Geezer Butler: “Originally it was titled ‘Nib’, which was Bill’s beard and looked like a pen nib because it was pointy”

Geezer Butler and Bill Ward
(Image credit: Photo by Chris Walter/WireImag)

Terence ‘Geezer’ Butler, born in 1949, has done it all when it comes to the bass guitar. A founder member of the first ever heavy metal band, Black Sabbath, he formed a rock-solid foundation with guitarist Tony Iommi and a swung interplay with drummer Bill Ward that has influenced countless acts ever since. 

As Sabbath’s primary lyricist, Butler’s personal list of interests, which included Satanism, the Occult and associated states of ill-being, provided much of the group's lyrical inspiration, with fan favourite N.I.B continuing the same vein that unified much of the group’s self-titled debut album in 1970.

The unusual song title was long rumoured to be an acronym for Nativity in Black, a reference to the birth of the antichrist. The rumours turned out to be false, however, as Geezer later explained: “When I wrote N.I.B., I couldn’t think of a title for the song, so I just called it Nib, after Bill’s beard, which looked like a pen nib because it was pointy.” Clearly Geezer couldn’t have imagined just how widely discussed this obscure title would become.

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Nick Wells

Nick Wells was the Editor of Bass Guitar magazine from 2009 to 2011, before making strides into the world of Artist Relations with Sheldon Dingwall and Dingwall Guitars. He's also the producer of bass-centric documentaries, Walking the Changes and Beneath the Bassline, as well as Production Manager and Artist Liaison for ScottsBassLessons. In his free time, you'll find him jumping around his bedroom to Kool & The Gang while hammering the life out of his P-Bass.