Black Collar Workers


  • Axl Rosenberg


UPDATE, 2:06 pm: Reader Joe Siegler tells me that Ward didn’t “hold out” in ’97 — he was never asked to re-join the band. I apologize for my lapse in knowledge of Sabbath reunion lore. If he really wasn’t asked in 1997, that makes this whole thing all the more dramatic and dispiriting. Original story follows below…

Hope you weren’t too excited about Bill Ward participating in the upcoming Black Sabbath reunion.

Ward has always been the hold-out with these reunions. He didn’t participate when the band got back together for Ozzfest in ’97 (although by 1998, he had indeed rejoing the band), and he wasn’t a part of Heaven & Hell, the Dio-era Sabbath reunion, either. Now, according to a statement on his website, he may not be part of the Sabbath’s recently announced new album and tour, either:

Dear Sabbath Fans, Fellow Musicians and Interested Parties,

At this time, I would love nothing more than to be able to proceed with the Black Sabbath album and tour. However, I am unable to continue unless a “signable” contract is drawn up; a contract that reflects some dignity and respect toward me as an original member of the band. Last year, I worked diligently in good faith with Tony, Ozzy and Geezer. And on 11/11/11, again in good faith, I participated in the L.A. press conference. Several days ago, after nearly a year of trying to negotiate, another “unsignable” contract was handed to me.

Let me say that although this has put me in some kind of holding pattern, I am packed and ready to leave the U.S. for England. More importantly, I definitely want to play on the album, and I definitely want to tour with Black Sabbath.

Since the news of Tony’s illness [sic], and the understanding that the band would move production to the U.K., I’ve spent everyday getting to or living in a place of readiness to leave. That involves something of a task, and as I’ve tried to find out what’s going on with the U.K. sessions, I’ve realized that I’ve been getting “the cold shoulder” (and, I might add, not for the first time). Feeling somewhat ostracized, my guess is as of today, I will know nothing of what’shappening unless I sign “the unsignable contract.”

The place I’m in feels lousy and lonely because as much as I want to play and participate, I also have to stand for something and not sign on. If I sign as-is, I stand to lose my rights, dignity and respectability as a rock musician. I believe in freedom and freedom of speech. I grew up in a hard rock/metal band. We stood for something then, and we played from the heart with honesty and sincerity. I am in the spirit of integrity, far from the corporate malady, I am real and honest, fair and compassionate.

If I’m replaced, I have to face you, the beloved Sabbath fans. I hope you will not hold me responsible for the failure of an original Black Sabbath lineup as promoted. Without fault finding, I want to assure everyone that my loyalty to Sabbath is intact.

So here I am. I lay my truth down before you. I’m good to go IF I get a “signable” contract. I don’t want to let anyone down, especially Black Sabbath and all the Sabbath fans. You know I love you. It would be a sad day in Rock if this current situation fell to the desires of a few.

My position is not greed-driven. I’m not holding out for a “big piece” of the action (money) like some kind of blackmail deal. I’d like something that recognizes and is reflective of my contributions to the band, including the reunions that started fourteen years ago. After the last tour I vowed to never again sign on to an unreasonable contract. I want a contract that shows some respect to me and my family, a contract that will honor all that I’ve brought to Black Sabbath since its beginning.

That’s the story so far.

Stay safe and stay strong.

I love every single one of you.

–Bill Ward

I really don’t know enough about what’s going on behind the scenes to speculate as to whether or not Ward is actually being “greed-driven” or what, but it’s hard not to find it at least a little suspicious that he is, as I said, ALWAYS the hold-out. That being said, he’s certainly entitled to his piece of the pie, so, uh… yeah. I dunno, I dunno.

While we wait to see how this now-very-public game of chicken turns out, we can play the fun game of speculating as to who will take his place should he end up not participating in this latest reunion. Mike Bordin sat in for him back in ’97; Bordin is probably free right now, since Faith No More doesn’t seem busy. But he obviously got the gig fifteen years ago ’cause he was Ozzy’s drummer, which he isn’t anymore. Ozzy’s current drummer, Tommy Clufetos, would obviously be a suitable candidate, too…

…but my gut tells me that the absolute best choice would be Vinny Appice, who both filled-in for Ward following his 1998 heart attack (the one time that Ward sat out a Sabbath tour for reasons that did not seem at all business related*), and, of course, ended up being the drummer in Heaven & Hell, too.

I’ll guess we’ll see how this all pans out in the next couple of weeks.


*I know that someone will point out that Ward allegedly decided not to play with Heaven & Hell due to “musical differences.” And if you believe that, I have a ticket to an Appetite for Destruction-era Guns N’ Roses reunion I’d like to sell you.

[via Metal Insider]


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