Did Ozzy Osbourne save Angus Young’s life?

When Ozzy Osbourne is responsible for saving your life, dire trouble lies ahead. Almost always, the Black Sabbath frontman will be the most reckless person in a room, but AC/DC’s Angus Young was thankful for his presence during one perilous night in Sweden.

The two groups were on tour across Europe in 1977, and as the run of dates progressed, the tension between the bands gradually increased. Ultimately, things came to loggerheads on one particular evening, leading to a physical confrontation between the two bands that almost turned serious if it wasn’t for Osbourne’s peacemaking.

Sabbath were supposedly the headliners, but according to reports, AC/DC were proving to be a tough act to follow. The job of a support band is to get an atmosphere underway for the headliner and convert the audience into fans, a task which AC/DC rose to with ease. They were regularly outshining the main event, which might be why animosity arose between the two groups.

Violence was a common theme in Black Sabbath, but it was usually drummer Bill Ward on the receiving end of the exploits, which were laughed off as ‘pranks‘. On one occasion, they painted Ward gold while he was sleeping and would also regularly set him on fire. However, bassist Geezer Butler’s run-in with Malcolm Young was no laughing matter.

In 2003, the AC/DC guitarist opened up on the frightful incident to Q Magazine: “We were staying at the same hotel, and Geezer was in the hotel bar crying into his beer. He was complaining about being in the band for ten years and told me, ‘wait ’til you guys are around ten years. You’ll feel like us.’ I said, ‘I don’t think so.’ I was giving him no sympathy. He’d had many too many (drinks), and he pulled out this silly flick knife.”

Fortunately, the incident didn’t descend into bloodshed because of an expert piece of mediation from Osbourne. Young continued: “As luck would have it, Ozzy walked in and says to Geezer, ‘You fuckin’ idiot, Butler—GO TO BED!’ Ozzy saved the day, and we sat up all night with him.”

According to former AC/DC bassist Mark Evans, Young “knocked” Butler out during the scuffle. On the Let There Be Talk podcast, he commented: “I don’t know why but he knocked him, he KO’d him. But there was a story that someone had a gun or someone had a knife. And the next morning, when we were going out of town, Mal said, ‘I’ve got to stop at the hotel and go in there.’”

Years after the incident, Butler finally tried to play down the situation. In an interview with Louder Sound, the bassist admitted waving a knife but said he had no intention of causing any harm and attempted to suggest it was normal behaviour. Butler said: “No, I didn’t pull a knife. I always had flick-knives when I was growing up because everybody used to go around stabbing each other in Aston (Butler’s birthplace in Birmingham, England). Flick-knives were banned in England, but when we were playing Switzerland, I bought one. I was just flicking it when Malcolm Young came up to me and started slagging Sabbath.”

He continued: “I was just playing with the knife. I was really excited to get one again. I was having a drink and flicking my knife—like you do—and he came over and said: ‘You must think you’re big, having a flick-knife.’ I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ And that was it. Nobody got hurt.”

Only Butler knows whether he planned on causing any ill harm that evening in Sweden. However, Young was certainly thankful for Osbourne cooling the situation.

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