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Geezer Butler: the story behind his bar brawl arrest

In January 2015, Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler was arrested following a bar brawl. Now he finally reveals what really happened

One of the most bizarre chapters of Black Sabbath’s long and often bizarre career came in January 2015, when Geezer Butler was arrested and thrown in jail following a bar brawl in California.

Aside from a tweet shortly after he was released that described the incident as “unfortunate”, the bassist has remained tight-lipped on what exactly happened that night. Until now…

“My sister-in-law had just died, and I’d gone to Death Valley in California just to get away from it all,” Geezer tells Classic Rock. “Not just that, everything – Christmas, New Year’s, everything like that. I went down to the gift shop in the hotel, and there was this nice Western bar there. I thought, ‘I may as well have one before I go to bed.’ It was the strongest beer I’ve ever had in my life.

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“The next thing I know, this guy started mouthing off about something. He was, like, some drunken Nazi bloke. He recognised me, and because I was in the music business, he started going on about Jews and everything – Jews this, Jews that. My missus is Jewish and I’d just had enough, and me hand sort of met his chin. I whacked him one.”

Unsurprisingly, the bar’s owners didn’t take too kindly to a bar brawl on their premises, even one involving a 67-year-old heavy metal legend, and the cops were swiftly called.

“I was absolutely legless at the time,” says Geezer. “I don’t know what happened, but one minute I was in this bar, and the next thing I was being arrested. I woke up jail. That was bad enough, but waking up with a hangover was horrible. I was totally ashamed. I should have just walked away. But when you get pissed out of your brains, you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Ironically, it was “Dry January” back in the UK – a period where many Brits choose to give up booze for a whole month following the excesses of Christmas.

“Because it was Dry January, I wasn’t even going to drink,” says Geezer. “And it was something like January 28, so it was so close. But I haven’t touched booze since.”

Black Sabbath play the Download Festival on June 11.


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