Ozzy: 'Bill Ward Wasn't Fit Enough for Reunion'

The real reason that Bill Ward was offered a poor contract for the Black Sabbath reunion has been revealed: his memory and fitness wasn't good enough.

Ultimate Guitar

Ozzy Osbourne says the real reason that original Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward didn't join their current reunion was that he isn't' physically or mentally up to the demands of performing or recording.

Ward was part of the reunion press conference in 2011, but by February 2012 he revealed a contractual dispute which suggested he wasn't being offered a fair share of future royalties, but the band wouldn't budge and eventually replaced him with Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk.

"You know them yellow f--king stick-on memo notes?" Osbourne said during a recent interview with Mojo Magazine. "He had them all over his f--king drums. I was like, 'What the f--k's that for, Bill?' He said, 'I can't remember what I'm doing.'

"I go, 'How are you gonna remember out of those 500,000 bits of paper stuck all over your kit, which one you're looking at, Bill?' [Bill said] 'I'll know.' Ah, okay. Great."

It seems the band's concerns about Bill started during their first reunion rehearsal sessions, where they started to wonder whether he could last hours on stage during their reunion shows.

"My suggestion was that we run through a set and see how he got on because he was so out of condition and the drummer is the most demanding job in the whole band," Ozzy added.

"We looked at Bill, and he couldn't remember what the f--k we were doing. But he didn't come clean and say, 'I can't cut this gig, but can we work something out, guys, where I'll come on but with another drummer backing me up?' Or, 'I'll come and play a few songs.' That would have been cool."

Ozzy doesn't blame his old friend for outing their contractual dispute. "I get where he's coming from his pride was hurt," he says. "And I get it. I really do get it. The guy will always be a dear, dear friend and a brother to me."

