Had to ask: Iommi, Osbourne and Butler
Ozzy Osbourne says he, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler doubted that Bill Ward could play his full part in the Black Sabbath reunion.
And the singer has suggested that there was more to the drummer’s lack of involvement than a straightforward contract argument, observing that the drummer “can’t be surprised that he didn’t get the gig.”
Ward bowed out soon after the metal giants announced they’d be making a new album together. The project has continued without him and 13 – featuring Rage Against The Machine’s Brad Wilk behind the kit – is released on June 10.
Osbourne accepts part of Ward’s reason for declining to take part was indeed contractual: in 2012 he said he hadn’t been offered a deal he regarded as “signable.”
But the frontman tells Mojo, via Blabbermouth: “There was also another side to it. When Bill came along, we all had to ask, ‘Can he do an hour-and-a-half, two-hour gig? Can he cope?’
“My suggestion was that we run through a set and see how he got on. He was so out of condition – and the drummer is the most demanding job in the whole band.
“Bill couldn’t remember what the fuck we were doing. You know them yellow stick-on memo notes? He had them all over his fucking drums. I was like, ‘What the fuck’s that for, Bill?’ He said, ‘I can’t remember what I’m doing.’
“I go, ‘How are you gonna remember out of those 500,000 bits of paper stuck all over your kit, which one you’re looking at, Bill?’ ‘I’ll know.’ ‘Ah, okay – great.’”
Osbourne further says that Ward didn’t discuss the matter with his bandmates – and things could have been different if he had. “He didn’t come clean and say, ‘I can’t cut this gig, but can we work something out, guys, where I’ll come on but with another drummer backing me up?’ Or, ‘I’ll come and play a few songs.’ That would have been cool.”
But that’s not to say the singer blames his old colleague. “I get where he’s coming from – his pride was hurt,” he reflects. “And I get it. I really do get it. The guy will always be a dear, dear friend and a brother to me.
“But he can’t be surprised that he didn’t get the gig. I’m not going to give Bill a hatchet job, but at the same time we haven’t got the patience to deal with it.”
Producer Rick Rubin recently explained why he wanted Ginger Baker to play drums for Sabbath, but that Wilk was also one of his suggestions. Sabbath tour the UK in December.