Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Geezer Butler: Black Sabbath Bassist‏

by Tristan Andrews

His real name is Terrance Butler and he was born in Birmingham, England on July 17, 1949. Terrance got his nickname because he saluted other guys with the term "geezer" since he was a kid; it is English slang meaning "man".

He and Ozzy Osbourne started the band Rare Breed in the fall of 1967. They got together again, joining Tony Iommi and Bill Ward in the group Polka Tulk that changed to Earth and then broke new musical ground as Black Sabbath. Butler proposed the band's name that would become heavy metal originators. He got the idea from a movie title.

Butler was the bass player and also played mellotron, and synthesizers; he wrote the lyrics to many of the songs. He had played rhythm guitar before playing with Black Sabbath, but switched to bass at Iommi's request. To be in synch with Iommi's tuned down guitar, Butler tuned his bass down, this made him one of the initial bassist to tune down.

Butler employed a wah-wah pedal with his bass, as one of the initial bassists to do so. He highlighted this technique on the song N.I.B. from the 1970 self-titled album Black Sabbath. Rumors abounded about the title, such as, it meant Nativity in Black or Name in Blood. Butler cleared up the mystery, during an interview occurring in 1992, explaining that it referred to Bill Ward's goatee; the other band members said it resembled a pen nib.

He left the band in 1984, as he was upset over the Born Again album being credited to Black Sabbath, instead of to Iommi, Butler, Ward, Gillian as planned. The calamitous tour to promote the album also disturbed him. Upon leaving the band, he started his own group the Geezer Butler Band and played gigs in England.

In 1988, he teamed with Ozzy for the No Rest for the Wicked tour. Butler reunited with Black Sabbath in 1991, playing the Mob Rules reunion. He left again in 1994, subsequent to the Cross Purposes tour. In 1995, Butler initiated the group G/Z/R and put out the album Plastic Planet. In 1996, they released a song for Mortal Kombat. They issued Black Science in 1997. G/Z/R played some gigs in 1997, but around the Ozzfest.

Butler worked with Black Sabbath commitments for a time, but then recorded Ohmwork with the band members of his own group that previously worked live gigs. Ohmwork hit the market in May of 2005.

Tristan Andrews is a freelance author who writes about Black Sabbath for

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