107 comments sorted by best / new / date

    If this is the truth why they didnt tell it earlier?
    Well, first of all, the history of Black Sabbath is full of things being covered up which never needed to be covered up. Second of all, I doubt Bill would've wanted them to talk about this, based on what Ozzy said.
    Ozzy just now remember it....had to wait for the few brain cells that are left not being used for badassery to get their turn to communicate..
    To not let the fans down, to not **** up with all the hype, etc... all are only suppositions, of course. Anyway, it would have been pretty sweet if Bill didn't part ways with them, but I'm happy to see especially Tony and Geezer back together. And the new songs are so far very good.
    If this is the real reason Ward isn't in the reunion it's really, really sad, I feel bad for the guy. Between him and Ozzy, how would this band know what they hell is ever going on?
    Lee Makky
    At least they picked a good drummer to replace him, Brad Wilk sounds like he works well with the guys.
    The story aside, I need to see a picture of bill wards kit with random sticky notes over it. I just need to have a laugh.
    Having Ozzy tell you that you're physically and mentally unfit to play a live gig is like having Axl Rose tell you you're an ill-tempered egomaniac who should do something about his tardiness
    So true. Ozzy's voice isn't the best anymore, he's physically not in the best shape and he needs a teleprompter to remember the stuff he's singing... that's pretty much worse than what he said about Bill.
    I was just getting ready to mention the teleprompter. I don't play drums but if Ward needed pieces of paper on his drums and Ozzy needs a teleprompter...what's the difference?
    The sad life of an aging rock star.
    Could see this coming, for the past few one off sabbath reunions a drum tech has had to sit next to bill counting the beats with his hands so bill didnt get lost.
    Ozzy's raggin' Bill for his post-it notes... yet Ozzy's the one who needs a teleprompter to remember his lyrics? Just sayin'..
    Even Geddy Lee uses a teleprompter, it's a lot of lyrics to remember for an aging person.
    I think I would need a teleprompter at the age of 20 to remember entire albums' worth of lyrics.
    Use one if you must, just don't go grilling another member of your band, using their inability to remember entire setlists of songs when you can't even do the same. It makes it 1000x worse (to me) when he uses that as the reason why he's booted from such a significant tour. It's a blatant cover-up for something else, most likely money related but nobody wants to look like the cheapskate to confirm.
    To play devil's advocate here, it is a significantly bigger deal for the drummer to forget what's going on/what's coming up than it is for the singer to forget the lyrics. If the singer forgets the lyrics, the music goes on and he can catch back up. If a drummer messes up, there's a good chance everybody else is gonna mess up, too, as a result.
    You could also say that, as a singer he can use a teleprompter for help, a drummer cant. It doesnt matter that Ozzy cant remember the lyrics because he can rely on the teleprompter, the drummer (and the rest of the band) is ****ed if he suddenly forgets a segment of the song, and theres nothing there to help him remember.
    not the same thing. if he had something written down to remember what notes he had to hit and the lyrics too, then you would have a fair point.
    And on Ozzys memory. A question to any of you who were lucky enough to see Ozzy (Sabbath or Solo). Was he ever able to name the place he was playing in? Ive seen Sabbath with Ozzy multiple times in different locations in Europe and he never once mentioned the name of the city. Does anybody else realize that? The opening bands at least acknowledged the area.
    On the reunion show in 97, the one that got taped for the "Reunion" album, he says "Birmingham"
    But he calls it Birm-ming-HAM , England , like an American. Not berming-um like a brummie .
    Good question. He said a bunch of stuff, but I couldn't understand any of it.
    saw sabbath two days ago, he mentioned the city name perth.
    I saw him in Japan a couple of years ago. He said something to the effect of "It's so nice to be back in...wait, where the **** are we?" Still was an awesome show, though.
    Yeah, I saw Sabbath at Download Festival and he was pretty sure about it being at Donington Park. Though I'm pretty sure he still thought it was Monsters Of Rock.
    Nero Galon
    If this is true, which I hope it is because nobody likes lies, then they should get Bill to come back for at least one big last performance or something like on NIB or something, just out of respect.
    Typical UG commentor (or any website for that matter) say someone is wrong, offer no reason why, and then insult. Youre so cool i wish i was just like you.
    like you kind of just did...? also its Sabbath, they were the first, theyre getting old. if it still sounds great then who cares if they get a little help. at least their out there giving fans what they still want. I say more power to them and rock on
    Well, saw OZZY two years ago with BLS, he was jumping around screaming his lungs out. his singing was great when he was on, when he was off, it was ok. Anyways after like an hour the guys played some solos and ozzy went off stage. I left the first row to go backstage talked to Zakk Wylde and saw ozzy lying on a sofa taking some oxygen. ozzy still gives everything hes got, depending on his shape
    It's a shame he couldn't get his Shit together, but Brad Wilks and Tommy Clufetos are doing an amazing job as replacements
    when ur told ur not fit enough and u have a guitar player battling cancer and a lead singer who is the poster child for abuse and who himself has to use a teleprompter. Hell, if his wife wasn't running things, he'd be up there with sticky notes of lyrics. i feel bad for Bill but i also love Brad, so i am torn. but i don't think it's very cool for Ozzy to say what he did either.
