Geezer Butler

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Geezer Butler
GeezerHeavenAndHell .jpg
Geezer Butler performing with Heaven & Hell in 2007.
Background information
Birth nameTerence Michael Joseph Butler
Also known asGeezer
Born (1949-07-17) 17 July 1949 (age 70)
Aston, Birmingham, England
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Musician
  • songwriter
Instruments
Years active1967–present
Labels
Associated acts
Website www.geezerbutler.com

Terence Michael Joseph "Geezer" Butler (born 17 July 1949) is an English musician and songwriter. Butler is best known as the bassist [1] and primary lyricist of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath. He has also recorded and performed with Heaven & Hell, GZR, and Ozzy Osbourne. He currently serves as bassist of Deadland Ritual.

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

Black Sabbath British heavy metal band

Black Sabbath were an English rock band, formed in Birmingham in 1968, by guitarist and main songwriter Tony Iommi, drummer Bill Ward, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler and singer Ozzy Osbourne. Black Sabbath are often cited as pioneers of heavy metal music. The band helped define the genre with releases such as Black Sabbath (1970), Paranoid (1970), and Master of Reality (1971). The band had multiple line-up changes, with Iommi being the only constant member throughout its history.

Heaven & Hell (band) American band

Heaven & Hell were an English-American heavy metal band active from 2006 to 2010. The band was a collaboration featuring Black Sabbath founding members Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler along with former Black Sabbath and Dio members Ronnie James Dio and Vinny Appice.

Contents

Biography

Butler received the nickname "Geezer" at approximately age eight, because he "used to call everybody Geezer" at school. "It was just a slang term for a man." [2]

Butler grew up in a working-class [3] Irish Catholic family [4] and was heavily influenced by the writing of Aleister Crowley as a teenager. [4] Butler formed his first band, Rare Breed, in the autumn of 1967, with John "Ozzy" Osbourne soon joining as lead vocalist. Butler dated a girl who lived near Tony Iommi, and Iommi's earliest memories of Butler involved seeing him walking past his house in Birmingham quite often to visit her. Later, Iommi and Butler became acquainted when their bands played at a nearby nightclub. [4] Separated for a time, Osbourne and Butler reunited in the blues foursome, Polka Tulk, along with guitarist Iommi and drummer Bill Ward. They renamed their band Earth, but because a band already existed in the small-time English circuit with the same name, they soon changed the name again to Black Sabbath in early 1969. [5]

Aleister Crowley English poet, mountaineer, and occultist

Aleister Crowley was an English occultist, ceremonial magician, poet, painter, novelist, and mountaineer. He founded the religion of Thelema, identifying himself as the prophet entrusted with guiding humanity into the Æon of Horus in the early 20th century. A prolific writer, he published widely over the course of his life.

Ozzy Osbourne English heavy metal vocalist and songwriter

John Michael "Ozzy" Osbourne is an English singer, songwriter, actor and reality television star who rose to prominence during the 1970s as the lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath, during which he adopted the nickname "The Prince of Darkness". Osbourne was fired from the band in 1979 due to alcohol and drug problems, but went on to have a successful solo career, releasing eleven studio albums, the first seven of which were all awarded multi-platinum certifications in the United States. Osbourne has since reunited with Black Sabbath on several occasions. He rejoined the band in 1997 and helped record the group’s final studio album 13 (2013) before they embarked on a farewell tour which culminated in a final performance in their home city, Birmingham, England, in February 2017. His longevity and success have earned him the informal title of "Godfather of Heavy Metal".

Tony Iommi British guitarist

Anthony Frank Iommi is an English guitarist, songwriter and producer. He was lead guitarist and one of the four founding members of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath. He was the band's primary composer and sole continual member for nearly five decades.

