Why Bill Ward Matters

First off, to a lot of people, he doesn’t. For better or worse, probably the majority of those in the legions who would attend the original-member reunion Black Sabbath announced in November either don’t know or don’t care about “the drummer.” They’re there to see Ozzy Osbourne sing “Paranoid” and maybe watch Tony Iommi play the “Iron Man” riff. Geezer Butler‘s bass and Bill Ward‘s drumming are secondary concerns.

These casual fans, those who would just show up, probably don’t realize it was Butler who wrote the lyrics Osbourne sang or that the rhythm section played such a huge role in making Black Sabbath‘s earliest records — 1970’s Black Sabbath and Paranoid, 1971’s Master of Reality and 1972’s Vol. 4 — as heavy and groundbreaking and stylistically definitive as they were. And even if they did realize, or even if they heard the band themselves say so — I know Iommi said it flat out in the Classic Albums: Paranoid DVD — they still wouldn’t care.

Outside of the context of the heavy rock underground that still so vehemently flies the flag of and takes influence from those four albums in particular, Black Sabbath is a heavy metal footnote en route to Osbourne‘s solo career and the commercialization of metal that first took place in the ’80s and continues to this day. Black Sabbath is important, but they’re more important because Pantera or Slipknot or Metallica says they are than because Master of Reality was a life-changing event.

Last Thursday, when Bill Ward released his statement that the contract he was offered was “unsignable,” the internet almost immediately blew up with support for his case. My feed on Thee Facebooks — which, though I don’t use it as a measure of overall cultural relevance, at least lets me know what people are talking about — still has posts of pro-Ward propaganda memes like those I’ve included with this post: “Back Stabbath,” “No Bill Ward, No Black Sabbath,” “Bill Sabbath” t-shirts. Sloganeering from people who (I would say rightfully) appreciate Ward‘s contributions to the original lineup. In an era that produced many great British drummers — John Bonham, Carl Palmer, Ian Paice, etc. — Ward‘s work stands out as singularly characteristic. No one before or since sounds quite like him, executes a fill quite the same way or keeps the same kind of swaggering beat that makes “Lord of this World” one of the heaviest songs ever put to tape.

Iommi, Butler and Osbourne released a response to Ward expressing their regret that the drummer had, “declined publicly to participate in our current Black Sabbath plans.” Somewhat predictably, it wasn’t long before Sharon Osbourne was scapegoated as trying to ripoff Ward or pull some shady business deal. It was a quick leap from:


Sometimes I think “Sharon‘s a cunt” is the heavy metaller’s “These colors don’t run.” She’s enacted several truly despicable moves in the past — whether it was pelting Iron Maiden with eggs at Ozzfest or replacing the original drum and bass tracks on the first two Ozzy Osbourne solo records — and I think she often gets blamed for the tarnish to the public perception of Ozzy that came out of his buffoonish portrayal on the reality show The Osbournes, which saw him go quickly from the “Prince of Darkness” to a helpless, hapless oaf in the minds of fans and pop culture at large.

Blaming Sharon Osbourne for shrewd, callous or ethically questionable business decisions undertaken on behalf of her husband — she’s his manager, after all — is convenient, and sometimes, fun. She’s an easy scapegoat, and putting the fault on her saves longtime fans from accepting the reality that Ozzy himself — who’s nothing if not likable — is probably behind or at very least approving of what’s seen as happening completely without his input. Whether she’s a cunt or not, I don’t know. I’ve never met her or spoken to her, and I think a lot of women in business are open to being cast as bitches because of their gender where the same actions would be celebrated by their male counterparts. I’d have a hard time celebrating a dude for having Mike Bordin and Robert Trujillo replace Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake‘s recorded tracks, but I probably wouldn’t call him a cunt for having done it. An asshole, maybe.

So I don’t think it’s so much a question of whether or not Sharon Osbourne is at least occasionally a classless jerk — history bears out that opinion of her as it does of most of us — as it is of how the negative view of her is cast by fans of Black Sabbath and Ozzy. Yoko didn’t break up The Beatles and Sharon isn’t ruining Black Sabbath. I won’t pretend to know the complex personal and professional histories between the members of the band, but last I heard, Iommi owned the band’s name, and as he’s been the only consistent member throughout the band’s many lineup changes over the last four decades, it’s easy to assume he’s the one calling the shots, not Sharon, or even Ozzy.

