A Lost Dio-Era Black Sabbath Song, "Slapback," Has Been Uncovered

Black Sabbath perform live in 1980
(Image credit: Fin Costello/Redferns/Getty Images)

A few days ago, a 1979 recording of a song called "Slapback" – purportedly made by Black Sabbath – surfaced on YouTube. 

Uploaded by Gary Rees – the stepson and executor of the estate of former Black Sabbath keyboardist Geoff Nicholls, who passed away in 2017 – the song purportedly features Sabbath with their then-new singer, Ronnie James Dio. 

Questions, however, quickly arose about the authenticity of the recording, which led Eddie Trunk to ask Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler – during the latter's appearance on his radio show, SiriusXM's Trunk Nation with Eddie Trunk – about the song.

Butler confirmed the provenance of the recording, saying "Yeah, that was one of the songs that we did before I left.

"It's probably the reason I did leave," Butler joked. "It was just one of those songs that didn't make the grade."

Though Butler left Black Sabbath for four months in late 1979 (during which time Nicholls replaced him on bass), he added that the recording – made during the writing sessions for what would become the band's 1980 debut with Dio, Heaven and Hell – does indeed feature him on bass. 

"Yeah, that was right before I left,” he said. “It was just a one-off thing. We just jammed it and didn't think anything more of it. It didn't really work."

Heaven and Hell and its follow-up, 1981’s Mob Rules, were reissued on March 5 in remastered/expanded editions.

Jackson Maxwell
Associate Editor, GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com

Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.