The Story Of The Nasty Fallout of Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler’s Relationship
via The Howard Stern Show / Youtube
Black Sabbath, the pioneers of heavy metal, have left an indelible mark on the music industry with their iconic songs and albums. However, behind the scenes, their journey was not always harmonious. In the 1990s, tensions reached a boiling point between two core members, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler. The fallout between these metal legends took a bitter and personal turn, revealing the drama and power struggles within the band. Geezer Butler’s recently-published biography, “Into The Void,” sheds light on this tumultuous period, where the band’s loyalty and future hung in the balance.
The Breaking Point: Geezer Butler’s Departure
After the release of Black Sabbath’s 1994 album “Cross Purposes,” Geezer Butler decided to part ways with the band, once again. While the album’s commercial performance was not the main issue for him, the constant changes in the band’s lineup proved frustrating. The return of Tony Martin after Ronnie James Dio’s second departure added to the instability. Butler’s loyalty to the band was being severely tested during this period, leading to his final decision to walk away. In his solo project under the name g/z/r, Butler expressed his feelings about the chaotic state of Black Sabbath in the song “Giving Up The Ghost.”
According to Geezer Butler in “Into The Void”:
“My loyalty to Sabbath was being tested to its limits…so I knew exactly how they felt.”
Unleashing Bitterness in Music
“Giving Up The Ghost” served as a platform for Geezer Butler to air his grievances about the various issues surrounding Black Sabbath. The lyrics tackled egos, rip-offs, press controversies, and the constant changes within the band. Although Butler clarifies that the song was not solely about Tony Iommi, it didn’t escape the guitarist’s attention. Tony’s response took a vindictive turn during the Forbidden tour, where the band displayed a backdrop with headstones reading “Here Lies Geezer Butler” and “Here Lies Gloria Butler.” The inclusion of Geezer’s wife, Gloria, in the visual added fuel to the fire and escalated the feud.
Geezer Butler explains in “Into The Void,”
“It wasn’t about Tony, but the whole cast of characters from the beginning of Sabbath to the current day…But lyrics such as ‘You can’t admit that you’re wrong / The spirit is dead and gone / You don’t bother me / You are history / A legend in your own mind’ were on the nose, to put it mildly.”
Healing Wounds and Reunion
Despite the bitter conflict, time healed the wounds between Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler. The two metal legends eventually reconciled, and along with Ozzy Osbourne and drummer Mike Bordin, they reunited for the 1997 Ozzfest tour. Furthermore, the band’s original drummer, Bill Ward, joined for two “final” Sabbath shows in Birmingham, marking a symbolic return to unity for the legendary metal band.
Tony Iommi’s response to the reconciliation, as mentioned in “Into The Void”:
“On Sabbath’s Forbidden tour, they had a backdrop of a cemetery…One headstone said, ‘Here Lies Geezer Butler’, the other ‘Here Lies Gloria Butler’. I went ballistic when I found out. It was one thing me and Tony falling out, but why did he have to drag my wife into it. That’s when I decided to dedicate Giving Up The Ghost to Tony and his ‘fake’ Sabbath.”
Although the band experienced turbulent times, their bond eventually triumphed over the discord, leading to a reunion and shared musical legacy.