Black Sabbath have officially ended negotiations with founding drummer Bill Ward, four months after he rejected their offer to perform in their reunion.
In a lengthy post on his website, Bill explains that his last-ditch attempts to come to a deal fell flat when the band would only let him join their homecoming show if he played for free.
"It is with a very sad heart that I bring you this news," he wrote. "I am sincerely passionate in my desire to play with the band, and I'm very, very sorry that it's fallen to this. This statement is even more painstaking to write, as I was particularly excited to play alongside [guitarist] Tony Iommi after the recent treatments he underwent." Iommi was diagnosed with cancer in January, shortly after the band announced their reunion.
Bill doesn't want to blame the band for their situation, but defends his choices - even when it hurts to let his fans down:
"Throughout this process, which began over a year ago, I have had to stand up for myself time and time again. I have had to stand up for myself and in doing so realize my actions indirectly, although unintentionally, are upsetting and hurting a lot of you.
"I made a solemn vow after the last European and Ozzfest concerts that I would never again enter into what was, in my opinion, a totally unsatisfactory contract. I have to stand for something, and as painful as it is, I'm doing it."
The letter reveals details of what happened behind-the-scenes since we last reported on their negotiations in February.
In April, Bill was asked to participate "minimally" in their headline slot at Download festival. "I believe I'd been offered no more than three songs to play while another drummer presumably played the rest of the show with Black Sabbath," he wrote.
Bill only heard about their April 30 homecoming show in Birmingham through the Internet at the same time as the fans: "I was upset by the idea that the band was going to play Birmingham and play it assumedly without me. I had no prior knowledge of the date and location, and I felt totally excluded."
Despite keeping his drum crew on standby since mid-January, Bill was told by the band's lawyers that he could "come to the UK, play for free and see how the first show goes."
"I was tempted," wrote Bill, but it wasn't enough. "I can't prioritize the Sabbath fans making one show more important than the other. I can't do that. All of you are important. It's all the gigs or none at all."
Bill's team asked the band whether the negotiations were at an end on May 9th,. The next day, the band's representative confirmed it was over.
"In my opinion, nobody wins this time; the band doesn't win; the fans for an original lineup don't win," wrote Bill. "Nobody wins. Even the ones who thought they did."
While Bill remains open to a fair contract to perform in the original lineup, it looks like this chapter in Black Sabbath's history is closed. Sadly, it could also be their last.