Greg Prato for Song Facts spoke with Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler, excerpts from the interview appear below.

Songfacts: What made you decide to write your autobiography at this point?

Geezer Butler: Tony [Iommi] had written his, Ozzy [Osbourne] had done his. I’ve always had it in mind to write one, to put it from my perspective, but never really had the time. And then the pandemic hit and I was stuck at home for a year or something. I was bored stiff – I couldn’t go out anywhere. And I thought, Well, if I’m going to write it, I’m going to sit down and write it while I’m stuck at home.

Initially, it was a memoir for my grandkids to read so they’d know where I grew up and that kind of thing. It was just a note to them, really, because when my parents passed away they left a big void. I always wished I’d asked my parents stuff – I sort of took them for granted and never really spoke to them about their lives – and it always made me sad that I didn’t really know that much about my parents. So I thought, I’m just going to write a note for my grandkids to let them know about my life.

And the longer the pandemic went on, the longer the book started becoming! Eventually, I showed it to Gloria, my wife, and she said, “Oh, this is really interesting. You should do it as a book and have it published.” She got on to the agents, they read it, they loved it and wanted to publish it.

Songfacts: Did you read Ozzy‘s, Tony‘s, or Ronnie James Dio‘s autobiographies?

Butler: I didn’t read Ronnie‘s. I think I got halfway through Tony‘s book. And I had Ozzy‘s book on Audible. I thought Tony‘s didn’t really sound much like him. That’s why I wanted to do my own book rather than get a ghostwriter. Some parts of [Iommi‘s book] just didn’t feel like it was him writing it, because I know him backwards. I just wanted me to do it rather than get a ghostwriter.

Songfacts: In the book, you are open about your struggles with depression. It seems like many musicians have depression.

Butler: It’s not something that people openly talk about, or they didn’t used to, anyway. I used to get it intermittently when I was much younger. I just thought, Everybody gets like this.

I used to go to doctors when it was getting really bad, and they used to say, “Go and have a couple of pints in the pub” or “take your dog for a walk and you’ll get over it.” They didn’t see that it was a medical condition. They just treated it like you get in a mood and you get out of it.

I used to get into really dark places. The only thing that could get me out of it was to write lyrics.

Songfacts: Also in the book, you are quite candid about your and the band’s drug use. Do you think drug use helped or hindered the creative process in Sabbath?

Butler: I think it originally helped, and then eventually it started getting in the way. That’s what finished off the first lineup in the late ’70s.

Songfacts: What Black Sabbath song seems most relevant to you today?

Butler: War Pigs, because it never goes away.

Songfacts: Was there ever any friction between you and Ozzy about lyric writing, or was it just understood that you wrote most of the lyrics and he would contribute from time to time?

Butler: He used to leave it up to me. It wasn’t until right at the end that I’d write lyrics and he was just so out of it that he wouldn’t even bother reading them. On the Never Say Die album, Bill Ward sang one of the songs [Swinging The Chain (here it below)] because Ozzy refused to sing it.

Songfacts: You mention in your book feeling relieved when Ronnie joined Sabbath and wrote lyrics. Did he then write the majority of the lyrics or did you continue to contribute?

Butler: He wrote practically all of them. I think there was only one or two that I wrote with him.

Songfacts: Which Ronnie-era Sabbath songs contained his best lyrics?

Butler: I really like the lyrics to Heaven And Hell.

Songfacts: I once interviewed Ronnie’s wife Wendy for a book about Rainbow [2016’s The Other Side of Rainbow], and she said the lyric from Heaven And Hell, “The world is full of kings and queens that blind your eyes and steal your dreams, it’s heaven and hell,” was about Ritchie Blackmore.

Butler: [Laughs] Probably.

Songfacts: Which song are you most proud of lyric-wise?

Butler: I like Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, ParanoidWar Pigs. I really like. A National Acrobat I like. Well, the first part, anyway. Supernaut.

Songfacts: Which Sabbath song is the most underrated?

Butler: Maybe Hand Of Doom. I like Bill’s whole drum track on it. It’s totally different to what anybody else was doing. The lyrics were about soldiers coming back from the Vietnam War. That’s what inspired me to write those lyrics.

We played an American Army base in Germany. It was a sort of halfway house when soldiers were coming back from Vietnam so they could face family life and ordinary life when they came back to America. They’d stop in Germany to decompress. They’d tell me these horrendous stories about being stuck in the mud in Vietnam and how many of them were on heroin.

Of course, they didn’t tell you that on the news. I just thought I’d write about that.

Songfacts: There has been talk in the press recently about Black Sabbath possibly playing one more show with Bill Ward on drums. Would you like to see this happen, and do you regret Bill not participating on The End tour?

Butler: We all regret it. It’s health-wise, really. It’s up to Bill. If he feels like he can do it, then we’ll do it.

Songfacts: So if Bill said he’d be up for it, all the other members would be on board?

Butler: If he can do it, yes. But it’s all down to him.

Read lots more at Song Facts.

For more Geezer, visit Order Into The Void: From Birth To Black Sabbath And Beyond on

3 Responses

  1. I completely understand that Ward has the most difficult part, as he is drumming, and that is probably the most physical instrument, in a band. However, Ward isn’t the only member with health difficulties, what about Ozzy?

  2. I feel the same Dana…..we obviously know Tony and Geez can still play…it’s the other two…glad I saw them in ’78…even though a little ‘ol band from Pasadena blew ’em outta’ the water…

  3. As much as I would love to see this, I really hope it doesn’t happen. There’s just way too much risk considering the health of everyone in the band but especially Bill and Ozzy. Who would want to possibly see Ozzy performing in a wheelchair? I saw Ozzy in 2018 in Cleveland & he was barely hanging on then. Although his voice wasn’t as bad as my namesake, it wasn’t very good. More than likely he would sound horrible because I don’t think he’d be able to lip sync which I definitely don’t want even if he could pull it off as good as Paul Stanley. It sucks and I’m probably going to have some folks disagree with me but I think if it was going to happen, it should’ve been 10-12 years ago when they said Ward wasn’t good enough to even record on the 13 album. If they decide to do it, the show should be free to prove it isn’t a money grab. For once it would be nice to see people not influenced by greed and just do something for the fans as a thank you even as bad s as the show would probably end up being if it happened.

Leave a Reply