Geezer by name, Geezer by nature. Throughout his long and illustrious career, ex-Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler has always come across very well. A well-considered and interesting artist, like the rest of his ex-Sabbath buddies, he’s got more than his fair share of tales to tell.
Musically, he is one of the most influential bass players of all time. The former Metallica bassist, Jason Newstead, once called him his “number one influence” and said that “all true metal bassists look up to Geezer as a pioneer and godfather of our chosen instrument. The best, ever.” Other iconic bass players that have cited him as an impact include Les Claypool, Peter Steele, Cliff Burton and countless others.
One of the first bassists to de-tune his instrument, all the way down to C#, Butler’s rumbling basslines were the glue that held together Black Sabbath’s sludgy, satanic sound. In addition to this, he was also their chief lyricist during the Ozzy Osbourne fronted era.
Given that he was massively influenced by the works of Aleister Crowley as a teenager, Butler’s lyrics drew heavily upon his enchantment with religion, science-fiction, fantasy and horror. They constantly discussed the darkest facets of the human condition and were drenched in existential dread. It was the Cold War, after all.
Of his unerring influence, Billy Sheehan of the glam metal band Mr. Big, said: “He’s a founding father of a whole genre of music and a man who really set the bar early on to be such an integral part of the sound and song structure of Sabbath”.
Showing just how much of a legend he is, in 2015, Butler was arrested for having a drunken bar brawl with a Nazi in Death Valley, California. He said of the event, “This guy started mouthing off about something. He was, like, some drunken Nazi bloke. He started going on about Jews and everything – Jews this, Jews that. My missus is Jewish and I’d just had enough, and me hand sort of met his chin. I whacked him one.”
Given that Butler is a man of unparalleled stature in the world of all things hard-rocking, there can be no surprise that his opinion is considered a weighty one. Black Sabbath definitively split back in 2017, and in 2018, he joined the ‘supergroup’ Deadland Ritual. Featuring Franky Perez, Matt Sorum, Steve Stevens and Butler, these hard-rocking titans were a short-lived project splitting up in March 2021 after releasing only two singles.
In 2018, Butler spoke to Metal Hammer and discussed Deadland Ritual, also explaining why he cannot stand the label ‘supergroup’. He said: “I absolutely hate that term. It can only be super if you proved yourself, and we haven’t proved ourselves yet. We’re just some friends that have written some songs and are looking forward to getting out on the road.”
Always the one for self-awareness, in terms of his comments, you have to agree with Butler. He’s got a point. Fans love throwing the ‘supergroup’ label around, even when band’s don’t deserve it. Often, these dream lineups tend to be a terrible idea for everywhere involved and become a stain on their otherwise celebrated career. The Travelling Wilburys, anyone?
Listen to ‘Broken and Bruised’ by Deadland Ritual below.