Black Sabbath bass player Geezer Butler was 'crocked' for Commonwealth Games closing ceremony gig – Birmingham Live

Geezer Butler was a key part of the Black Sabbath story, writing lyrics for Paranoid and other hits as well as playing a thumping bass… so why wasn’t he at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games’ closing ceremony? Tony Iommi reveals all…
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Legendary bass player Geezer Butler didn't play at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games closing ceremony because the rocker had come a cropper on a boat – and was crocked.
The last time Geezer Butler made public appearances in Birmingham it was to receive a Broad Street Walk of Stars Award in 2018 – and to unveil the Black Sabbath Bench on Broad Street the following year in 2019, on the same June day he also visited the brilliant Home of Metal exhibition at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.
So when Ozzy Osbourne made a miraculous appearance at the closing ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games alongside guitarist Tony Iommi, fans might have wondered why Adam Wakeman was playing bass instead of Black Sabbath founder member, Geezer Butler. Especially as the above video shot in June, 2019 features Tony and Geezer hilariously reacting to a BirminghamLive suggestion they could play at the Commonwealth Games.
Read more:Secret operation which got Ozzy Osbourne to Commonwealth Games closing ceremony – Tony Iommi reveals all
Guitarist Tony Iommi had been with Geezer all the way at the above three events after they – and Ozzy – had brought the curtain down on Black Sabbath's extraordinary 50-year career with two final shows right at the end of The End world tour, held at the NEC's then Genting Arena on February 2 and 4 2017.
When the Games finally came, Sabbath were going to need to play just one song in full – Paranoid – for which Geezer had written the lyrics!
Geezer, always the shy one, had left a permanent marker on the band's pioneering heavy metal history thanks to lyrics which helped to give birth to Ozzy's Prince of Darkness persona – all deliciously underpinned by the formidable rythm section he'd formed with the band's fourth original member, drummer Bill Ward
Even though all four Sabbath members had grown up on neighbouring streets of Aston – an inner city part of the West Midlands' metal-bashing industrial heartland which would both influence and fuel their sound – Ward was never going to appear for a five-minute blast at the Commonwealth Games when he hadn't played with the band for years re apparent contractual wrangles and ill-health.
But former Sacred Heart pupil Geezer…. he of the AVFC liveried bass guitar with the motto 'Prepared' … the kid who used to run onto his beloved Villa Park pitch – surely would have been there with Ozzy and Tony again?
Alas, everything was done at such short notice and circumstances for Geezer had already intervened. Tony told BirminghamLive that even during his own performance at the opening ceremony, he had no idea Ozzy would be able to travel from the United States having not long had an operation to improve his mobility following a fall at home.
So, when the guitarist was invited to play again at the close, Tony had been talking to other 'big names' with a view to being able to play with them as a follow-up to his opening ceremony performance with saxophonist Soweto Kinch
When Ozzy saw the opening ceremony and decided to come over at the last minute, Tony had no chance to do any proper preparations. The pair only arrived in the stadium in mid-afternoon with time for one rehearsal of Paranoid, one of the songs which defined the group's career.
On drums would be Tommy Clufetos, who had played with Sabbath on The End tour. And, on bass, a musician who isn't even known as a bass player. Adam Wakeman, who was also on The End tour, is the son of Yes star Rick Wakeman and is a keyboard player and rhythm guitarist.
So why no Geezer? Tony told BirminghamLive: "I don't think he wanted to come over as he hadn't been well with Covid. He'd been on holiday to Kenya and to Italy and had had an accident on a boat, cracking or breaking a rib about three weeks ago, so he was not quite in fine fettle to come over to play. It's a shame because we'd talked for a long time about the possibility of playing at the Commonwealth Games."
Tony added: "I never thought that Ozzy would be able to come and perform at the Commonwealth Games because of his operation. And then when he said he was coming over we were asked to keep it all a secret so that nobody would know."
Known as Terry to friends and family, Geezer turned 73 on July 17, 2022. He earned his nickname because that's the name he gave to everyone else who was around him as a kid growing up in the 1873 Friar Park Villas on Victoria Road, Aston.
Geezer told BirminghamLive in 2018: "I used to sneak in to Villa Park after half time once they’d opened the gates to let people out to avoid a crush because I couldn’t afford the shilling to get in.
“I’d watch what I could of the first half from Aston Park. Like most of the local kids you could say I was full of mischief. Later, when I could afford it, I would sit around the half way line in the Trinity Road stand."
Geezer, who also went to the former Holte Grammar Commercial School in Whitehead Road, added: “I was quite outgoing as a kid, but the older I get the more introverted I seem to have become. I never thought I would get the courage to say I would come and be able to (receive the Walk of Stars award) and, in the end, I got fed up of refusing it and plucked up the courage to say ‘Yes!’."
During both the opening and closing ceremonies, Tony Iommi proved at 74 that age along is no barrier to being a rock star – close pal Brian May, 75, has been on tour with Queen playing two hours per night.
"I'd be up for playing shows again in the future, but not 18 month tours like we used to do," said Tony. "If there were a certain amount of shows, I would do that. Playing is what it's all about."
"I'm hoping I'm good (to keep playing) for a few more years yet…."
As well as Ozzy needing another operation to try to get more mobile following a fall at home, Tony said he was alarmed by the number of people he knew who had suffered accidents recently as well as Geezer and Ozzy.
"My guitar tech fell and hit his head and suffered bleeding on the brain and has spent four-and-a-half months in hospital in an induced coma," Tony revealed.
"Another friend fell and it killed him. Ozzy's rising platform had a metal stand behid him which he could lean on during the Closing Ceremony.
"As you get older, you can't be too careful. As a result of my friends' injuries I tell my wife, Maria, that it's not a good idea to come bouncing down the stairs like we used to – that we should always hold on to the handrail! You just never know."
After the opening ceremony, Geezer tweeted: "Enjoyed the Birmingham Commonwealth Games opening ceremony. Well done Brum!"
At the time of publication, Geezer had yet to post about the closing ceremony, but on August 6 offered Villa boss Steven Gerrard some advice: "Mings and Chambers next Saturday, please@AVFCOfficial."
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