Geezer: "Up to a year ago, that is the way it was going to happen. I just decided to do a rock album instead of doing something too drastically different. We had about 40-50 songs written for it. It could have gone in any direction but the direction it went was right for this group of musicians."
Classic Rock Revisited: Listening to the power of these songs, I can’t image them ever being slow, keyboard-dominated tracks.
Geezer: "No, we had all kinds of different stuff written. We have a lot of songs laying in wait. The hardest part of this album was deciding what direction it was going to take. I thought about doing bits of everything on it but it would not have sounded right. We rehearsed about 16 tracks and the rock songs sounded best and were the easiest to do in the studio. I didn’t have too much time in the studio to get too intricate."
Classic Rock Revisited: Did you actually leave BLACK SABBATH before Ozzy Osbourne?
Geezer: "I didn’t really leave; I got fired. It was in 1977. The band was going through hard times and you could tell the band was on the verge of breaking up. It was clear that somebody had to go. Bill Ward came over to my house and told me, 'I've got some bad news. You're fired!' I was almost relieved at the time as there was such a terrible atmosphere in the band. About a month later, they called me up and said, 'Please come back.' I came back and then Ozzy left. He came back and we did one last album and the band fell apart."
Classic Rock Revisited: From talking to Bill myself, I have learned that he was very uncomfortable removing Ozzy from SABBATH — even though it had to happen.
Geezer: "It was really strange because we had all grown up together. It sounds corny but it was like losing a brother. You go through so much together and then suddenly they are gone. I think Tony Iommi was just desperate to get on with someone who was into the music. Tony was going to go with Ronnie James Dio with BLACK SABBATH or not."
Classic Rock Revisited: A lot of SABBATH fans really love "Heaven & Hell".
Geezer: "It was a great album. It did the band a world of good and it did Ozzy a world of good as well. He was in a really bad state at the time and he just couldn’t get himself together. He wasn’t turning up at the band rehearsals or the recording sessions or anything like that. On the last tour he kept disappearing on tour and he was always drunk. I think it turned out for the best for all of us."
Classic Rock Revisited: SABBATH has had a lot of line up changes throughout the years. Do you think that tarnished the image of BLACK SABBATH?
Geezer: I think it did in the '80s and '90s. People didn’t take it seriously at all. We got away with the Ronnie Dio thing but when Ian Gillan took over that was the end of it for me. I thought it was just a joke and I just totally left. When we got together with Gillan it was not supposed to be a BLACK SABBATH album. After we had done the album we gave it to Warner Brothers and they said they were going to put it out as a BLACK SABBATH album and we didn’t have a leg to stand on. I got really disillusioned with it and Gillan was really pissed off about it. That lasted one album and one tour and then that was it."
Read Geezer Butler's entire interview with Classic Rock Revisited at ClassicRockRevisited.com.