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Why Geezer Butler Wasn't Present At Tony Iommi, Ozzy's Birmingham Reunion

Cofounding Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler was conspicuously absent from the Tony Iommi and Ozzy Osbourne's fiery reunion last week, but not because he wasn't welcome.

Iommi, who performed at the Games' opening ceremonies, admitted last week that even he was surprised Ozzy turned up for the gig, less than two months after undergoing major spinal surgery. The guitarist tells Birmingham Live that the timing was less opportune for Sabbath bassist and lyricist Butler, who like Ozzy lives in Southern California.

"I don't think he wanted to come over as he hadn't been well with Covid," Iommi said. "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." 

Butler doubted the possibility of another Black Sabbath reunion when asked about it in 2019, but he added that he was similarly dubious about the band's 2011 reunion; he was happily proven wrong then.

Instead of Butler and cofounding drummer Bill Ward (who ultimately dropped out of the band's last reunion), Ozzy and Iommi took the stage with Tommy Clufetos on drums and Adam Wakeman on bass.

Being that "Paranoid" is one of Black Sabbath's shortest songs, the performance only lasted about three minutes. But for Ozzy, who's been fighting his way back from severe spinal issues for three years, it was an important step forward in his recovery.

"When [Ozzy] went out to get into position, he was hobbling," Iommi told Birmingham Live after the performance. "When we'd finished, Sharon [Osbourne] said, 'Look how he's walking now... he's walking OK back to the dressing room.' It had obviously done him good."

Ozzy later added in an interview with The Sun that his ultimate goal remains the same: to get back on tour.

"I go forward two inches and back one, but I'm doing it," he said of his recovery.

Photo: Getty Images North America

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