Geezer Butler in 1970 Geezer1970.jpg
Geezer Butler in 1970

Inspired by John Lennon, Butler played rhythm guitar in his pre-Sabbath days, including with Rare Breed. When Sabbath was formed, Iommi made it clear that he did not want to play with another guitarist, so Butler moved to bass. [6] Butler lists Jack Bruce of Cream as his biggest influence as a bassist. Iommi described Butler as being "from another planet" in the band's early days; he took LSD, wore Indian hippie dresses, and was very peaceful. [4] At the time Black Sabbath was formed, Butler was studying to become an accountant, and this training resulted in him managing the band's finances in the early days. [4]

John Lennon English singer and songwriter, founding member of The Beatles

John Winston Ono Lennon was an English singer, songwriter and peace activist who co-founded the Beatles, the most commercially successful band in the history of popular music. He and fellow member Paul McCartney formed a much-celebrated songwriting partnership. Along with George Harrison and Ringo Starr, the group achieved worldwide fame during the 1960s. In 1969, Lennon started the Plastic Ono Band with his second wife, Yoko Ono, and he continued to pursue a solo career following the Beatles' break-up in April 1970.

Jack Bruce Scottish musician, bassist of Cream

John Symon Asher Bruce was a Scottish musician, singer and songwriter known primarily for his contributions to the British supergroup Cream, which also included the guitarist-singer Eric Clapton and the drummer Ginger Baker. In March 2011 Rolling Stone readers selected him as the eighth greatest bass guitarist of all time. "Most musicians would have a very hard time distinguishing themselves if they wound up in a band with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker," the magazine said at the time, "but Jack Bruce was so gifted on the bass that he did it with ease."

Cream (band) 1960s British rock supergroup

Cream were a British rock band formed in London in 1966. The group consisted of lead vocalist/bassist Jack Bruce, guitarist/vocalist Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker. The group's third album, Wheels of Fire (1968), is the world's first platinum-selling double album. The band is widely regarded as the world's first successful supergroup. In their career, they sold more than 15 million records worldwide. Their music included songs based on traditional blues such as "Crossroads" and "Spoonful", and modern blues such as "Born Under a Bad Sign", as well as more current material such as "Strange Brew", "Tales of Brave Ulysses" and "Toad".

Butler briefly left Black Sabbath during the recording of their 1980 album Heaven and Hell as he dealt with the divorce from his first wife. The album was actually recorded with bassist Craig Gruber but Butler returned to the band at the last minute and re-recorded the bass parts prior to release. [7] He again left the band in 1984 after touring in support of their 1983 album, Born Again , though he returned months later as the band attempted a comeback with vocalist David Donato. In 1988 he joined his former Sabbath bandmate Osbourne to take part in the No Rest for the Wicked World Tour. Butler re-joined Black Sabbath in 1991 for the reunion of the Mob Rules line-up, but again quit the group after the Cross Purposes tour in 1994. [5]

<i>Heaven and Hell</i> (Black Sabbath album) 1980 studio album by Black Sabbath

Heaven and Hell is the ninth studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, released on 25 April 1980. It is the first Black Sabbath album to feature vocalist Ronnie James Dio, who replaced original vocalist Ozzy Osbourne in 1979.

Craig M. Gruber was an American rock bassist, best known as the original bassist in Rainbow and most recently was a member for the band Zvekan. He also played in Elf, consisting of vocalist Ronnie James Dio, keyboardist Mickey Lee Soule, drummer Gary Driscoll and guitarist David Feinstein.

<i>Born Again</i> (Black Sabbath album) 1983 studio album by Black Sabbath

Born Again is the eleventh studio album by English heavy metal band Black Sabbath. Released in August of 1983, it is the first and only album the group recorded with lead vocalist Ian Gillan, best known for his work with Deep Purple. It was also the last Black Sabbath album for nine years to feature original bassist Geezer Butler and the last to feature original drummer Bill Ward, though Ward did record a studio track with the band fifteen years later on their 1998 live album Reunion. The album has received mixed reviews from critics, and was a commercial success upon its 1983 release, reaching No. 4 in the UK charts. The album also hit the top 40 in the United States.

