Bill Ward pulls out of Black Sabbath gigs
It hasn’t looked good for drummer Bill Ward to play with his Black Sabbath bandmates ever since February when he brought up that he would not participate in the band’s mini-reunion tour unless he received a “signable contract.” He put the final nail in his participation in the reunion coffin with an emotional new missive on his website, posted Wednesday and addressed to “Sabbath Fans and Fellow Musicians.”
“I sincerely regret to inform you that after a final effort to participate in the upcoming Sabbath shows a failure to agree has continued,” Ward writes.
The tour starts this Saturday, May 19 in Birmingham, England and includes gigs at the Download Festival in Donington Park, England, on June 10 and Lollapalooza in Chicago on Aug. 3. The band, which includes original members Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, and Tony Iommi, who is well enough to play after being diagnosed with lymphoma, initially announced a new album and tour last November. The group planned to play Coachella, but had to pull out while Iommi was receiving treatment. Then, in February, Ward brought up needing a contract and it looks like the negotiations proceeded in fits and starts before the clock ran out last week.
Ward further writes that he was offered the opportunity to only play three songs at the Download festival, while another drummer played the rest of the set, and that, communication between him and the rest of the band, is so bad that he only found out about the Birmingham gig through an Internet ad.
Ward’s participation had been in doubt for months after he insisted upon a contract. That had lead to fractious, on-and-off-again negotiations, which his website letter indicates went right up until May 10. The band’s rep asked him to come to the U.K. and play the Birmingham show for free and “see how the first show goes.” He adds that he was willing to play for free, but that the doubt that he would play the Download and Lollapalooza festivals was too upsetting for him to agree.
“I hold no malice or resentment towards the other band members,” writes Ward in the heartfelt letter. “I love them; I'm tolerant of them; I'm frustrated with them, as they may be with me. My fight has never been with them. I'll love them forever. In my opinion, nobody wins this time; the band doesn't win; the fans for an original lineup don't win. Nobody wins, nobody. Even the ones who thought they did. I didn't want to make this decision, but I have to be honest and transparent. This is the statement I didn't want to write; it's the last thing I wanted to do. But, I have written it, and now it can go into the universe."