Where that puts Ward‘s position in this whole thing, I don’t know. The perception when Heaven and Hell got going and Ward wasn’t involved was that the conflict was between he and vocalist Ronnie James Dio, but maybe that was only part of the story, or none of it at all. It seems like every time Black Sabbath picks up in one incarnation or another, Ward is a question. He initially left the Dio-fronted lineup of the band after 1980’s Heaven and Hell album, came back for 1983’s Born Again, left again, rejoined with the original lineup in 1997, then left citing health reasons, and intermittently took part in touring after that. When I saw them on Ozzfest in 2005, I remember thinking to myself that I should appreciate Ward‘s performance particularly, since I didn’t know when I’d see him play drums again.

Which I suppose brings us around to the original question at the top of this post: Why Bill Ward matters. Black Sabbath has a long history without him, and it’s not like he was writing the riffs or the lyrics or singing on the songs. Tommy Clufetos from Ozzy‘s solo band can play those parts convincingly — as could any number of other drummers, so if you’re going to say one particular lineup of Black Sabbath is definitive and the rest aren’t, well, there are a lot of people out there collecting royalties on Sabbath records they played on who’d probably argue the point.

Bill Ward matters in the songwriting. When Black Sabbath took the stage for their press conference/announcement last November, they established the premise of a new album with Iommi, Osbourne, Butler and Ward. Together with producer Rick Rubin and apparent fan ambassador Henry Rollins (who elected him to that role remains a mystery, but he keeps showing up in it), they discussed what a new Black Sabbath album with the original lineup would be, what it would sound like and how it would come together. They said, in effect, “We are a group of musicians who have come together to create something that is definitively Black Sabbath.”

If Black Sabbath is going to be defined then as the original lineup — and I’d gladly argue that was the tone of the press conference — then without Bill Ward‘s contributions to the songs in writing his own drum parts, the character of the band changes. It’s not the reunion they said it would be, but instead a new incarnation of the band that happens to be fronted by Osbourne and have Butler on bass. Those passionate about the idea of regrouping the original Sabbath are right to feel betrayed: Without Bill Ward in the songwriting process, they invariably won’t be getting the product they were promised.

And in that, Ward is not blameless. If he felt his contract untenable, he shouldn’t have taken the stage with the band in November and said he was on board for the reunion. However much you like these people or think they’re not out to screw you over — and however much they might not actually be — that’s just bad business, and a band that makes as much money as Black Sabbath does on a reunion tour is unavoidably a business. It’s naive to think otherwise.

Best case scenario for a new Black Sabbath album was that the original lineup put out a record that was a decent answer to Heaven and Hell‘s The Devil You Know, that wasn’t a complete AutoTuned embarrassment that sullied the already-tried legacy of the band’s highest creative peaks. But even so, the proposition was special because it was the four of them doing it. When I interviewed Eric Wagner in December, he discussed his relationship with his former bandmates in Trouble and said, ” Those four guys are the only ones who know what it was like to do what we did… I can talk to them and they know exactly what I mean and what it felt like and what we went through.”

No doubt in my mind that Tommy Clufetos is a capable drummer. He wouldn’t have been in Osbourne‘s band if he wasn’t. But in terms of the bond between the original members of Black Sabbath — everything they’ve seen and done together, how they’ve triumphed and fallen apart and hated each other and been best friends — no one else can stand in for Bill Ward. That’s why Bill Ward matters.

But not only that. Bill Ward matters to the fans. I’m not talking about the people above who show up on a Friday night because it’s something to do. I’m talking about those of us who, to one degree or another, live by this music. Ozzy Osbourne is a famous person; untouchable. Tony Iommi is a god; thoroughly unapproachable. Geezer Butler — bless his genius heart — is the (endearing) model for doom-dude awkwardness. Of the original four, Bill Ward is the one I believe most when he says he loves Black Sabbath‘s fans. Whether he actually does or not is a secondary concern at best — he engages the followers of Black Sabbath in a way and on a level that the other founding members simply do not.