In 1995 Butler joined with Osbourne to play on the Ozzmosis album. [8] After recording Ozzmosis, he formed G/Z/R, issuing Plastic Planet in 1995. [9] His next solo album, Black Science, followed in 1997. Butler returned to Sabbath once more for the 1997 edition of Ozzfest, and has remained with the band since. In 2005 he released Ohmwork , his third solo album. In October 2006 it was announced that Butler, along with Tony Iommi, would be reforming the Dehumanizer -era Black Sabbath line-up with Vinny Appice and Ronnie James Dio, under the name Heaven & Hell to differentiate between the reunited touring band fronted by Osbourne, and the current Sabbath line-up. [10] He recorded and toured for the album "13" (2013) and the subsequent tour, reaching an end for the final tour in 2017.

<i>Ozzmosis</i> 1995 studio album by Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzmosis is the seventh solo studio album by English heavy metal musician Ozzy Osbourne. Recorded in Paris and New York with producer Michael Beinhorn, it was released on 23 October 1995 by Epic Records. The album reached number 22 on the UK Albums Chart and number four on the US Billboard 200. "Perry Mason", "See You on the Other Side" and "I Just Want You" were released as singles.

Ozzfest is an annual festival tour of the United States and sometimes Europe featuring performances by many heavy metal and hard rock musical groups. It was founded by Ozzy Osbourne and his wife Sharon Osbourne, both of whom also organise each yearly tour with their son Jack Osbourne. The Ozzfest tour has featured bands of a variety of genres within heavy metal and hard rock, including alternative metal, thrash metal, industrial metal, metalcore, hardcore punk, deathcore, nu metal, death metal, post-hardcore, gothic metal and black metal. Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath have played the tour several times over the years.

<i>Ohmwork</i> 2005 studio album by GZR

Ohmwork is the third studio album by GZR. It was originally released on May 10, 2005 in the United States and on May 9, 2005 in the United Kingdom. The artwork was done by Lawrence Azarad of LAdesign.

Personal life

Butler is married to Gloria Butler, who managed Heaven & Hell. He also shares his Los Angeles home with several cats, of whom he has posted pictures on his website. [11] His son, Biff Butler, was the frontman in the nu metal band Apartment 26. Butler's other son James is a graduate of Oxford and resides in London.

Butler is a lifelong supporter of Aston Villa Football Club, and during Black Sabbath's induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Butler is heard shouting "Up the Villa" as the members of the band left the stage. In an interview for the Aston Villa FC YouTube channel, he stated that Villa legend Peter McParland is his "all-time hero".

According to Ozzy Osbourne's autobiography I Am Ozzy , Geezer "never uses foul language."

Butler was raised on a vegetarian diet and is now a vegan, [12] and appeared in an advertisement for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in 2009. [12]

He urged fans to boycott Fortnum & Mason until they remove foie gras from their shelves. Butler said, "I've seen some outrageous things in my time, but watching those poor birds suffer simply so that their diseased livers can be sold on your shop floor is horrific!" [13]

In January 2015, Butler was briefly detained after a bar brawl in Death Valley, California and charged with misdemeanor assault, public intoxication and vandalism. He was released following detoxification and a citation. [14] In 2016 he opened up about 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." [15]

Style and legacy

Butler is noted as being one of the first bassists to use a wah pedal and to down-tune his instrument (from the standard E-A-D-G to the lower C#-F#-B-E), as exemplified on Black Sabbath's Master of Reality album, to match Iommi who had started tuning his guitar to C# (a minor third down). [6] During the band's Ozzy Osbourne era, Butler wrote almost all of the band's lyrics, drawing heavily upon his fascination with religion, science-fiction, fantasy and horror, and musings on the darker side of human nature that posed a constant threat of global annihilation. [5]

Butler is regarded as one of the most influential bassists in heavy metal. Billy Sheehan of 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". [16] In Mick Wall's biography of Iron Maiden entitled Run to the Hills, founder Steve Harris recalls: "I distinctly remember trying to play along to Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" – at first I just could not get it. I threw the guitar on my bed and walked out in a huff, but the next day I came back, picked it up and played it all the way through note-for-note! Once I got going, I started getting into bass-lines with a bit more subtlety to them...".

