Geezer Butler Remembers Their Controversial Manager That Was A Real Gangster
via Alberto Bernard / Youtube
Former Black Sabbath manager Don Arden, according to Geezer Butler, was divisive and occasionally aggressive.
During a guest appearance on The Rock Podcast with Denny Somach, he declared, “He was a notorious gangster.” He continued saying:
“He was called the Godfather of Rock. He had really gangster-like methods in the way he got bands.”
Along with suspicions of potential mafia ties, Arden’s brutal personality has a lengthy history. He had a notorious reputation for using all measures required to get his way. Butler said:
“He famously hung Robert Stigwood, the Bee Gees manager, out of the window because Robert Stigwood tried to steal one of Don’s bands.”
Did Don Arden Rip Off Black Sabbath?
Butler recalled that when they first met Arden, he tried to deceive Black Sabbath on their initial agreement. Butler explained:
“When we first went to see him, he wanted to sign us, and he showed us this contract and there was a space where the management percentage was supposed to be – and it was blank.
“I said, ‘Well, how much are we supposed to be paying you?’ He went, ‘Oh, don’t worry about that. I’ll fill that part in later.’ I said, ‘Well, can you fill out how much you’ll be getting, your percentage now?’ And he wouldn’t do it.”
Black Sabbath eventually opted for a different manager in the early stages of their career, although that arrangement also had its challenges. It wasn’t until 1976 that they officially signed with Arden, and this working relationship endured through Ozzy Osbourne’s departure, Ronnie James Dio’s tenure, and the short-lived Ian Gillan era. Butler admitted:
“We were off-and-on with Don.
“When Ozzy left, when Ian Gillan joined the band, Don Arden was our manager at that time – and he got us quite a good deal back then. It was hit-and-miss with Don.”
How Are Don Arden and Sharon Osbourne Related?
Early in the 1970s, Don Arden introduced his daughter Sharon to the family management firm, where she later met her future husband, Ozzy. They started dating in 1979, and she took over as Osbourne’s manager after he was let go from Black Sabbath later that year.
It didn’t sit well with Arden to lose one of his most well-known clients. Even after he wed Sharon in 1982, he reportedly made many attempts to get Osbourne back.
Before reconnecting in the early 2000s, Don and Sharon stayed apart for many years. At age 81, he passed away in 2007.