Original BLACK SABBATH drummer Bill Ward insists that he is “quite capable of playing a complete” show with the group, despite his bandmates’ assertion to the contrary.
Ward was on board for the SABBATH reunion when it was first announced in November 2011, but backed out soon after. He later claimed that he sat out the recording and touring sessions because of unfair contractual terms, although the members of SABBATH have hinted in other interviews that he wasn’t physically up to the task.
SABBATH has used singer Ozzy Osbourne‘s regular touring drummer Tommy Clufetos since then for live work. RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE‘s Brad Wilk laid down the drum tracks on the band’s comeback album, “13”, which came out in June 2013.
It was rumored that SABBATH wanted to bring a second drummer on the road to share duties with Ward, which he allegedly balked at.
Asked in a brand new interview with Rolling Stone magazine if he would be in shape right now to rejoin BLACK SABBATH, Ward responded: “Absolutely, yeah. I have no doubt in my mind. I know that they’ve suggested that I played half the gig, and I don’t want to play half the gig. I’m quite capable of playing a complete fucking BLACK SABBATH set. So this health thing has been bandied around, and it’s true that I have heart disease, and it’s true that I did get sick a couple of years after the fact. But when the health card is being thrown around, the bottom line is that I really tried to take care of myself. Every day, I always look at the day and say, ‘Could I have played a gig today no matter what’s going on with me?’ And the answer is always, ‘Yes.’ I’m much harder on me than those guys could ever be.”
Ward also talked about Ozzy‘s claim that the drummer was “incredibly overweight.” Bill said: “The truth is that I was overweight for playing onstage, but I wasn’t overweight for the studio. I could cut tracks with the weight that I arrived at. All of those guys know that I have a really rigorous exercise regimen.”
He continued: “In August 2011, I started to drop weight because, at that point, I thought, ‘OK, we’re probably at five or six months away from actually doing a tour.’ When we were in England, I was walking six miles before breakfast, I was doing bench presses, I was walking possibly two to three miles in the evening, and I was playing, like, three to four hours a day.”
Asked what would have made the contract “signable” for him, Ward said: “I wanted to earn some better money than we had been in the past for festival gigs. I think it was somewhere like $80,000 for the festivals, which I can hear everybody gasp now, but $80,000 is not a lot of dough when you’re playing festivals. And for all the other gigs in between, I was prepared to negotiate in a correct and proper manner.”
He continued: “And I would like to be included in some publishing and want my name and likeness to have a secure contract because the name and likeness has been a problem in the past. I’m paid a flat fee for my name and likeness on merchandise, and we’ve been fighting with the lawyers to try to have a correct contract to use my name and likeness. That’s been going on for fucking years. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work.”
Ward added: “I also wanted a little piece of the action in publishing [songwriting revenue]. It was just a gesture of good faith that ‘drumming means writing.’ If you’re laying a track, you’re writing. I don’t play beats. I hate playing beats. I’m an orchestration drummer. I’m a musical drummer. I’m a visionary drummer and I have been for a long, long, long time. I was asking for recognition. Nothing of what I asked for is exorbitant, wrong or over the top. I thought I was actually very reasonable.”
Osbourne yesterday responded to an open letter posted by Ward on Facebook earlier this week, 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 on Facebook, “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.”
Ozzy told The Pulse Of Radio during the “13” tour that Ward was not in shape to participate. “Bill Ward has got the most physically demanding job of the lot of us, ’cause he’s the timekeeper,” he said. “I don’t think personally he had the chops to pull it off, you know. The saddest thing is that he needed to own up to that, and we could have worked around it, whether we had a drummer on the side with him or something.”