One of the defining forces in heavy metal, Black Sabbath will embark on one last tour in 2016 before leaving the road life behind them. It appears to be all or nothing when it comes down to a hypothetical reunion with original drummer Bill Ward, and according to guitarist Tony Iommi the odds don’t seem to be in favor of such a homecoming.
While speaking with Gigwise on the red carpet at this year’s Q Awards in London, England, Iommi first discussed his thoughts on reconvening with Ward at the Ivor Novello Awards earlier in 2015. “It was good. It was really great to see Bill,” said Iommi. “I mean, Bill and I stayed in contact. Not as much as we used to, but we do stay in contact. But it was really nice to see him, and it was just a nice warm feeling to be with Bill again.”
When pressed on whether it would be possible for Ward to rejoin Black Sabbath for their final tour, Iommi didn’t offer promising news. “No, to be honest. I don’t know if that’s gonna happen. But who knows? You never know.”
The major indifference standing in the way, as far as the public has been told, is that Black Sabbath has yet to offer Ward with a fair touring contract. Ward was initially onboard for a full fledged Sabbath reunion when the original incarnation stood together on December 12, 2012 to announce a new album and tour, however would later back out when reportedly offered a contract where Ward would only be allocated a portion of each live show to perform before a stand-in would be introduced.
Sabbath’s alleged reasoning for such an action, again implied by Ward, was that the remainder of the lineup claimed Ward was not in fair shape to make a new album and head out for a full-length tour without fail. These are claims which Ward has continued to deny strongly, including during a recent conversation with Ghost Cult magazine.
“I was never in a position where I was never able to drum. It’s really sad that those statements made about me that inferred that I wasn’t able to drum,” explained Ward. “When I’m in the studio, I can play in the studio. I was laying down tracks. We settled in 2011. By August 2011, I was already training and getting trained. You have to ramp up to go out on tour so that takes a different attitude. I started getting into shape for a tour. Touring is completely different to me than being in the studio. So I was already doing that work.”
Those aforementioned claims were publicly voiced by Sabbath lead vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, who told The Pulse of Radio: “Bill Ward has got the most physically demanding job of the lot of us, ’cause he’s the timekeeper. 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.”
Black Sabbath would go on to record their 2013 comeback album ’13’ without Ward behind the skins, instead enlisting Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine to stand in. While embarking on an extensive tour in support of the record, Black Sabbath would enlist the aid of Tommy Clufetos, drummer for Osbourne’s solo band.