Youtube, Geoff Nicholls – Archive
Four years after his passing, Geoff Nicholls‘ estate published an incredible unreleased recording of a Black Sabbath rehearsal as a wonderful tribute to the late members’ contribution to the band.
The description of the video pins the recording to 1979, right as the group was transitioning to Ronnie James Dio as its new frontman. The lineup of the rehearsal continues with Tony Iommi on guitar, Bill Ward on drums, and of course Geoff Nicholls on bass.
“Geoff Nicholls passed away 4 years ago, 28th January 2017. This upload is a tribute to him,” His estate wrote in the description. “I recently found this SONY C-90 tape cassette amongst the thousands in Geoff Nicholls’ archive. On the inlay card is written ‘ ON & ON HEAVEN & HELL ORIGINAL VERSION GEOFF PLAYING BASS’. Inside the cassette case was a Maxell UD 90.”
Though Nicholls history with the band has him undulating between official member and unassuming off-stage guitarist, his main role was as a keyboardist. However, in the newly released tapes, his estate insists that Nicholls was the originator of the baseline of this legendary track “Heaven and Hell”.
“The B side is written ‘On + On HEAVEN HELL ORIGINAL GEOFF ON BASS’ Nowhere does it say that this is Black Sabbath on the cassette. On And On Heaven And Hell may have been the original working title.”
Nicholls in fact was supposed to be a fill-in member as the band retooled its lineup and potentially its name. Though bassist Geezer Butler hadn’t arrived in Los Angeles yet and what started as a favor, turned into a long-term gig and the jam session that you hear today.
The post even sights excerpts from the book Black Sabbath, Never Say Die, where Butler says he would never have written such a simple bass line.
“Afterwards Geezer told me he would never have played that riff on the bass because it was so simple.”
“It was funny though Geezer saying that about ‘Heaven And Hell’ because he was right, he would never have played that bass line, which of course means that ‘Heaven And Hell’ might never have happened in the first place. It was me messing about on bass that started the whole song off.”
To this day Geezer is credited for the baseline. However, if there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s that Dio sounds incredible even in a scratch track from a forty-year-old rehearsal tape.