GEEZER BUTLER: “I don’t speak to OZZY OSBOURNE anymore”
In a new interview with Ultimate Classic Rock, BLACK SABBATH bassist Geezer Butler, who is promoting his newly released autobiography “Into The Void: From Birth To Black Sabbath – And Beyond”, addressed his current relationship with the band’s fellow original members. Speaking about the fact that he mentioned guitarist Tony Iommi in the book acknowledgments, where he wrote that Tony “actually still keeps in touch”, Geezer said: “Yeah, he’s always been there for me. You know, he’s a good friend. We can slag each other to death. It’s like marriage, really. You have terrible arguments, you fall out and you come back together. But he’s always there. He always is. I hope he is after this book as well. I still love Bill [Ward, original SABBATH drummer], but he’s not on the Internet. If you want to talk to Bill, you have to e-mail his wife and she has to tell him. It’s really awkward. [Laughs] Ozzy I don’t speak to at all.” Asked if he thinks there’s a chance those lines of communication will open back up at some point, Butler said: “I very much doubt it. We didn’t fall out; it was the wives.”
In the book, Geezer wrote about Ozzy: “Me and Ozzy are fine, it’s just that we’re both ruled by our wives. He’s got a big heart and was always there for me.”
Butler and his wife, Gloria Butler, split their time between Henderson, Nevada and Utah while Ozzy and his wife, Sharon, are preparing to move back to the United Kingdom after living in California for the last few decades.
Last year, Ozzy described Tony to Metal Hammer magazine as “incredibly supportive” while admitting that he hadn’t spoken to Butler in a while. “Last I heard, he was living in Vegas,” Ozzy said.
During an August 2020 appearance on Steve-O‘s “Wild Ride!” podcast, Sharon Osbourne was asked if it’s correct to say that when the original BLACK SABBATH lineup reunited more a decade ago, it was done on her terms, with her husband owning the SABBATH name and the other members of SABBATH acting as “employees” of the band. She responded: “It’s about right, but Ozzy and Tony own the name — Geezer and Bill don’t. So it’s Ozzy and Tony that own the name, and they are partners in BLACK SABBATH. So you’re kind of right. Ozzy and Tony are equal, and at the time, the other guys, you know, it’s kind of like pay-for-play.”
Ozzy filed a lawsuit against Tony in May 2009, claiming that Iommi illegally took sole ownership of the band’s name in a filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Osbourne sued Iommi for a 50 percent interest in the “Black Sabbath” trademark, along with a portion of Iommi‘s profits from use of the name.
The Manhattan federal court suit also charged that Osbourne‘s “signature lead vocals” are largely responsible for the band’s “extraordinary success,” noting that its popularity plummeted during his absence from 1980 through 1996.
Lawyer Andrew DeVore argued that Osbourne signed away all his rights to the BLACK SABBATH trademark after he quit the band in 1979.
Osbourne‘s lawyer, Howard Shire, called that agreement a “red herring” that was “repudiated” when the singer rejoined in 1997 and took over “quality control” of the band’s merchandise, tours and recordings.
In June 2010, Ozzy told The Pulse Of Radio that the lawsuit between him and Tony had been settled and that everything was okay between them.
According to Rolling Stone, Butler had sold his share of the BLACK SABBATH band name to Iommi in 1984 and has since gotten over any regrets. “I still get a quarter of everything, so it doesn’t matter financially,” he told the magazine. “It’s just that I can never go out on the road and call myself BLACK SABBATH.”
In his book, Butler wrote that the original SABBATH reunion didn’t go as planned after it was announced in November 2011, adding that “there was a big row about the SABBATH name, all over again. I was under the impression that since the original members were back together, writing and recording a new album, the name would revert to all four of us, whatever had happened between Tony and Ozzy a couple of years earlier,” Geezer wrote. “But when the name was discussed, it became clear that Tony and Ozzy had no intention of sharing the SABBATH name with me or Bill. I felt cheated, so I left the band again. They got someone in to replace me, but a couple of weeks later I got a call from Tony, begging me to come back. In the end, I got my lawyers on the case and they managed to sort everything out. I was assured that despite not part-owning the SABBATH name, everything would be split equally, and the band wouldn’t be able to tour as SABBATH without my approval, if needed.”
“Into The Void: From Birth To Black Sabbath – And Beyond” was released on June 6 in North America via HarperCollins imprint Dey Street Books. The book will arrive in the United Kingdom on June 8.