GEEZER BUTLER States He’d Be Unemployed if He Weren’t Playing Bass

Jon Liebman of For Bass Players Only spoke with bassist Gezzer Butler about why he chose to play bass, how he got his name and Ronnie James Dio. Portions of the interview appear below:

FBPO: How did you end up choosing the bass as your primary instrument?

GB: I chose to switch to bass from rhythm guitar when I got together with the band which would eventually become Black Sabbath. Rhythm guitarists were superfluous at that time in the genre we were playing. Cream and Hendrix had pioneered the guitar/bass/drums lineup and that was the style I wanted to play in.

FBPO: Who were your earliest musical influences?

GB: I came from a large family, three brothers and three sisters, so there was always some kind of music being played in our house. My mother and father played mostly traditional Irish music. My brothers were listening to Elvis and Buddy Holly, but when I heard the Beatles, I really related to them. After that I was into the Stones, the Kinks, the Who, Muddy Waters, Dizzy Gillespie, John Mayall, Cream, Hendrix, Zeppelin, Zappa, etc. Jack Bruce was my biggest influence on bass.

FBPO: Why do they call you Geezer?

GB: Geezer was my nickname at school because I used to call everyone else geezer when I was a kid. It means “guy” or “dude” in England, not an old man, as in the USA, although it is now befitting in both places. I picked it up from my brothers.

FBPO: On a more somber note, what can you tell our readers about Ronnie James Dio?

GB: Ronnie was the most honest bloke I’ve ever worked with. He’d tell you exactly what was on his mind, no holds barred, whether good or bad. It led to quite a bit of arguing, but you always knew where you stood. As a friend, there was none better. He’d go out of his way for you, and often did. He always made me feel welcome and we had some great times together.

Ronnie genuinely loved his fans and would stay for hours after each gig, talking to them. He’d often have a drink at the hotel bar or nearby pub with his fans. I miss him greatly. It was one of the saddest periods of my life watching him succumb to that horrible disease, but he put up a brave fight until the end. He passed with lots of the people he loved, and who loved him, by his bedside.

FBPO: There’s all kinds of talk, especially lately, about the prospect of a Black Sabbath reunion. What’s up?

GB: No idea.

FBPO: What would you be if you weren’t a bass player?

GB: Unemployed.

Read Geezer Butler’s entire interview with For Bass Players Only by clicking here.

Check out David Ellefson talking to Geezer Butler & Wendy Dio at the 2011 Golden Gods Awards!

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