Former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted, who defined him his "number 1 influence", stated: "All true metal bassists look up to Geezer as a pioneer and Godfather of our chosen instrument. The best, ever". [17] Rex Brown of Pantera and Kill Devil Hill asserted: "He’s a legend. He’s everything. Geezer is so much of an influence on me. [16] Other bassists such as Cliff Burton, [18] Les Claypool, [19] Steve DiGiorgio, [20] Alex Webster, [21] John Myung, [22] Johnny Lee Middleton, [23] Greg Smith [24] cited Butler as a significant influence on their style.

Equipment

Butler currently endorses Lakland basses and has his own signature model. [25] For amplification, Butler is endorsed by Hartke bass amplification, Kilo bass head and 4X10 HyDrive cabinet. In the past, he has been known to use Ampeg SVT & B-15 bass amps and Fender, Dan Armstrong Plexi, Rickenbacker, Yamaha BB, Vigier and B.C. Rich Basses.

According to the Geezer Butler Bass Rig Rundown, [26] he used the following over the years.

Lakland basses

From early 2000's

Signature Lakland basses

Released in 2013

Discography

Solo
Black Sabbath
Ozzy Osbourne
Heaven & Hell
Non-album compilations

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References

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  2. "The Geezer Butler Interview". Classicbands.com. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  3. "Black Sabbath goes back to its roots". Montrealgazette.com. 7 April 2014. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Iommi, Tony (2011). Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven and Hell With Black Sabbath. Da Capo Press. ISBN   978-0306819551.
  5. 1 2 3 Ankeny, Jason. "Biography–Geezer Butler". Allmusic. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
  6. 1 2 "Artist profile-Geezer Butler". Ampeg. Archived from the original on 26 August 2010. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
  7. Hotten, Jon. "The Dio Years" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 January 2009. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  8. "Overview Black Science". Allmusic. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
  9. Jeffries, Vincent. "Overview Plastic Planet". Allmusic. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
  10. Monger, James Christopher. "Biography-Heaven & Hell". Allmusic. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
  11. "Photos :: The Official Geezer Butler Website". Geezerbutler.com. 5 December 2012. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
  12. 1 2 "Geezer Butler Appears in Peta Ad as a Confirmed Vegan". Guitar World . 28 April 2009. Retrieved 30 September 2011. [...] teamed up with peta2 [...] to shoot a brand-new pro-vegetarian ad featuring Butler [...] next to the tagline "I'm Geezer Butler, and I'm a Vegan."
  13. "Black Sabbath's Geezer ButlerCalls for Foie Gras Boycott," Karrang Radio, 1 March 2013.
  14. "Black Sabbath's Geezer Butler Arrested Following Bar Brawl". Loudwire.com. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  15. Graham Hartmann (8 June 2016). "Black Sabbath's Geezer Butler Reveals 2015 Arrest Was For Punching A 'Drucken Nazi Bloke'". Loudwire . Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  16. 1 2 "Black Sabbath's Geezer Butler Inspires Respect Among Peers at Bass Player Live Event". loudwire.com. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  17. "Hartke Brings Together Music's Finest For All-Star Tribute To Geezer Butler". blabbermouth.net. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  18. Joel McIver, To live is to die: The Life and Death of Metallica's Cliff Burton, p.86
  19. "Les Claypool interview". jensmetalpage.com. Archived from the original on 28 August 2010. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  20. "Interview with Bassist Steve Di Giorgio". bassmusicianmagazine.com. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  21. "Interview: Cannibal Corpse". painkillermag.com. Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  22. "John Myung: Exclusive interview with FBPO's Jon Liebman". Forbassplayersonly.com. 31 March 2014. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  23. "Interview with Johnny Lee Middleton". savatage.com. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  24. "Greg Smith interview". forbassplayersonly.com. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  25. "Artist profile-Geezer Butler". Lakland . Retrieved 22 January 2010.
  26. "Geezer Butler Bass Rig - "Know Your Bass Player" (1/3) | Which Bass". Which Bass. 6 November 2017. Retrieved 24 January 2018.