Geezer Butler talks about Black Sabbath‘s debut album and satanism. Black Sabbath is often associated with satanic imagery and dark themes in its lyrics and music.
Black Sabbath was formed in Birmingham, England in 1968. The original lineup consisted of Ozzy Osbourne on vocals, Tony Iommi on guitar, Geezer Butler on bass, and Bill Ward on drums. The band’s music was heavily influenced by blues and jazz, as well as the occult and horror films of the time. And they pioneered heavy metal music.
Contrary to popular belief, Black Sabbath’s music was not a celebration of satanism. Instead, it warned against the dangers of dabbling in the occult and practicing black magic. The band members themselves stated they were not interested in satanism or the occult.
In a recent interview, bassist Geezer Butler revealed that their music was a warning against the dangers of black magic and satanism. With this interview, we are looking at the history of the Black Sabbath and the message they aimed to bring through their music:
“I saw the upside-down cross and thought, ‘Oh God!’ because I knew I couldn’t bring it home. My family are strict Irish Catholics and my dad would have gone mental. I totally believed in the devil. I started reading books by Aleister Crowley and Dennis Wheatley, especially The Devil Rides Out, which was meant to be a cautionary tale. But which read like a handbook on how to be Satanist.
“Ozzy gave me this 16th-century book about magic that he’d stolen from somewhere. I’d put it in an airing cupboard because I wasn’t sure about it. Later that night I woke up and saw this black shadow at the end of my bed. It was a horrible presence that frightened the life out of me! I ran to the airing cupboard to throw the book out but the book had disappeared!
We didn’t think anything of it until the first American tour.
Back to his earliest interviews he said:
There was some black magic organisation that wanted us to play at a stone circle… We said no – we were sort of against Satan as opposed to promoting it – so they allegedly cursed us. The head of the white witches called our management and said he knew we had a curse put on us, and we should wear crosses and he’d do a ritual thing. It all sounds so hokey.
Yeah, that’s why we started wearing crosses! Ozzy’s father made them for us. He used to work at a metal factory making car parts, so he made us these great big crosses out of spare metal.”
“I remember coming back from our first American tour, and I had kidney stones, so my mum and dad came around to the flat I was living in to see me. I would got upside down crosses and posters of Satan all over the walls, which were painted black, and my dad nearly had heart failure. He went around tearing everything down.
“Absolutely. I would been interested in Satanism and things started going wrong, so I quickly gave up on black magic. Black Sabbath was a warning against black magic and Satanism.
Things going wrong. Well, my aunt and uncle died, and my mum was having a nervous breakdown, and I associated this with the bad vibes from stuff that I was getting into. So I turned 180 degrees away from it and started trying to put out more positive energy.”
Black Sabbath was not a satanic band, but rather a group of musicians who used horror imagery to warn against the dangers of black magic and satanism. Their legacy continues to inspire and influence artists in the heavy metal genre, and their message of caution against blindly following dogma remains as relevant today as it was when they first formed over 50 years ago.
You can listen whole Black Sabbath debut album below!