BLACK SABBATH singer Ozzy Osbourne spoke to Mojo magazine about original drummer Bill Ward‘s decision to bow out of the band’s reunion early last year.
The drum tracks on BLACK SABBATH‘s first LP with Ozzy since 1978, “13”, were laid down by RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE sticksman Brad Wilk.
Ozzy‘s touring drummer Tommy Clufetos sat behind the kit for SABBATH‘s three shows last year — a warm-up gig in Birmingham, England, a headlining spot at the U.K.’s Download festival in June, and a second headlining set at Chicago’s Lollapalooza in August — and is currently on the road with the band in Australia.
Regarding Ward‘s absence from the SABBATH reunion, Ozzy told Mojo: “I guess it’s to do with finances or something. But 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 because he was so out of condition and the drummer is the most demanding job in the whole band. We looked at Bill, and he couldn’t remember what the fuck we were doing. But 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.”
He continued: “I get where he’s coming from, though. His pride was hurt 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. … You know them yellow fucking 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?’ (He said) ‘I’ll know.’ Ah, OK great. I’m not gonna give Bill a hatchet job, but at the same time we haven’t got the patience to deal with it.”
Ward in May 2012 announced again that he was declining to join his former bandmates for its scheduled 2012 dates, as well as the recording of a new album, due to a contractual dispute.
He also allegedly had his lawyers direct SABBATH to remove him from photos of the band posted at the official BLACK SABBATH web site “so as to not give the public the wrong impression about his involvement in the current BLACK SABBATH lineup,” according to a statement issued by the band’s publicist.
Bassist Geezer Butler issued a lengthy retort at his own web site, writing that Ward “hadn’t told any one of us he was having contractual problems, and frankly those things are worked out between our representatives, and never between the four of us, let alone in public.”
Until now, Iommi told The Pulse Of Radio a while back that the members of SABBATH stayed friendly even when there were legal or other issues going on. “We’ve always been talking. We’ve always been in touch with each other,” he said. “There might be a lawsuit in the thing between us, but we still talk to each other like nothing’s happened, you know.”
Asked if there is any chance of Ward rejoining the band, Iommi said last October, “We’ll always have a heart for Bill, but I think it’s gone past that now, because it’s gone on so long that I don’t see that happening at the moment. Maybe at some point we might [play together again].”