For a band whose influence has had the cross-generational reach that Sabbath‘s has had, that’s an important function to play. Without Bill Ward, the fans to whom the band really matters can’t fool ourselves into thinking they’re doing it for any reason other than the money, and even if they worked everything out at this point and Ward rejoined the songwriting process and they picked up right where they left off before going to the UK to work on account of Iommi‘s lymphoma diagnosis and treatment, some of “the magic” is already gone.

That wouldn’t be the case if Bill Ward didn’t matter.

Iommi, Osbourne, Butler, Ward. Don’t promise Oreos if you’re bringing Chips Ahoy.

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45 Responses to “Why Bill Ward Matters”

  1. goAt says:

    I’m waiting for the Richie Blackmore/Michael Anthony/Bill Ward project…I believe it will be called “The Legitimizers.”

  2. Woody says:

    I heard Roland from Big Black is doing the tour.

  3. Tony Conley says:

    Great article. Very well written, and many, many great points. Three days ago, I started a Facebook page in support of Ward, but I am only attempting to preach peace, love, and reconciliation!! 35,000 members later, and I am convinced that Ward and Sabbath have the most loyal fans around!!

  4. Joel says:

    One fans opinion if it matters : calling this Black Sabbeth ” reunion ” without the original members is wrong. Now if Bill was dead, that would be understanable. Maybe if they are unable to reach an agreement , they should copy Genisis and called it the ” Then there was 3 ” tour. Van Halen touring without Micheal Anthony and calling it a ” reunion tour ” falls into the same catagory. I love the comment about John Bonham , ” do you think Zep would tour without him if he was still with us and NOT give him his fair share ? ” I think the fans would stand up for John, and need to stand up for Mister Ward.

  5. Graham says:

    Looking at the Ownership of Black Sabbath as an intellectual property, it is clear that Tony Iommi DOES NOT own the name.


    The UK registration for the use of the Black Sabbath name lies with John Michael Osborne. Aka Ozzy. Thus, as Sharon manages Ozzy…and Ozzy owns the name, Sharon as the manager of the owner of the name, manages the use of the name. And thus ALL decisions will lie with Sharon and – to a lesser extent – Ozzy.

    Sharon is thus responsible for this contractual dispute, and is to blame.

  6. John Carberry says:

    I, somewhere between 99.99 and 100%, agree. To use Sharon, no matter how much a bitch, as a scapegoat is utter bullshit.

  7. Jim Manzo says:

    It does matter and everything I just read is soo to the point I made on the first announcement of Bills departure. Sure you can just go ahead and write the album with just the three or even just the two. [Ozzy ,n Iommi] and just ad an old familiar replacements like Vinny or Carmine.

    It’s just, I knew when the day it was announced of the reunion back in November. I knew it would be Bill to blow this thing up. But I was wrong and it was Iommi’s health announcement that came before Bill’s. so regardless and to the point of my comment.

    With all this out-pour from the fans I hope the four can get it together with the super producer Rick and get us the album Black Sabbath promised in November.

    Deliver the goods and please make it great as we remembered when it all began.

  8. Ken Besold says:

    I’m not going if Bill isn’t there. All 4 or None. Yes I love Ozzy and Yes I love Tony and Geezer. But no Bill no tickets or new album will I not by

  9. Bill O'Sullivan says:

    Excellent article. I’m sure this Tommy Clufetos guy is a competent drummer, but every time I’ve seen Ozzy’s solo band live, and they play a few Sabbath songs, it sound like some kind of parody. Usually it’s played way too fast, and the drumming just feels wrong. Bill Ward has a kind of loose bounce that these metronome metal drummers of today don’t have. Call it sloppiness, but it’s that human element that made Sabbath great. Slightly out of tune, floppy strings, and a few botched drum fills to which they said “fuck it,” and left it on, made for the honest, raw and heavy Sabbath sound that the band has lacked since 1980. I think these modern drummers, particularly the drumming on Iommi’s album from 2000, play with a robotic sterility, and that’s the opposite of what the original Sabbath should stand for. However, if we’re gonna get the modern day, autotuned computer Ozzy that has characterized the last 10 years, then maybe the drumming is the least of my concerns. I’d rather have him sound like the withered old man he is than a modern pop singer on an album that professes to be The Original Black Sabbath

  10. Ron says:

    JJ, I was waiting to see if you would write a piece about this whole mess. Very well written (as always), and highlighting the point that the “die-hard” Sabbath fans feel. The classic rock radio circuit isn’t going to care who is playing drums. They just want to see Ozzy and Tony and hear Iron Man, Paranoid and War Pigs. Again it comes down to the lowest common denominator. It’s not about the fans who REALLY love Sabbath, the people who know the details, the people who’s lives and musical careers have been influenced and affected by the power of those first 6 albums. I for one am almost heart broken about all that has taken place, and like you said even if they cave in and take Bill back…..it’s already been tarnished. Over the years it seems Sabbath always finds a way to fuck things up, and this one will be their swan song.

  11. ransome says:

    I think you are missing the part where Sharon tried to sue Iommi for the name Black Sabbath.

    Sharon needs to step off, hell Ozzy needs to step off, outside of the studio, he has sounded like shit for decades.

  12. goAt says:

    Ozzy sounds like fuckin’ shit, regardless. This really is a moot discussion.

    We should be further lamenting the untimely passing of Ronnie James, and taking note of the fact that Mr.Iommi is not far behind…hungry for heaven, indeed.

  13. Fingers says:

    Very well done article. Thanks for saying it better than I could think it lol.

  14. Jeff says:

    >>Looking at the Ownership of Black Sabbath as an intellectual property, it is clear that Tony Iommi DOES NOT own the name.


    This looks like an application for the media/merchandising side of things, but apparently Iommi owns the name itself.

  15. eatmetalforlife says:

    You’d think that after all these years these four dudes have reached a degree of respect for each other and put themselves above all the shallow BS.

    And why are we still talking about Sharon Osbourne? Why is that Bitch or Cunt still a part of the conversation?

  16. Leonardo Cararo says:

    Bill or No one!

  17. SHOCKWAVE-17 says:

    Bill Ward has that off beat drum style no Ozzy ” fill in ” drummer has.
    It is that style that contributes to that English sound. I was in the studio while Sabbath recorded Technical Ecstasy and had first hand experience of the musical magic these four members as friends have.

  18. Victor Chiappetta says:

    Yes this is pathetic. What would be wrong with a 25×4 split, done deal. One quarter of a shitload of money is a shitload of money the last time I checked. They are all equally important. And cheers to the comment about today’s sterile drummers having no idea how to play Ward. Very few can pull it off. It wasn’t human error Ward had a jazzy bounce oozing out of his sticks that the new school couldn’t possibly imitate. Today’s metal drummers are the Al DiMeolas of percussion, stunning techniques but soul is lost in the perfection. I want Ward or nothing. And I LOVE Vinnie Appice, one of my all time fave, just a different animal is all. WARD RULES! Noone ever sounded like him.

  19. Martin says:

    I wish that Sharon would not interfere with this at all. This is a before she came along band that should be treated as if her dad was still their manager and everything should be split 25% all around. Ozzy can pay his manager with his portion. Money really shouldn’t be an issue anyway but why do the work if you are not paid equally. I just wish that Tony and Geezer would back Bill instead of allowing Tommy to come in so easily. Give Bill what he wants and move on. For Christ’s sake, Tony. You set the man on fire once. Give him a break.

  20. AZDarkblade says:

    I’ve been a Sabbath fan since 1976, and an Ozzy fan. I run a freaking fan club for him for Gods sake. This latest news about the stiffing of Bill REALLY burns me up BAD. I have been PRAYING ON MY FREAKING KNEES that something like this would be able to touch my hands again, an album written from the start by the four. WHAT THE FUCK! This is bull, that the man who is undeniably the most decent of them is having to resort to this is BULL! They are a team. Just because he’s the drummer does not mean he’s unimportant. He’s CRUCIAL to their sound. Shame on these men for yanking us diehards around like they have. This is the biggest bull I’ve experienced. I have waited 33 years for this, and now THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS???!!!!

  21. Was waiting for a response from the Taskmaster. Well worth it. Grounded in reality but a plea for a brighter future and to continue to worship the wonderful past.

  22. JimC says:

    This is so sad to hear… Out of all the bands from the 60’s early 70’s that are still touring, ‘I think’ the Black Sabbath is the only band with the original members.

    This is why Bill is so critical to this band … just watch him


  23. rICH vEGA says:

    One point noone has mentioned is this:

    There are probably a lot of people like me, never got a chance to see the original Sabbath. I WAS able to see Ozzy, and was also able to see Geezer and Tony with Dio in the Heaven & Hell show. However, I missed the first reunion and this would be the only chance for a lot of us too see him!!

  24. Andrew Crossburner says:

    If they insist on continuing without Bill they should atleast change the name of the band to “Travesty Sabbath” in order to properly reflect what this so-called reunion has thus far turned into, a false / distorted representation of what was originally promised. This entire situation has become no less than a slap in the face to all of Sabbath’s hard core fans and we deserve better, just as Bill deserves his fair share of recognition as a founding member with a contract reflecting that fact.

  25. Mike H says:

    Best piece I have read yet on this mess. Well said JJ.

    These reunions with less than all of the original members always get to me. Daltrey and Townsend touring as The Who. Shameful. VH without Michael Anthony is straight up bullshit…I think you get my point.

    This one stings more though because the band is so near and dear to my heart. Without Bill, the magic is lost.

    I do think Sharon has at least a part in this. From what I have read in the past, I think the contracts are written how she wants them, or there is no Ozzy. This is partly why previous attempts failed. It was “management.” It’s always management I think Tony said once. Well, Sharon is management. I think she plays the other three to make this as beneficial to her and Ozzy as possible. I would love to believe if Tony and Geezer knew Bill wouldn’t sign his contract neither would they. But your point about Bill appearing at the special announcement on 11/11/11 is right on.

    I think all parties have some blame in this. Bill’s only fault is getting our hopes up. Maybe his contract offer really was shit. Who really knows. I really hope it all gets sorted out. If so, I know I’ll be like a kid again with anticipation. If not…I’ll feel somewhat indifferent as I did the release of The Devil You Know.

  26. Cisco Pike says:

    I think you hit the nail on the head…Bill is the only drummer on this planet that actually bonded with the rest of the guys and it is reflected in the music they made together. Being in thier early 20s…jamming while on hash and acid, wide-open ensemble-styled playing with a definite swing…remember Geezer and Tony’s revolutionary riff style, having the guitar and bass play identical riffs in tandem, creating their own rhythmic juggernaut…Bill was there at the creation of that and to create his own beast to make it even bigger, filll in the negative space, make negative space, he had to make those riffs music…and he had to move the music, he had to swing… he had to take this monolith and move it around and only those you are truly bonded with know how to do it, like walking with other people with your legs tied together. Yeah, other drummers can play it, but no other drummers could create it. Unless you came of age as a musician and a human in the 60s/70s you can never truly fully experience creating music like that. You have to have ears from that era. Sure, lots of people can develop the skills and paint facsimiles of painting by the masters, but they didnt create it. Most true music fans know the difference. Black Sabbath is too important to substitute/change out its parts at this stage in the game. In 1980, it revitalized them…they had only been together a little over a decade and Ronnie was no mere replacement. This is different. It is 2012. There isn’t much time left on this planet for a Black Sabbath to roam it. This will probably be the last time. It needs to be whole to be strong. It needs Bill.

  27. Ryno says:

    I’m just stoked to see a story on here generate more than 20 responses!

    Great write-up.

    I hate to say it, but this is only about nostalgia. There is no way a new Black Sabbath album, even with the original lineup, is going to be what everyone wants it to be. Those first 4 albums are set in stone. Those old fuckers can try, but there is no way of capturing that kind of magic ever again. What they’re trying to do is convince everyone that it can be done. But it’s not for the right reasons. It’s not because they have all reached a creative overload and need to express their music. It’s so they can get paid.

    Good luck to Bill. He’s gonna need it.

    Fuck the lawyers.

  28. lifer says:

    I can’t really add anything. You totally nailed it in this article. Great job, brother.

  29. Samifesto says:

    Well written article that explains why an album and tour of this nature needs to play on our – the fans – emotions and imaginations. Loosing Bill Ward looses a part of that connection that it should have with us, the hardcore.

    I have been a Sabbath fan since I was 12 in 1994. I have every album, and I even like the Martin ers. I can definitively say that I will not be buying a new album, nor will I be attending any of the shows because of this fiasco.

    Moreover, Sabbath now have an excuse as to why – and this is what I fear will happen – the new music is substandard. The new music should have been an outcome of the feel of the four of them in a room together. Now, even more so, it will probably end up in Psycho Man / Selling My Soul territory… Ozzy solo-sounding material with an Iommi riff. Urgh.

  30. Gio says:

    Without Ward don’t exist Black Sabbath…
    Simply, no more words to spend…
    Hail Bill!

  31. ZA. says:

    Seeing the original line-up in 2005 made me weep like a child, something that has never happened to me EVER at a show.
    No goofy-ass metal drummer is gonna do that to me, and at 65€ a ticket, I’m feeling jibbed big time. I don’t give a crap about a new record, I just want to see the original 4 members tear it up one more time. NO WARD, NO SABBATH.

  32. Jerry says:

    NO BILL WARD=NO $$$$$$$$ (from MY wallet!)

    F*** the new CD and F*** the tour. SHAME on whomever is shanking Mr. Ward for the mighty dollar. Doesn’t Ozzy and Sharon have ENOUGH f”ing money???. Do right by Bill or retire the band. God bless and quick healing to Tony!

  33. simso says:

    naive as it sounds, i just find it such a shame that a group of musicians with such a legacy and with such influence, can allow this reunion to turn into such a farce. as usual in the world of rock music, it all seems to now be about money. not that im saying bill isnt entitled to his ,albeit, large cut, he is, but the fact that for one reason or another, someone with great influence in the sabbath camp thinks he is not entitled. havent they all made enough money by now? didnt the music mean anymore to them than this? it obviously did to all of us! if bill isnt going to do this reunion, i have no doubt it will be some drum hotshot with none of the imagination or rough edges that made bills drumming such a joy to hear. fuck it, get dave grohl! im sure he’d love to have sabbath on his cv, hes crawled up every other big bands butt in the last 10 years. not only that, but it’d get a bit more interest from the younger generation. im sure its been mentioned behind closed doors already. no fucking dignity.

  34. Jordi says:

    Awesome article, and I also coincide with lots of people here. Hope it can all be resolved gracefully and us who live in the farthest corners of the world have the chance to see history before our eyes.
    Cheers from Chile!

  35. Milk K. Harvey says:

    Absolutely good. Thanks.

  36. Rachel Kuperberg says:

    This is extremely well-written, and I agree with everything. Bill Ward is the only member to show any kind of appreciation at all to the fans, and he does so with incredible sincerity. I’m 48 years old and have loved Sabbath since my teens. I’ve seen every possible line up of Sabbath over the years and was lucky enough to see the reunion tour in 1999. It’s the “feel” of the original members…the chemistry, and there’s nothing else like it that I’ve ever experienced. They are all brilliant musicians in their own right (and Tony Iommi is DEFINITELY God), but I want my 8-year old son to experience the wonder that is the original Sabbath…the whole-body chills…the soothing comfort that only they can provide. I don’t think he’s going to get that chance. His favorite song is Symptom of the Universe. My favorite is Hand of Doom. Maybe Sabbath was trying to tell us something.

  37. Eric says:

    This is quite well written, and I like the tone of this article. It does end up being rather biased towards Bill Ward but doesn’t get as NASTY as some people are. I’m personally buying the new CD, and already have my tickets to see them in August as I am a BIG fan of Tony Iommi. I did want to point out one little mistake in this article. Bill Ward did indeed sing on a couple of Sabbath’s songs, the most notable & beautiful is “It’s Alright” from the Technical Ecstasy album.
    Oh, and thanks for shining a light on the bass & drum tracking issue on Ozzy’s first two albums. That really PISSED ME OFF when it happened and I made sure to get a mint used copy of the original Blizzard CD, I’ve always had Diary for some reason.

