Geezer Butler Recalls The Ozzy Osbourne Ultimatum Given By Black Sabbath’s Manager

Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler recently shared the moment when the band’s manager gave them an Ozzy Osbourne ultimatum. During the interview with Louder Sound, Butler was asked about the first thing he heard Ronnie James Dio sing with Sabbath. He replied:

“We’d the music written for Children Of The Sea, but Ozzy hadn’t been able to come up with any vocals. We knew it was going to be a good song. We played it for Ronnie, and he came right out with the vocal. It was incredible. We knew then he was the right person.”

The bassist recalled the ultimatum given by their manager, Don Arden, he added:

“Don Arden was managing us at the time. The News Of The World had also done a whole thing about Don being a gangster. So we knew of his reputation. He went mental when Ozzy got sacked. He told us he was taking on the original Sabbath or nothing.”

Things almost went downhill when the manager saw Dio taking the place of Osbourne, but fortunately, they managed it. Butler continued:

“When Ronnie came in, Don said, ‘You can’t have a bloody midget replace Ozzy!’ This was in front of Ronnie. That’s the way Don spoke. There were no airs or graces about him, to be sure. He told us: ‘Either get Ozzy back, or I’ll go and manage him instead.’ That was the end of Don.”

The bassist mentioned this incident before in an earlier interview with Billboard. He revealed what Arden kept calling Dio and detailed what the band told him that led to keeping Dio in the band. He said:

“The manager at the time didn’t want Ronnie in the band — he said he was too little! He used to call him ‘the dwarf’ and all this stuff. And we said, ‘That’s ridiculous. He’s got a great voice, his songwriting’s brilliant, he’s doing great with the band, and that’s it. We’re keeping him.'”

The members initially had a strange feeling for replacing Osbourne with Dio. Apparently, they even considered breaking up. Despite the initial feeling, Butler quickly warmed up to Dio. The bassist then shared that both Dio and the drummer Vinny Appice ‘brought massive enthusiasm back to the band.’

Butler’s autobiographical book Into the Void is out now. See details here.