Mike Portnoy: 'Sabbath Without Ward Isn't a Reunion'

Drummer weighs in on Sabbath rift, as Tony Iommi discusses health priorities.

Ultimate Guitar

Drummer Mike Portnoy recently gave his thoughts on the latest Black Sabbath reunion, naming the fact it's addressed as a reunion his only problem.

During a chat on Energize With Lonn Friend podcast, Portnoy stressed that without the original drummer Bill Ward, there is simply no reunion, drawing an interesting parallel between Heaven & Hell band.

"Here's my issue with it," he kicked off (via Blabbermouth). "I have no issue if Bill Ward is not fit to play in Sabbath, as they're saying. Or I have no issue with it if they're having money litigation and problems and they couldn't agree on something that was fair. My issue is that they're calling it a Black Sabbath reunion. It's not a Black Sabbath reunion without the four of them. It is now just the latest Black Sabbath lineup."

Portnoy explained further, "Why is this Black Sabbath, but Heaven & Hell wasn't Black Sabbath? I mean, we all know the real reason for it. But it's not a true Black Sabbath reunion without Bill Ward. And if they need to do it without Bill, then they do it without Bill. But don't call it a reunion. It's just Black Sabbath 2013."

Meanwhile, guitarist Tony Iommi discussed ongoing cancer battle, naming his well-being as a top priority over Black Sabbath. The axeman also showed strong determination to continue working and playing with metal pioneers.

"I don't think it would be hard to do another album, because we work so well together once we start cracking," he told Willamette Week. "And I've got plenty of ideas and stuff. But we'll have to see what happens at the end of the year, after tour. I mean, for me, this is a whole new venture, because it's the first time I've been out on tour since I've been ill for the last two years. And I have to treat things very differently to how I did five years ago. I've always put the band first, but now, of course, I have to put my health first."

So are you with Portnoy on this one? Do you consider the current Sabbath lineup as a reunion or "Black Sabbath 2013?" Let us know in the comments.

24 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I will say I agree with him, but the only thing I really care about is they're making music. The issues with Bill are unfortunate, but it's time to move on.
    Who's Black Sabbaths drummer now ? is it that guy that drummed for Ozzy like ten years ago with the dreadlocks, that guy was awesome.
    He's got a point, but then, as the lineup's already had so many changes over the years, it's hard to agree fully. This is enough of the key people to make it Sabbath, so it's Sabbath, and a reunion of 3 of them is still a reunion
    Did anyone other than the media ever call it a reunion? Don't think I've heard Sabbath refer to it as a reunion, but I could be wrong...
    Iommi, Ozbourne and Butler are reuniting... I'd say that's a reunion. EDIT: I retract this statement after reading the article. Agree that it's not necessarily a "Black Sabbath Reunion". EDIT2: Heaven and Hell wasn't Black Sabbath purely because Dio didn't want people to expect them to play War Pigs and Iron Man, etc.
    As far as it's Iommi with Butler - it is "the real" Black Sabbath. Period. I don't give a shit whether there's Bill Ward or whoever else.
    I do agree with him. It was still often referred to as a reunion even after Bill Ward dropped out and it's misleading to call it that. Even worse, they cropped him out of 1970s photos ofthe original lineup to make it appear to still be a full reunion, though from what I understand this was due to Bill Ward and his lawyers. One thing I am certain of is that the lineup that does currently exist has the potential to be just as great, and they've proved that with 13.
    "Even worse, they cropped him out of 1970s photos of the original lineup" The biggest shame of all
    I'm sure he'd rather that he stayed out of it if he can't cope with it though.
    Next we'll have Bill saying DT is not DT without Portnoy
    He did not say Black Sabbath is not Black Sabbath with Bill. Read carefully, it says its not a Black Sabbath reunion without Bill.
    Mr Winters
    We already have a trillion Portnoy fanboys saying that
    I personally prefer Portnoy over Mangini, but I still consider them Dream Theater. As for the topic at hand, Mike is absolutely correct. Bands go through lineup changes, but a reunion is when the FULL classic lineup gets back together. Imagine if Maiden broke up, then they had a reunion without Nicko. It would be great to see Maiden back together, but it wouldn't feel like a reunion because the whole classic lineup wasn't together.
    that's kind of a bad example since nicko wasn't a founding member but i do agree with you
    Why the hell are people STILL bitching about this? They released the ****ing album and are on tour. Why are people still making a big deal about Bill not being in Sabbath? Bill, Geezer, and Ozzy have all been out of Black Sabbath at one point or another. The only person who has been in Sabbath since the first day and was never out of the band was Tony. If HE wasn't in the band it wouldn't be a Black Sabbath reunion. So please. Everyone do yourselves a favor and SHUT THE HELL UP ABOUT IT ALREADY!
    Ozzy iommi and butler made the damn band anyways, in the 70s ward was a skillful diverse drummer, brad wilk impersonated wards old style and did his own thing and id say he did a damn fine job on the album
    " It's not a Black Sabbath reunion without the four of them. It is now just the latest Black Sabbath lineup." Agree fully!
    Darth Crow
    For me personally, Heaven & Hell felt more like Black Sabbath than anything... maybe because of Dio, whom I like A LOT more than Ozzy...