Geezer Butler remembered how Black Sabbath “panicked” when they heard about the plane crash that killed Randy Rhoads during a radio report in 1982.

Sabbath were on tour in the U.S., as was Ozzy Osbourne as a solo artist, when the guitarist in the singer’s band died in an accident. Crew member Rachel Youngblood and pilot Andrew Aycock also lost their lives. At the time, acrimony remained between Osbourne and his former Sabbath bandmates following his dismissal in 1979.

“The only time we thought about Ozzy was when Randy got killed in the air crash,” Butler told Goldmine in a recent interview. “We were in the hotel on tour, and it came on the radio: ‘Members of Ozzy Osbourne’s band killed in a plane crash.’ And we all panicked and called the management, his management, and they said it was Randy that got killed and Ozzy was okay. … I don’t think any of us ever met Randy.”

By 1982, Sabbath had reestablished themselves with Ronnie Jame Dio in Osbourne’s place, and bassist Butler recalled being “really glad” that he didn’t have to write the band’s lyrics any more.

“I felt like I’d come to the end … on the Never Say Die album, I just had nothing else to write about,” he said. “So it was an incredible relief to have somebody come in and do that.

"[Dio's] stuff, I think it’s more fantasy and dragons and all that kind of stuff. Mine was more a lot of politics and everyday occurrences, while his were more surreal and out of this world kind of thing. When it came to the second album, the only thing that was said to him was, like, ‘No rainbows and no dragons!’ That was it. He got the message and did what he did.”

In another significant change, drummer Bill Ward was replaced by Vinny Appice at short notice. “[Ward] just got in his Winnebago during the night and pissed off without telling anybody,” Butler remembered. “He was really bad on booze at the time. … He was making wrong decisions that he regretted later. We didn’t have time to think. It was like a panicky situation. But Vinny knew most of the songs anyway, and he worked miracles, really. He only had a couple of days to rehearse before we had to go to Hawaii and play to, like, 30,000 people in the football stadium there.”


Black Sabbath Albums Ranked

More From Classic Rock Q107