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My Town: Geezer Butler’s Birmingham, England

Black Sabbath rocker shares his favorite hometown places to explore


spinner image building as background; photo of geezer butler in upper left corner; the words greetings from birmingham england in upper right corner
Photo Illustration: MOA Staff; (Source: Butler: ich Fury/Getty Images for SXSW; Background: Andrew Testa)

Black Sabbath bassist and founding member Geezer Butler, 73, has written a memoir, Into the Void: From Birth to Black Sabbath — And Beyond.

spinner image book cover with geezer butler playing bass, surrounded by fog, and words into the void, from birth to black sabbath and beyond, geezer butler
In his new memoir, Butler writes about Black Sabbath's early days, the band's long career and his later projects.
Dey Street Books

The book chronicles the band’s journey from a blues quartet in Birmingham, England, to a genre-defining heavy metal group that has sold more than 70 million records and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. Butler maintains a countryside house in his hometown of Birmingham, and he shares some of his favorite places to dine, shop and explore.

 

Catch a “football” game at

Villa Park. I've followed the Aston Villa Football Club since I was born because I was born in Aston. Aston Villa is less than a mile away from my house, so obviously I supported them. [Favorite player of the moment is] probably John McGinn. It’s one of the first football grounds in the world. [Aston Villa Football Club] started in 1874, and the team used to be the top team in the world that won more championships than any other team … and then it sort of went into a bit of a decline. Tom Hanks is a supporter as well, and Prince William.

spinner image geezer butler receiving the walk of stars award from woman on the field at villa park; crowd in stands in the distance
Butler received the Walk of Stars award from the Lord Mayor of Birmingham at Villa Park in 2017.
Courtesy Geezer Butler

 

Take a stroll

Anywhere in [nearby] Warwickshire [county]. There’s the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal. It goes from Birmingham up to Stratford-upon-Avon where Shakespeare was born. You can walk along the canal, and there’s lots of nice little pubs and places to stay and eat and stuff. It’s gorgeous. It gets to about 70 to 80 [degrees] if it’s a good summer. Winters are fairly mild; you don't get much snow in the winter.

spinner image boat making its way through a lock on the stratford-upon-avon canal; trees and high grass surround canal
This Stratford-upon-Avon canal flows from Birmingham to Stratford-upon-Avon where Shakespeare was born.
Andrew Testa
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Grab a pint at

The Boot Inn. It’s been [in nearby Lapworth] since [the 1780s] and it’s still all original, so you have to duck your head to get in there. People were smaller in those days, so all the old wooden beams and all that kind of thing — totally unstyled. And it’s right next to the canal, so you can sit outside and have a pint by the canal. They serve good food there as well. I’ve been a vegan since 1980, so I love the vegan stuff there.

spinner image people sitting at tables inside restaurant; server carrying plates
Diners can grab a pint or some vegetarian fare at the historic Boot Inn.
Andrew Testa

 

Make a reservation at

There’s a really good Indian restaurant called Ruchie that does South Indian curry stuff, and they do some really great vegan Indian meals.

spinner image people sitting at tables inside restaurant; spiral staircase in middle leading up to another floor
Ruchie offers an extensive menu of authentic South India specialities.
Andrew Testa

 

Do some shopping at

Stratford-upon-Avon and the town of Warwick. All kinds of shops. … Lots of shops sell Shakespeare memorabilia. All kinds of stores. We used to go into Stratford to watch The Tempest when it was performed [there].

spinner image outside of cafes and shops in the centre of warwick; people walking, sitting at tables
The Warwick area offers a selection of specialty shops and restaurants.
Andrew Testa
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Bring a picnic to

Aston Park. I spent most of my childhood there because we couldn’t afford to go on holidays. … It’s [got] this big massive mansion kind of place that was built [from 1618 to] 1635, and during the civil war, because it was a royalist house, the parliamentary troops fired a cannon at the Aston Hall [Manor], and they’ve still got the cannonball there and the big hole in the staircase that it caused. A great big park, really nice. It was opened by Queen Victoria in 1858. 

spinner image person sitting on grass, reading book outside of big building
Historic Aston Park features more than 900 acres of green space, mature trees and landscaped gardens, as well as Aston Hall, a Jacobean mansion built in the mid-17th century that is now a museum.
Courtesy Andrew Testa

 

Enjoy a concert at

Resorts World Arena [at the National Exhibition Centre in Solihull]. That was the last place Black Sabbath played, where we finished our whole thing, in 2017. … It’s built for the music — every major act in the world plays there when they play in Birmingham. It holds about 16,000 people.

spinner image black sabbath waving on stage at resorts world arena
Black Sabbath performed its final concert at the acclaimed Resorts World Arena.
Courtesy Oliver Halfin

 

Immerse yourself in art at

The Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. I used to go there when I was a kid because it’s free to get in. They’ve got an incredible pre-Raphaelite artwork collection there, [including] Edward Burne-Jones and a lot of paintings there [by] Rossetti. They’ve got this massive big statue of Lucifer [by sculptor Jacob Epstein]. [In 2019], they did a whole Black Sabbath exhibition there. Me and Tony [Iommi], the [Black Sabbath] guitarist, went for the opening, and it was incredible. They had memorabilia from each member of the band and a whole history thing and this massive big Black Sabbath sort of statue as you walk in the place. It was great. Really nice to be shown like that in Birmingham, especially in a museum. It’s probably where we belong after 50 years. [The museum is closed for maintenance and will reopen in 2024.]

spinner image outside of birmingham museum and art gallery; people walking
The Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery features an array of awe-inspiring pieces including oil paintings, tapestries, stained glass art and ceramics.
Andrew Testa

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