Bill Ward Wants to Make New Music with Black Sabbath
Original Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward wants to make new music with the band.
While that statement on its own might not seem particularly out of the ordinary, history is everything. And there’s a whole lot of history between Ward and Sabbath that make such an occurrence unlikely.
Ward did not participate in Black Sabbath’s final tour, dubbed “The End,” which ran through 2016 and 2017, but not by his own choosing. He claimed at the time that he was offered an unfair deal while everyone else in the band said he was physically unfit to play a two hour set every night. Ward pushed back heartily on the latter accusation, saying, “I am completely capable of touring.” (Ozzy solo drummer Tommy Clufetos took his place).
Despite Ward’s complaints, he and the rest of the band members remained on cordial enough terms to appear together at a Grammy event in 2019. From the public perspective, at least, the decision not to include Ward in the final run appeared truly about his physical abilities.
A few years later, Ward, who is now 73 years old, finally conceded that he was not in tour drumming shape, admitting, “I don’t have the chops, and I don’t have the ability to drive a band like that on stage.” He also stated his desire to make new music with the band, saying, “I would love to do a studio album with Sabbath, with all the original members. I’m just saying that — I’m just floating that out there,” adding that he hadn’t talked to the other members about it.
And now he’s doubling down on that desire. At least this time he’s spoken to some of the other members… although not specially about making new music with them (but he says he’s conversed with management about it).
Ward did not appear on Sabbath’s last studio album, 13, which came out in 2013, citing a contractual dispute. Nor did he appear on Forbidden (1995), Cross Purposes (1994), Dehumanizer (1992), Tyr (1990), Headless Cross (1989), The Eternal Idol (1987), or Seventh Star (1986). You’ve got to go all the way back to Born Again, released in 1983, for Ward’s last performance on record with the band. No wonder he’s so eager.
Speaking to the U.K.’s Metro, Ward explained of his current relationship with at least two of the other original Sabbath members:
“I talked to Ozzy two nights ago. A lot of things have crossed between us and there’s new boundaries that I’ve had to build, but I don’t think any less of them. I’ve been working with Tony since 1964 when I was 16 years old. They’re my brothers and I love them.”
On the idea of making new music with those brothers, he said:
“As far as I’m concerned, the book’s never closed with Sabbath. I’m writing like a demon, I’m living life.
“My biggest contention has been, ‘Let’s make another album.’ Nothing live necessarily, because I’m looking at what I can realistically do. The way I play the drums, it’s becoming tougher as I get older. I haven’t spoken to the guys about it, but I have talked to a couple of people in management about the possibility of making a recording. Which I can do safely, even with Covid around. I can lay track at my studio in Los Angeles. I’m very open-minded about doing something like that.”
While the idea of new Black Sabbath might appeal to Ward, it likely ends there. Ozzy is busy making another solo album to follow up his 2020 return-to-form, Ordinary Man, and has a bunch of his own tour dates on the books (if he’s healthy enough to do them, having experienced a cascade of medical events the past few years). Meanwhile, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler haven’t given any indication lately they’d be interested in new Sabbath music.
But ya never know, I guess. Maybe these guys’ll get together for one final effort before they’re all 80.