All the members of Black Sabbath have been pretty open about their debauched past, but of all the stories concerning their experiences with illegal party favors, I think my favorite is Geezer Butler’s account of how the band used to have cocaine flown to them on private planes while they were recording their masterful 1972 album, Vol. 4.
During that time, many of Sabbath’s drug-soaked escapades took place in the rented Bel Air mansion of John Du Pont (former heir to the of Du Pont family fortune whose high-profile 1997 murder case was recently depicted in the film, Foxcatcher).
According to Butler’s mathematical calculations, Sabbath spent approximately $75K on cocaine in 1972, a whopping $15K more than they spent recording Vol. 4. Here’s more on Sabbath’s white line fever from former cocaine enthusiast Ozzy Osbourne via his 2010 autobiography (which I highly recommend), I Am Ozzy:
Eventually we started to wonder where the fuck all the coke was coming from…I’m telling you: that coke was the whitest, purest, strongest stuff you could ever imagine. One sniff, and you were king of the universe.
In the same book Osbourne noted:
For me, Snowblind was one of Black Sabbath’s best-ever albums—although the record company wouldn’t let us keep the title, ‘cos in those days cocaine was a big deal, and they didn’t want the hassle of a controversy. We didn’t argue.
It’s almost too bad that the Vol. 4 cover has now become iconic in its own right, because wouldn’t it be great if it truly had been called Snowblind?
In addition to snorting what could easily equate to mountains of cocaine, Sabbath never really discriminated when it came to drugs or booze. On one particular occasion Geezer Butler nearly committed suicide after tripping balls on acid that someone had dropped into his drink. According to Butler, it was that incident that helped him recognize that he needed to get sober. Yikes.
Here’s some choice video of Sabbath below performing their homage to Tony Montana’s drug of choice from Vol. 4, “Snowblind” in 1978 at London’s Hammersmith Odeon. Because, cocaine.