Geezer Butler Remembers Ozzy Osbourne’s Ultimatum From Black Sabbath’s Manager

Geezer Butler, bassist for Black Sabbath, recently recalled the moment when the band’s manager offered them an Ozzy Osbourne ultimatum. Butler was asked about the first song he heard Ronnie James Dio sing with Sabbath during an interview with Louder Sound. He responded: “We had the music written for Children Of The Sea, but Ozzy couldn’t come up with any vocals.” We had a feeling it was going to be a hit. We played it for Ronnie, and he immediately came out with the vocal. It was amazing. We knew he was the proper person at that point.” The bassist recalled their manager, Don Arden, issuing an ultimatum, and he added: “At the time, we were managed by Don Arden. The News Of The World had also made a big deal out of Don being a gangster. So we were aware of his notoriety. When Ozzy was fired, he went insane. He told us that it was the genuine Sabbath or nothing.”

Things almost went wrong when the manager noticed Dio replacing Osbourne, but they were able to pull it off. Butler went on to say: “When Ronnie walked in, Don exclaimed, ‘You can’t replace Ozzy with a bloody midget!’ This was happening right in front of Ronnie. That’s how Don said it. To be sure, he had no airs or graces about him. ‘Either bring Ozzy back, or I’ll go manage him instead,’ he said. Don had come to an end.” In an earlier interview with Billboard, the bassist described this incident. He disclosed what Arden kept calling Dio and what the band informed him that resulted in Dio remaining in the band. He stated: “At the time, the manager didn’t want Ronnie in the band because he said he was too small!” He used to refer to him as ‘the dwarf’ and other such nonsense. ‘That’s crazy,’ we said. He has a terrific voice, brilliant songwriting, and is doing well with the band, and that’s all. We’ll keep him.'” The band had an odd feeling about replacing Ozzy Osbourne with Dio at first. They apparently pondered splitting up. Despite his reservations, Butler quickly warmed up to Dio. The bassist went on to say that Dio and drummer Vinny Appice have ‘brought huge energy back to the band.’ Butler’s autobiography, Into the Void, is now available. Details can be found here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *