Bill Ward: 'I Play All or Nothing'

The drummer opens up about his Sabbath's reunion no-Show.

Ultimate Guitar

In an interview to promote his new rhythm art project, original Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward explains why he passed on participating in the band's reunion album, "13," and tour.

"I was offered a contract and I couldn't sign it," Ward tells Guitar International (via Ultimate Classic Rock). "As for some of the stories I would never, ever show up for a commitment that I could not do physically. So that should answer that one.

"In the statement that I did last year, I was quite clear that I came to the end of the road and promised myself and my family that I would never sign a contract that was not workable. It was one of the toughest decisions that I ever had to make. Because I absolutely and without question wanted to play. I haven't left the band. Everybody thinks I have left the band. I didn't walk out; it wasn't like that at all. I just didn't sign the contact and life took its own course."

As a result of Ward's decision, Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler recorded with Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine, while Ozzy's solo drummer, Tommy Clufetos, began handling live dates, including the recently-launched North American tour.

There's been talk that the band wanted Ward to join them on the road but only play a few songs each night. "I'm the drummer in Black Sabbath so I want to do the entire show," he explained. "I play all or nothing. Playing partially 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."

32 comments sorted by best / new / date

    13 was alright. It was missing that Ward touch but the riffs and songs were pretty solid. Sharon needs to pull her head out of her ass and see that Sabbath was a democracy and one of the most powerful 4 pieces because of every member involved- its not an Ozzy comeback vehicle and was never centered around a core member.
    Sharon has nothing to do with Black Sabbath, she only manages Ozzy. Why does everyone want to point the blame at her? She had nothing to do with Bill Ward or his contract.
    Actually she DOES manage Sabbath, so while he is still pointing blame, he at least knows who he feels should be blamed.
    Amazing drummer, one of the best of all time, very original. Sabbath were a blues hard rock band with a jazz drummer, but now they are a blues hard rock band with average rock drummers playing for them. I liked 13 but it was really lacking in the drum department.
    According with the others, Bill isn't capable. So it's a case of he said-they said.
    Just saw them last night in W.Palm Beach, there is no way a 65 year old drummer could have gotten thru that gig, it was a solid 80 minutes of heavy metal with almost no breaks between songs. This isn't the Stones or the Eagles we're talkin about, this is Black Sabbath.
    Oh, hi there Nicko McBrain and Neil Peart.
    Yeah but these guys have been playin consistently over the years, unlike Ward. I love Bill Ward and it's not the same without him, but unfortunately Ozzy's right! He simply does not have the Stamina, nor can he play very well anymore. I heard he had sticky notes all over his drumset with shit wrote on em.
    Yet Iommi, Geezer and Ozzy got through it fine?
    Uh, NOPE. There is a huge difference between standing around with a mic / guitar / bass vs. drumming your ****ing arse off consistently enough for 80 mins. The physical demands of drumming do not compare at all to other instruments, unless of course everyone else is jumping around throwing on a show of sorts.
    And yet Max Weinberg played 3/4 hour shows night after night with The Boss
    Let me get this straight... He's "quite capable of doing the job" and yet he couldn't commit because it wasn't something he could do physically? Those statements contradict each other. I get that he wouldn't want to be minimized and would only perform all or nothing, that makes perfect sense, but he can't claim that he's capable of it if both he and the band have now claimed that he wasn't up to the task physically. Would've loved to see him on the road and hear him on the record. But if he wasn't offering 100% of his awesome ability, I guess it just wouldn't work out. I loved Brad Wilk's playing on 13, and finding a non-metal drummer was a great choice.
    Read the article again. Bill is saying that he COULD do it. Its the Ozzy/Tony braintrust that are saying otherwise. Any yes it is about money. Everybody's job is. I do think that he expected the rest of the band to cave and offer him a larger cut. I guess in the end greed on both sides cost the fans what we really wanted. Typical.
    I am slightly confused by this article. Bill, does seem to contradict himself, but lets face Bill was greatly missed on this whole project, recording and live. Whether Bill would physically be able to keep up, is unknown. I would say night after night on the road, would catch up with him. I like Brad Wilk, he is a great drummer, but lets face it, they put a leash on him. Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford together, gel just as Bill Ward and Geezer Butler did.
    according to ozzy he wasn't accepted on the tour because he couldn't psychically keep up with the music
    Someone fill me in on what his deal is with just not signing a contract and 'letting life take it's own course' while in the same breath he says 'I can do it'. Why would he not agree to tour and record with Ozzy Tony and Geezer if he says he could?
    It's because he wanted to play on the record and tour but the contract they wanted him to sign was not a very good contract. He's saying that he has the stamina and ability to play but the contract just wasn't good. It all boils down to money.
    "I'm the drummer in Sabbath and quite capable of doing the job." Damn right. Could probably write a better record than 13, too.
    I like Sabbath as much as the next guy, but I just can't get into 13. It's just very bland and boring imo. Bill Ward got jipped and has really handled the situation with class and intelligence. I've got lots of respect for this guy.
    The thing about 13 is that it's a greatest hits album in disguise. There's loads of elements from the Ozzy albums taken all over the place. This is supposed to be what would naturally come after Never Say Die, but it isn't really. I mean damn, Zeitgeist is a plain remake of Planet Caravan. It's retreading old ground. I honestly would've preferred it if Rick Rubin got them in the studio and said "let's look at what you guys are digging now, forget what you did before, and jam." I know it's a lot to ask such an old band to do something new, but I would've appreciated the effort. The first 6 Ozzy-era albums all sounded like a simultaneous departure and evolution. Each album was fresh and had its own distinct sound. 13 isn't and doesn't.
    Couldn't agree more. Most of the songs had this feel like Rubin sat them down and told them "Ok, now make a song like this one from your first album". Rubin has even been saying in interviews that he kept pushing the band to revisit the first album and build the songs mostly off of that. It's great to hear sabbath making music that fits into their old stuff, but those records have already been made, and I would've rather heard them come up with something fresh that brings something new to the table.
    "Zeitgeist is plain remake of Planet Caravan"???? Planet Caravan is a Masterpiece, Zeitgeist is a failed attempt of a remake, which could have been a lot better, yes it has a catchy sound, but not catchy enough, It's BORING, like the other songs on that album.
    So damn true, what a shame 13 turned out to be. It would have been so awesome if it turned out to be the great album they claimed it was.
    I wonder how much LESS money the replacement drummer is getting and how much more the remaining three are getting.