Bill Ward confirms he’s out of Black Sabbath
No go: Ward, left, with Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath have forgotten where they came from, says drummer Bill Ward, as he confirms he won’t participate in their reunion.
He reveals the band wanted him to play a “minimal” part in their Download festival headline slot – while another unnamed musician played the rest of the set.
And he adds the band asked him to appear at their homecoming gig in Birmingham for free.
Ward says he’s heartbroken that people who hoped to see the original lineup on stage in the coming months will be robbed of the experience.
Black Sabbath last year confirmed a new album was in the works which would be the first to feature Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Ward since 1979. The plan included a full world tour.
Later, guitarist Iommi’s cancer battle reduced the live itinerary to just three shows. But in the meantime, Ward told fans he hadn’t been able to cut a “signable” deal with his bandmates.
Now, after months of insisting his bags were packed and he was ready to play, he’s confirmed it won’t happen – and commiserates with followers who were hoping to see the band together on stage one last time.
Ward says: “I sincerely regret to inform you that after a final effort to participate in the upcoming shows, a failure to agree has continued. I won’t be playing at the Birmingham gig on May 19th, nor the Download festival. I will not be playing at Lollapalooza.
“I am passionate in my desire to play with the band and I’m very, very sorry. I was particularly excited to play alongside Tony after the recent treatments he underwent. I wanted that to become a reality.”
Ward says he felt duty-bound to confirm his absence after his brother was stopped in the street by a fan who demanded to know if the drummer would be part of at the Birmingham concert.
“The man’s son is a young drummer,” says the iconic sticksman. “He’s going to see Black Sabbath and he wants to see Bill Ward play drums. Upon hearing this news I felt horrible.
“I couldn’t help feeling some resentment towards the failure to reach an agreement, the failure to remember where we came from – the failure to be brothers, as we once were.”
He insists he levels no blame at his former bandmates, but he had to stand up for his own beliefs, saying: “It can’t be easy for them either. This situation is just really sad.”
But he reports: “In April I’d been asked to participate ‘minimally’ in the Download festival. I believe I’d been offered no more than three songs, while another drummer played the rest of the show with Black Sabbath.
“I was not willing to participate. I was not prepared to watch another drummer play a Sabbath set while I was to play only three songs.”
Discussing the band’s homecoming show he says: “The offer we received on May 9 was: ‘Come to the UK, play for free and see how the first show goes.’ I was tempted – playing for free would not have been a problem. But ‘seeing how the first show goes’ left an element of risk which could have affected Download.
“On the night of May 9 I asked for a letter to be sent to the representative, asking if we were at an end. On the morning of May 10 I received a reply in the affirmative. A decision was made to let go and stop.
“Saying ‘no’ to Birmingham is very difficult for me. My family grew up in Birmingham. Black Sabbath grew up in Birmingham.
“I can’t prioritise the Sabbath fans, making one show more important than the other. All of you are important – it’s all the gigs or none at all. I can’t come to Birmingham and ‘see what happens’ knowing there is a risk of not being able to play Download or Lollapalooza.”
Ward’s message to his audience is: “I don’t know how to amend my part in these failings other than to put my arms around you and say, ‘I love you,’ and let you know I’m very, very sorry.”
In a separate page on his website he thanks Osbourne, Butler and Iommi along with a number of his friends and family, including brother James, to whom he says: “We tried.”
Black Sabbath’s world tour has been replaced by an Ozzy Osbourne and Friends trek. The band are continuing work on the new album with producer Rick Rubin.