The time Geezer Butler got arrested in a bar brawl

A cartoon of Geezer Butler's bar brawl
Geezer Butler: the truth behind that bar brawl (Image credit: Simon Gane)

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.

(Image credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

“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.”

Dave Everley

Dave Everley has been writing about and occasionally humming along to music since the early 90s. During that time, he has been Deputy Editor on Kerrang! and Classic Rock, Associate Editor on Q magazine and staff writer/tea boy on Raw, not necessarily in that order. He has written for Metal Hammer, Louder, Prog, the Observer, Select, Mojo, the Evening Standard and the totally legendary Ultrakill. He is still waiting for Billy Gibbons to send him a bottle of hot sauce he was promised several years ago.