Original Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward is the only thing missing from Black Sabbath’s first #1 album in America, “13,” and the current tour the almost fully-reunited band is taking part in. Though Ward has defended his physical status, Ozzy Osbourne says it is because Ward is “incredibly overweight” and wouldn’t have been able to do a full gig.
Ward has said in an interview with Guitar International that he was not apart of the touring lineup because of a contract dispute. “”I was offered a contract, and I couldn’t sign it. I would never, ever show up for a commitment that I could not do physically. It was one of the toughest decisions that I ever had to make, because I absolutely and without question wanted to play.”
On the other hand, Osbourne has given a different reasoning. Speaking with the New York Daily News, Ozzy explains, ”I don’t think he could have done the gig, to be honest. He’s incredibly overweight. A drummer has to be in shape. He’s already had two heart attacks. I don’t want to be responsible for his life.”
Ozzy went on to say that the door is always open for Ward’s return and “it’s not the same” without him. This might be an area where the members agree. Ward is open to returning as well, but on the condition that he plays “all or nothing.”
In regards to Sabbath’s earliest rehearsals, Ozzy also said, ”We looked at Bill, and he couldn’t remember what the f*ck we were doing. 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.”
Ward came back and said that playing for only part of the set “would kind of be aligning to my demise in Sabbath and minimize me. I’m the drummer in Sabbath and quite capable of doing the job.”
Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine was the studio drummer for “13,” and Tommy Clufetos has been handling the work while Sabbath is on tour.
If there were ever to be a full reunion of Black Sabbath, Ward might need to get himself into better shape. After all, three 60+ year-old men is enough to worry about on stage during a two and a half hour set.