Black Sabbath announced earlier that it will play its final show ever in November at an Ozzfest event in Japan. And if frontman Ozzy Osbourne gets his way, original member Bill Ward, estranged from the band in recent years, will be behind the drum kit.
“Osbourne is [ready] to extended an olive drumstick, and has said he hopes the band’s ex-drummer Bill Ward, who pulled out of the reunion tour due to financial disputes, will join them for the show,” reported Spin, which added an update to its story to note that Ward’s publicist said that Osbourne had yet to extend an official offer to Ward.
In November of 2011, the original members of the band – Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Ward – announced that they would reunite for their first album together since 1978’s “Never Say Die!” and a tour. However, Ward would bow out before the album and the tour dates kicked off, announcing in early 2012 that he would “not participate in the reunion unless he is presented with ‘signable contract’ that ‘reflects some dignity and respect toward me as an original member of the band,'” Rolling Stone reported.
The band recorded the reunion album, “13,” with Brad Wilk of Rage Against The Machine filling in on drums. For the subsequent tour dates, Tommy Clufetos, who also plays in Osbourne’s own band, handled drum duties.
If Ward returns to Sabbath for the heavy metal masters’ finale, it wouldn’t be the first time. He left the band in the early 1980s after playing on just one post-Osbourne album after Ronnie James Dio replaced the ousted singer. And in 2006, when Dio, Iommi and Butler reformed the Dio-era Sabbath (they would later record and tour under the name Heaven and Hell), Ward was initially onboard but then quit.
“I was uncomfortable with some of the things surrounding that particular project. So, that was it. And I moved out,” Ward told the U.K.’s Rock Radio in 2010, according to Blabbermouth. “I thought Vinny [Appice] would be a much better choice, because Vinny is able to do those kinds of things… he’s able to accommodate the kinds of things that were being asked, and I’m not. I react. I’m a reactionary drummer, and Vinny plays drums; there’s a big difference between us.”
Original BLACK SABBATH drummer Bill Ward has hit back at the band’s singer, Ozzy Osbourne, over comments Ozzy made earlier this week in which the vocalist accused Ward of not being physically capable of doing the album and a 16-month tour.
On Thursday, April 16, Osbourne responded to an open letter posted by Ward on Facebook,
in which Ward said he would not consider rejoining the band unless Ozzy publicly apologized for what Ward perceived as a series of insults. Ozzy wrote, “I never wanted to discuss this in a public forum but Bill’s statements left me no option to but to respond honestly.”
He continued, “Wow, Bill, what the fuck are you on about? I cannot apologize for comments or opinions I may have made about you in the press during SABBATH’s ’13’ album and tour — physically, you knew you were fucked. Tony [Iommi, guitar], Geezer [Butler, bass] and myself didn’t think you could have done a two-hour set with a drum solo every night, so we made the decision to move on. With Tony’s condition, we felt that time was not on our side.”
Ozzy added, “Bill, stop this smokescreen about an ‘unsignable contract’ and let’s be honest. Deep down inside, you knew you weren’t capable of doing the album and a 16-month tour.”
Ozzy also pointed out that Ward was in the hospital several times in 2013, including one stint for shoulder surgery that “you’ve only just recovered from.”
Ozzy concluded, “Stop playing the victim and be honest with yourself and our fans. Bill, we go back a long way, let’s stop this now before it gets out of hand.”
In a brand new statement posted on Ward’s Facebook page, the drummer responded directly to Ozzy’s latest comments, denying that he was putting up a smokescreen about “unsignable contract” and insisting that he has “been honest with our fans on where I stand.”
Ward’s latest statement reads as follows:
“You never wanted to discuss in a public forum. BUT, you did by making all these public comments during your interviews for the ’13’ album and tour. I was only responding in kind. Don’t forget why I spoke out. If you had talked to me and shared your opinions privately, we wouldn’t be here today.
“I was ready and in shape to record. I knew I would need to get in better shape for the gigs — same as I have needed to do and have done in the past. I was beginning my workout regime to get ‘tour ready.’ I knew what I needed to do to play the gigs, and I was confident I would be ready. I would not commit to an extensive tour without believing I could go all the way with it. I wouldn’t do that to our fans.
“[The] shoulder surgery was not a surgery that was an immediate necessity, or an emergency, or something that was prohibitive in terms of playing drums in SABBATH. It wasn’t anything like that. I would have elected to do the surgery after we finished touring, but since that didn’t come to pass, I scheduled it for the fall of 2013. My other surgery, yes, was unexpected, but who among us knows what curveballs might be coming our way? Having had to recently cancel your own gigs, I think you could understand that and not hold someone to ‘what ifs.’
“The ‘unsignable’ contract isn’t a smokescreen — it’s the truth. I have been honest with our fans on where I stand. Your opinions of me are completely immaterial — they have nothing to do with my reason for not participating — the ‘unsignable’ contract — that’s it. I wonder if I had signed it if any of this would have come up? I imagine we would have made an album and done a tour with the original lineup in place.
“Hey Oz, it’s not going to work.
“I can see you, and, I read your statement.
“Boy oh boy.
“Well, I know I didn’t expect you to respond to my request of an apology. By the way, it’s pretty easy to go back and really look at what was truth and what was not.
“I notice you’re including Tony and Geezer in being in full agreement, that with my health condition I couldn’t have played a two-hour set with a drum solo. First time I’ve ever heard about a two-hour show with a drum solo. But I’m asking you, not them. Why did you stay in the studio working with me? Why did we go to England for band rehearsals in August 2011? Why did we continue rehearsing in the fall? Why did we make the announcement of 11/11/11? Why did you call me in late January 2012 asking me to come over to England to continue rehearsals? Why, if you thought I was so unhealthy, did you continue with me at all? You know why, Oz, because I was fine. I was playing. I was good to go. I ran into no, zero, health problems until October 22nd 2013.
“Oz, I could have played my ass off in 2012, all the way through to October 22nd 2013. The shoulder operation was optional. It was quiet and I needed a wear and tear adjustment. I was fine. I could have gone without surgery.
“But listen to you, hitting back and hard, too. I don’t believe a word of it.
“I am not an enemy. Eternity will show and serve as proof.
“None of it, Oz.
“I’m not going to own a fucking thing, other than I came into the studio initially overweight to tour, but not overweight to record. I was good to record. All of you know how much I put in, especially when I prepare to tour.
“Your own anticipatory fear has got you by the balls. What fucking smokescreen, about an unsignable contract.
“Yes, let’s get honest. I did. It came out in my statement Wednesday, April 15, 2015.
“I’m not playing (your quote). I never did. I don’t fuck with sincerity and honesty, period.
“I’ve done nothing but bring my truth to the fans.
“Man, you spin it real well.
“Sorry, I can’t love you back, Oz. I put my love for you somewhere safe inside my heart in 2012 when your stories started showing up.
“It’s hard to love someone who thinks he’s telling the truth by making false claims, elitist comments and just plain rude statements.
“It’ll show up, Oz, in your dreams, in your daily days.
“I’m clean and have nothing to feel doubtful about. All my actions have been of loyalty, honesty, and open-mindedness.
“Stay safe, old friend.
“Sad we couldn’t roll it out for the fans one more time.
“I read your speculation, and your ‘what ifs,’ your doubts. I’m about as far away from being a victim as I am from Hell itself.”