Geezer Butler Confirms He Played On Unearthed Dio Black Sabbath Song

By Andrew Magnotta @AndrewMagnotta

March 10, 2021

Geezer Butler remembers the session for the newly-unearthed demo of the early-Ronnie James Dio-era Black Sabbath song "Slapback" and says he indeed played bass on the recording.

"Slapback" turned up last week when the stepson of late-Black Sabbath keyboardist Geoff Nicholls reportedly found the track on an old cassette and shared it online. The tape reportedly included other material that made its way onto the Heaven and Hell album, the first to feature Dio on lead vocals.

Nicholls' stepson, Gary Rees, noted when he shared the song that he could not verify which members of Sabbath were featured on the recording. 1979 was a year of upheaval for Black Sabbath, between Ozzy Osbourne getting fired, Dio joining, Butler departing briefly during writing sessions and Nicholls joining as Butler's potential replacement and then staying on as the band's keyboardist.

Eddie Trunk asked Butler if he could offer any clarity on the mysterious recording.

“Yeah, that was one of the songs that we did before I left," the bassist replied. "It’s probably the reason I did leave. [Laughs] It was just one of those songs that didn’t make the grade.”

While Butler added that the song was a "one-off thing" that the band soon forgot about, he said it's "incredible" that such a time capsule survived the past four decades in such good condition.

Listen to "Slapback" via the player above.

Elsewhere in the interview, Butler shocked the metal community with the claim that it was he who inspired Dio to use the iconic 'devil horns' hand sign — and he backed it up with a photo of himself making the gesture years before Dio joined Black Sabbath.

Black Sabbath's two studio albums with Dio have just been reissued in a super deluxe package, including rare and unreleased recordings, B-sides and live material.

Photo: Getty Images

Black SabbathGZRRonnie James Dio

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