We feared that Tony Iommi’s current battle with lymphoma would stall the original Black Sabbath lineup’s plans for 2012 (including a new album). As it turns out, though, it could be Bill Ward who ends up stalling things. In what seems like a move that came out of nowhere, the drummer released a statement claiming that he may be “forced” to sit out of the upcoming Black Sabbath reunion due to legal and contract issues.
Here is the entire statement Ward has just released:
“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, and the understanding that the band would move production to the U.K., I’ve spent every day 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’s happening 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.”
This is truly a shame in so many ways. For one, it’s showing a truly ugly side behind this reunion that we doubt anyone really wanted to believe was happening. And let’s be honest, while I’m sure now the Sabbath camp will want to figure out a way to work it out with Ward, it also wouldn’t be the first time they’ve went forward with “reunion” shows without him (having done so with Ozzfest 1997 and originally planning to do so for Ozzfest 2004 until Ward signed back on).
At this moment, the remaining members of Sabbath have yet to comment on Ward’s statement. Sadly, we’ll have to wait longer to find out how this will affect Sabbath’s plans for recording and touring.
UPDATE: The remaining three members have announced that they will continue on without Bill Ward.