    You guys are getting defensive over Ozzy's comments because he uses a teleprompter and isn't in shape himself. This may be true, but Ozzy doesn't need the same memory and fitness level. Like Ozzy said, "the drummer is the most demanding job in the whole band." If you're not in shape to drum, then you're not in shape to drum, and there's nothing Ozzy can do to fix that for you
    Not sure how I feel about Ozzy saying this, even if it is true. I wouldn't tell anyone one of my closest friends and bandmate can't play cause of a reason like that (without consent), much less go into detail about it.
    true but if they did a reunion with bill and it was awful and let everyone down then they might as well have not done it at all
    Yeah i completely agree with you there, its just that i thought the information was a little personal to be released by someone other than bill (assumingly) without his permission.
    Well, Oz, isn't the pot calling the kettle black...
    I don't think at any point did Ozzy say 'Bill is total shit on the drums now, me though- I'm a ****ing legend who can remember everything and am 100% capable of doing this job'... Ozzy is saying it how it is, Bill is a 67 year old man in charge of doing an extremely demanding job he hasn't done in years and it's simply not gonna work if you just leave sticky notes all over your kit instructing you what to do. Think before you post your asinine comments
    Anyone who has seen Sabbath in their reunion days (since the late 90's) knows this to be true. Saw them with Ward... they struggled. Saw them with Bordin and Cluefeto (spelling) and they were great. Ward has had health issues for a long time. Shit happens, and people get old. When it's the drummer it's a bigger problem than other spots.
    Makes sense, they were worried about Bill's fitness for the 90's reunion too. I may be wrong about this but I think the last time he did a tour was 2006.
    "Hurr Durr Ozzy sucks" Fuck off and listen to something else then.
    Scott O
    Not mentally or physically fit, Ozzie? This is like Oprah telling someone to stop chowing down on Ding Dongs and ice cream sundaes.
    In that case they should replace ozzy too, since he cant hit any of the notes anymore
    Bullshit, seen him a week ago, and he was excellent.
    Dude Ozzy is hooked up to so many machines, including auto tune...of course he's gonna sound good
    The only one needing a auto tuner here is you with your comment.
    youre right, they chorus the shit out of his voice. Some ozzy tracks and Zak wylde tracks sound almost identical cause they use the same effects.
    Oftentimes, there will be backup singers backstage hitting certain notes that age just won't allow.
    David Lee Roth could use that now with Van Halen but he hasn't and the shows have been more than solid.
    In a weird way, and I mean absolutely no disrespect here and I wish Bill all the best, it's kind of...nice to hear that it's because of fitness and not some feud. It's nice that he intended to do it. Big respect from me for that
    You know you're not fit for performing when Ozzy ****ing Osbourne tells you you're not mentally fit to perform. Good god. I bet Bill shit his pants.
    Compare it to Heaven & Hell with Dio & Appice. There's the difference right there.
    Ozzy Osbourne has no right to criticise ANYBODY'S abilities because he can not and could never sing.. Would prefer Sabbath instrumental with extended jaaams..
    Seriously? Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Sabotage aren't ringing any bells? His voice is not the same nowadays for sure, but he had a pretty good voice around 1973-76.
    Just got my two for West Palm Beach on the 31 of July, oh yea ! First time since 1978 (and 1976). Sabbath !
    Ozzy has performed with teleprompters all over the stage for years. I don't want to hear about Bill not remembering the songs *in rehearsal*. I am sure when he got to playing live he wouldn't need the teleprompters that Ozzy does.
    Ozzy is the one saying someone else isn't healthy? I suspect we will read a press release from Bill soon.
    If that's the truth, that's pretty sad. Would have preferred to hear an independent account from someone else than Sabbath, Bill or their managements who was working with them at the time, though.
    I actually accept this reason. Out of all the books I've read about Black Sabbath, one thing is consistent, Bill Ward sometimes just doesn't seem "with it" sometimes, to say the least. He left Sabbath multiple times before just because of this same reason, hard time keeping up and remembering what to do.
    As both a singer and Guitarist...its easier to remember guitar music than lyrics for me. Some songs just get redundant and if you're dancing or trying to perform it can be easy to go off cue.
    Apart from all that "slamming" stuff, I think it's pretty sad for Bill. He obviously wanted very much to play with Sabbath and tried everything he could to do so. I mean, it's almost pathetic for such a well established drummer like Ward to put memo notes on your drum kit.
    that's a bull shit cover up excuse for trying to rip off the drummer..the other two members took a pay cut cause they have no other choice if they still want to be "rock stars" personaly I would have got a new singer if you really still want to play as black sabbath...ozzy and sharone knew they were desperate...i think it's cool and honorable bill said **** you if you don't split the pay check 4 ways its called a REUNION !!!! equal!!
    If they got a new singer to play as Black Sabbath, wouldn't that kinda make it not Black Sabbath? Besides, I doubt they really still want to be "rock stars" at this age.
    Does anyone know if Clufetos is the man or is Wilk getting ready for the American leg of the tour? Seems like their willing to play just about anything from the new set. Need to get A bit of finger/ Sleeping village/ Warning into the set; more Iommi ! Hand of doom too ! Too bad about Bill but he's been in declining health for awhile I've heard. Maybe Birmingham, that be nice.