Geezer Butler rules out future gigs with Black Sabbath and explains retirement from touring in general

 Geezer Butler attends the Ozzy Osbourne and Corey Taylor special announcement press conference on May 12, 2016 in Hollywood, California
(Image credit: Tibrina Hobson/WireImage)

Never say die, as the Black Sabbath song and album goes… and never say never when it comes to reunions – just ask KISS and Mötley Crüe. Even Sabbath had a so-called 'final' gig with the original members billed as the 'Last Supper' back in 1999, that proved to be nothing of the kind. But bassist Geezer Butler seems very much resigned to being retired from playing live now, and his reasoning suggests he really means it.

Firstly, when it comes to Sabbath doing the odd show following the last gig of The End tour in Birmingham in 2017 there's the obstacle of the 73-year-old musician no longer speaking to singer Ozzy Osbourne

In Butler's new memoir Into The Void: From Birth to Black Sabbath, the bassist and Sabbath lyricist elaborated that, “Me and Ozzy are fine, it’s just that we’re both ruled by our wives.”

Butler explained to Ultimate Classic Rock that “We didn’t fall out,” Butler claimed, “it was the wives.” But there's clearly more to Geezer's decision to walk away from music than that.

“I don’t want to do anything anymore," he told Rolling Stone. And away from the relative luxury of touring with Sabbath, his experiences with his last band Deadland Ritual with Matt Sorum and Steve Stevens in 2018 soured his taste for touring.

"I didn’t realize how hard starting from scratch is, especially when you’re used to your own plane and staying at the Four Seasons and the Ritz Carlton … and then you’re back in little clubs and getting on a bus together,” he told Rolling Stone. “It just didn’t suit me.” 

Butler's last live appearance was an exceptional circumstance – playing SAbbath songs with Lars Ulrich and Sebastian Bach at the Taylor Hawkins memorial in LA, but he's reportedly still recording, and told Rolling Stone that he's recently sent Sorum a song he'd written. 

If he, Ozzy (and their respective wives Gloria and Sharon) did relent, any Sabbath action would still unlikely feature the original four members, with Tony Iommi and drummer Bill Ward. The latter walked away from the band in 2012 when he was offered what he called an "unsignable" contract.

 “Ozzy and Tony didn’t think he could do it physically,” Butler reflected with Rolling Stone. “And so the alternative was if he could come along and do maybe three or four songs and then do the rest with a different drummer. But Bill says, ‘No, it’s either the whole thing or nothing.’ And I totally understood and respected that.” 

In the book, Butler goes into more detail about the turmoil between Sabbath and Ward during a period that also saw Iommi being treated for cancer.

"We suggested to Bill that he come on tour and do a few songs a show, but Bill, proud bloke that he is, insisted it was all or nothing," he writes, part of an extended excerpt published by Rolling Stone. "I was upset that what should have been a triumphant return for the original lineup had turned into a bit of a soap opera — and ended up making it worse. While Bill was churning out public statements, Sharon was giving me her side of the story, including that Bill had refused to play a charity gig at Birmingham’s O2 Academy. Stupidly, I then put out a statement on the internet, including a line about Bill wanting money for said charity gig. I regret doing that, because I’d ended up doing the band’s dirty work. Worse, I’d betrayed Bill’s friendship by not believing his side of the story, which was that he’d actually agreed to do the charity gig for free."

Into The Void: From Birth To Black Sabbath… And Beyond by Geezer Butler is out now, published by HarperCollins. More info on Amazon

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.