How Black Was My Sabbath
Geezer, the bass player, delicate, impish, ordered a vegetarian lunch, smiling coyly. He ate his grilled cheese sandwich with a knife and fork, and only tasted his fake mashed potatoes once. He had a way of staring at people when he spoke to them, as if he could see through them. He was the seventh son of a seventh son, and claimed that he was Lucifer, and could see the devil. He struggled to get a spoonful of his cantaloupe, which was rock-hard but umbrella-less.
“It’s a satanic world,” he sighed, speaking softly. “The devil’s more in control now, and happier than ever before.” He smiled an impish smile. “People can’t come together, there’s no equality. The higher you climb, the more people you have to cut down. You feel you’re better than other people, that they’re inferior to you, and it’s a sin to put yourself above other people, and yet, that’s what people do.”
On the last tour, the year before, Geezer had taken acid with some people in Los Angeles, and had had a few bad trips where he saw evil all around. “Even in freak communities,” he continued. “People are trying to be freakier than the other person, to be one up on them, to be better. That’s the devil’s work, that’s why there is war.”
“This pea soup tastes like gnat’s piss,” said Ozzie, who wasn’t very hungry anyway, perhaps because of the antidepressant medication he’d been taking for a few days after having some difficulty with his wife long distance.
“They’re crazy mad in love,” said Bill when Ozzie left the table to get some cigarettes. “He really can’t stand being away from her. The problem they’re having is something too complicated and personal to talk about now. It has to do with something that happened some time ago.”
Everyone who walked into the dining room recognized the group from their picture in the Providence Evening Bulletin, and stopped by to wish them good luck at the concert that night. “Don’t mind me,” said one lady in a bouffant hairdo. “I don’t know anything about any of this, but it’s for my daughter.” She shoved a piece of paper and pencil in front of Geezer’s face, blocking a forkful of peas. “And do you have any tickets for the show tonight?” she wanted to know. Her daughter would really appreciate it.
“Fucking groupies,” muttered Ozzie, returning to the table. “I’m telling you, the next one who pushes herself at me, I’m going to piss all over her. Me and Bill decided to do that. Ain’t that right Bill? Just piss all over them. They’re disgusting. Remember, Bill, that time in Atlanta, Georgia? This bitch called me on the telephone and said, ‘I’m the best plater in the world’ — you know, blow job —— can I come up to your room?’ So I gave her Geezer’s room number, and told her to come up, just for a laugh.
“Well, she went up to Geezer’s room, and without a word took all her clothes off, and lay down on the bed with her legs apart, Billy, me, and Geezer looking on. ‘Well, isn’t somebody going to fuck me?’ she says to us. We all just stood there looking at her, kind of horrified. She looked pitiful and disgusting. Finally, she got pissed off when no one went near her, got up and dressed. ‘You English boys are disappointing.’ A bunch of fags, she called us, and left the room. But the next time I’m not going to stand there. I’ll fucking piss all over them.” He laughed a laugh that sounded like a sob. “Wait till me mother reads that, she’ll never speak to me again.”
The boys had come a long way from their childhood spent in Aston, a tough section of Birmingham where street fighting was the rule. They’d belonged to street gangs beating up each other. Their families worked in factories, which would have been their fate, too, but they started a band. “A paid hobby, if you like,” said Ozzie, “a good excuse not to get a job.”
The band was formed in January 1969 under the name Earth, Which they changed to Black Sabbath a year later. They spent that first year touring Europe, but remained unknown in England until the release of their first album Black Sabbath which quickly appeared in the Top Ten charts.
They all started to wear iron crosses, made by Ozzie’s father, to ward off evil spirits, shadows which they felt were plaguing them. “We all live with a shadow over us,” said Geezer. “The shadow of the next world war. You’re not going to get out of life alive, so it’s not worthwhile. And people don’t live a spiritual life, they only live for now, the devil rules them. That’s what my poems are about, things that are happening now. War and paranoia, death and hate. It gets people to thinking about what’s going on.”
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