Fans hoping to see the original line up of Black Sabbath this summer have now been dealt the hand of doom by drummer Bill Ward announcing he will no longer be attending the three planned shows at Download Festival, Lollapalooza and the all important home-town gig of Birmingham, England.
Without any malice towards the rest of the group, Ward had to decline involvement after an amicable term of contract could not be reached. In an open letter on his website, he expresses his solemnity in deciding not to participate, especially after the announcement of guitarist Tony Iommi’s on-going treatment for Lymphoma.
In April, earlier this year Ward was invited to join the band on stage at Download but only in a minimal capacity while another drummer completed the rest of the show. Ward stated “I was not prepared to watch another drummer play a Sabbath set, while I was to play only three songs”.
Adding insult to injury, Ward was not officially invited to the Birmingham show, finding out about it via an internet advertisement before being approached to play the show for free and see how it goes.“I had to say ‘no’ to Birmingham on the principle of wanting to play all the shows. Saying no to Birmingham is very difficult for me. My family grew up in Birmingham. Black Sabbath grew up in Birmingham. It’s still my hometown and I resent having to arrive at such a difficult choice,” Ward said in a statement.
Due to a “lack of a signable contract,” Ward will not be playing on the recently announced reunion album either. This would have marked the first time in 30 years that the original line up of Black Sabbath had recorded together, since 1978’s Never Say Die!
Although Ward’s lack of participation is a huge blow to fans of the godfather’s of heavy metal, the planned shows will still go ahead with Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler.
UPDATE: In a statement issued by their publicist, the members of Black Sabbath had this to say about Ward’s refusal to participate:
“We have decided not to make any detailed comment on Bill’s latest statement. There are two sides to every story. We have been working hard at rehearsals making excellent progress after Tony’s treatment and we have engaged a substitute drummer for the upcoming shows.”