Black Sabbath have collectively opened up about their notorious love for cocaine back in their prime and boy, was it an expensive habit.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, bassist Geezer Butler revealed that they spent more on cocaine during the making of 1972’s Vol. 4 than on the album itself.
Referencing a bill their manager presented to them following the recording of the album, Butler said: “Whether you can believe him or not, the record cost, I think, $65,000, and the cocaine bill was $75,000.”
When adjusted for inflation, the cocaine bill would have cost Black Sabbath approximately USD $470,000 in today’s money.
According to guitarist Tony Iommi, the band were “all smugglers” when it came to their cocaine use.
“At that time, it [the cocaine] was good stuff, and we used to have it flown in on a private plane. That’s why we used to have all the musicians turning up at our house at the time, pretending they’re coming to visit us. We were all bloody smugglers if you think about it,” Iommi said.
“You’ve got to remember, coming from the backstreets in Birmingham, now we’ve got a house in Bel-Air with a hit record, people know our music, and we were the kings of the planet. So we experienced everything we could,” Ozzy Osbourne added.
Iommi concurred, saying: “It was a fabulous house with a ballroom and a little bit of everything. We had the equipment set up in a room off by the swimming pool, and we could just rehearse, write stuff in the day, and party at night.” Before long, the drugs started pouring in, almost literally.”
Butler added: “We had a dealer who used to appear every so often. He used to have these washing detergent boxes, like Persil and Oxo, and instead of washing powder in them, there’d be cocaine. And he’d literally empty these boxes of cocaine out in the middle of the table. It’d be a little mountain.
“And then we used to have stuff flown in by people that the manager knew – the mafia. And they were all in these little bottles with wax tops on them. So they were, like, 100-per cent pure cocaine. And that was the good stuff.”
“One day, I was sitting by the pool and I said to [a guy sitting there], ‘We had some great coke yesterday,’ and he goes, ‘Oh, I sold it to you.’ ‘Oh, OK. What do you do?’ He said, ‘Oh, I work for the Food and Drug [Administration].’ He was an official,” said Osbourne.
“I went, ‘Oh, fuckin’ hell.’ He went, ‘No, you’re all right.’ He may have been winding me up, I don’t know. When you’re on that fucking bullshit powder, everything seems fantastic for five seconds and then you become a misery beyond belief.”
In reference to the album’s ode to cocaine, ‘Snowblind’, Osbourne explained that the band had not yet realised that the drug was their “worst enemy”.
“We wrote ‘Snowblind’ because it was the most amazing discovery of our lives. We thought that’s what success was, but it turned out to be our worst enemy. We were headfirst into that shit, and it was terrible.”
“Now I think to myself, ‘What the fuck was I thinking to think that was a good night out?’ The night never ended. You’d still be going to the next morning.”