Friday, July 22, 2011


Geezer Butler
Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler celebrated his 62nd birthday over the weekend.

Butler has long enjoyed legendary status as one of the founders of heavy metal and the man responsible for naming Sabbath, while taking bass to new places in his 40-plus year career. Constant talk of a Sabbath reunion exists, and Geezer was straight up about the prospects of it happening in a new interview with For Bass Players Only’s Jon Liebman. “No idea,” said Butler.

In other words, nothing has really changed since Geezer’s statement in February of this year, which reads: “I would like to make it clear, because of mounting speculation and rumors, that there will be definitely NO reunion of all four original members of Black Sabbath, whether to record an album or to tour.”

But that doesn’t mean he’s idly sitting around, either, waiting for the Sabbath thing to happen. “I have been writing songs for a possible G//Z/R album and slowly compiling memoirs – what I can recall of them,” says Geezer. “I’m hoping to have the book out in 2012, but it is very slow going. An album, maybe in 2012, is also a possibility.”

Meanwhile, FBPO spoke with Butler about his musical upbringing. “I had absolutely no formal musical education,” Geezer began. “I suppose my earliest musical experience happened when I was about 7 or 8 years old. Skiffle was big in England at the time and the bass players would make basses out of a tea chest, a broomstick and string. I had a toolkit for Christmas, so I made a “guitar” from two pieces of wood, nails and rubber bands.”

“My first real guitar was an acoustic, bought from a kid at school when I was 11,” he continued. “It had two strings and cost ten shillings (about 50 pence or seventy-five cents). I used to play Beatles vocal melodies on it, no chords. Eventually, my brother saw how serious I was about learning to play and he bought me a new guitar, complete with six strings, for eight pounds (about twelve dollars), when I was 13.“I learned to play chords, mainly Beatles songs, with the help of Bert Weedon’s Play In A Day book.”

By this time, Geezer was ready to explore musical horizons with others. “I formed a group with some schoolmates and we called ourselves The Ruums. I eventually bought an electric guitar, a Hofner Colorama, and an amp, a Selmer. We played a few birthday parties and a wedding. The guitarist, Roger “Dope” Hope, and I wanted to get serious about the band, so we replaced the drummer and bass player, recruited a vocalist and started playing heavier, blues-orientated stuff and changed the name to The Rare Breed. We played around Birmingham at proper gigs, but we were never asked back because of our outlandish (for then) stage act. We were so desperate for gigs we temporarily changed the name to The Future, but when we turned up at gigs, the promoter would recognize us and refuse to let us play. Finally, the singer left to be replaced by Ozzy. We did one or two gigs, then disbanded.”

So, how did Butler decide to take up bass duties after being a guitarist? “I chose to switch to bass from rhythm guitar when I got together with the band which would eventually become Black Sabbath,” recalls Geezer. “Rhythm guitarists were superfluous at that time in the genre we were playing. Cream and Hendrix had pioneered the guitar/bass/drums lineup and that was the style I wanted to play in.”

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