  38. Alberto says:

    All songs written and composed by Black Sabbath (Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne, Bill Ward). That’s how it appears on every record of the original Sabbath. Plus, Bill Ward appears on more albums than Ozzy himself. Why should Bill Ward receive less that the other three? Shame on Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler, shame on them. I will still be rockin’ and playing, and singing Black Sabbath until the day I die, there’s no question, but these three guys as persons, are worthless. Where is the respect for the drummer? As the article say, as a hardcore rock fan, you can tell Bill Ward’s drumming from any other as much as you can tell Ian Paice, Keith Moon, Ginger Baker, John Bonham. He certainly is not a drummer, he is Black Sabbath’s drummer, who created and molded a unique way to put drums into songs. He is from the era when rock was being created out of nowehre, when creativity and originality were the word of the day. He is a drummer that 40 years later is still looked up to by other drummers like myself. Man, I’d love to play like he played on that Paris ’70 videos, that is rock drums at their best.

    And still they throw him a unfair deal? What a disappointment, really.

  39. Jay says:

    Since we still don’t know the exact details of Ward’s “unsignable” contract, it’s hard to know what he was asking for and felt he didn’t receive. Were they offering him less money than they were taking for themselves? If so, that is wrong. Ward deserves just as much as the others, no doubt. I agree that Ward shouldn’t have gone up on stage and said he was back in the band if he hadn’t gotten his contract dealings settled first. It’s one thing for Van Halen to come back with David Lee Roth and say, straight out, Wolfgang is our new bass player… but Black Sabbath told everyone that all 4 members were back. And then just as quickly Ward pulls out. I certainly have a lot of respect for Ward as a player and as a person, and it definitely sounds like he’s getting screwed… but I still have to wonder if maybe he should have, at least, made the album with the guys, even if he decided that he couldn’t go out on tour with them due to the failings of the contract. Being that Iommi is sick, and seeing how long it took for them to finally make a new album, this could very well be the final time all 4 could have gotten together. Even if it meant him having to swallow his pride, or at least compromise (album but no tour), I wonder if he might regret (especially if Iommi were to not make it, God forbid) not making one last great album together.

  40. Merrits Girlfriend says:

    Great article JJ. The only thing I disagree with is the fact that you focused only on the first four albums as being influencial. I would argue that the first SIX albums should be in that category. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Sabotage are amazing records. As disappointed as I am that Bill won’t be joining them on 13, I will still buy it because Tony and Geezer are still the best! Arguing over whether or not it’s Black Sabbath is just dumb. Was it Sabbath when Ronnie and Vinnie joined for Mob Rules and Heaven and Hell? Was it Sabbath when Ian sang on Born Again? In my humble opinion, its Black Sabbath if Tony and Geezer are there.

    • will says:

      Funny you say that, because it’s a little known, covered up fact that Craig Gruber wrote and recorded the majority of the bass lines for Heaven & Hell and was paid off by Don Arden’s minions to sign over his rights to writing credits when they coaxed Geezer back into the band. And Bill claims not to remember recording the album at all due to drugs and alcohol… Which is suspicious as well. That being said, REAL Black Sabbath is Ozzy, Tony, Geezer and Bill… Without exception. Just because you like it doesn’t make it the same band. At some point, it becomes just a brand name.

  41. EDUARDO says:


  42. Jijja says:

    I think people are reading way to much into it.

    I am a long time fan of the original line up and I just think that Bill maybe appeared as the most risky member to bring back in terms of history of reunions….. And probably had some niggling little terms in the contract which he felt took the piss and told them to fuck off.

    If you did Bill then Fair play, I would have done the same.

    I’m gutted you didn’t take part in the album or tour Bill as I purchased 13 and I’m going to see the “Sharon Osbourne All Stars” in December at Sheffield UK.

    Love Black Sabbath to the bone.

    Chin up all…….At least they recorded some albums.

  43. J Smith says:

    Whether or not my emails would matter or connect, I recently left emails with Geezer, Sharon , + Bill Ward himself, making a case that Bill should do at least two shows, before this tour ends, if for no other reason, historical reasons, and of course the fans.

    Don’t predict, looks as if it might be the last tour based on coments, (ie), from Gezzer.

    In addition to having had so many years together, for the sake of history, entertainment history, a well recorded two show event with Bill would close the chapter as a complete unit.

    The loudest insturment on (studio original) Heaven & Hell is Bill’s drums; heard an early live version, played like the original, and the drums were not “mic (ed)” well; could barely hear Bill.

    It completely changed the song, the difference was like night and day.

    I am still looking for footage of the 1980 H&H tour with Bill on the kit, very difficult to find.


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