Posted in metal | music on May 15, 2012

Bill Ward

It's official.

Dear Sabbath Fans and Fellow Musicians,

I sincerely regret to inform you that after a final effort to participate in the upcoming Sabbath shows a failure to agree has continued. At this time I have to inform you that I won't be playing with Black Sabbath at the Birmingham gig dated May 19th, 2012, nor will I be playing at Download on June 10th, 2012. Further, I will not be playing at Lollapalooza on August 3, 2012.

Read the rest of Bill Ward's note below. Hopefully they can come to terms for some later dates.

Bill Ward

---- note continued....

It is with a very sad heart that I bring you this news. 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 Tony Iommi after the recent treatments he underwent. I wanted that to become a reality.

To express my thoughts about you, the Sabbath fans, I'm going to speak to you all through an experience my brother James had recently. My brother Jimmy lives in the U.K. When speaking with him a couple of days ago, he told me that an acquaintance had stopped him on the street and confronted him, "is your brother playing Birmingham? What's going on? I waited in line with my son and paid x amount for the concert tickets."

The man's son is a young drummer. He's going to see Sabbath, and he wants to see Bill Ward play drums. Upon hearing this news, I felt horrible. I couldn't help feeling some resentment towards the failure to reach an agreement, the failure to remember where we came from, the failure to be as brothers, as we once were. To be clear, I'm not blaming the other guys or finding any faults with them. I would think it can't be easy for them either, but this situation is just really sad. It's sad that it's come to this. "This" will surely leave a mark and be unwelcome to the memory. Hopefully "this" will heal and pass in time.

My heart sank when Jimmy told me about this young boy. I know this boy is going to be disappointed, and I don't know how to amend it, other than to put my arms around the boy and tell him I love him. Sabbath fans have a voice and a face, to me you're human, you have families and despair. You have ferocity and emotions and graciousness, and at this moment as far as I'm concerned you are also that young boy in England. I don't know how to amend my part in these failings other than to put my arms around you and say I love you and let you know I'm very, very sorry.

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 know in my heart I couldn't have done these concerts by agreeing the terms suggested. 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.

Earlier in April 2012, I'd been asked to participate "minimally" in the 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. I was not willing to participate in that offer. I was not prepared to watch another drummer play a Sabbath set, while I was to play only three songs.

I found out about the Birmingham gig on Monday, April 30 through the Internet ad. I was taken aback somewhat by the date, and the fact it was Birmingham. Knowing the "signable" contract negotiations were at best in shreds, 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. We contacted the representative for Black Sabbath to see if something could be worked out. In the meantime my drum crew and I, along with our US endorsers, finished all the necessary planning for a swift departure to the UK. There wasn't a whole lot to complete; we'd all been on standby more or less since mid-January 2012. The remaining work in the UK was confirmed done by our European and UK endorsers and we were good to go by Friday, May 4 2012. There were two stress points: firstly, getting an agreement in place, and secondly, getting to England in a timely manner. Jetlag time was taken into account as well as drum practice, a drum practice room in the heart of Birmingham, accommodation, and travel arrangements were all in place to meet with any band rehearsals that may have transpired before the Birmingham show. So far everything that had been arranged was on my dime, but we didn't move ahead without a realistic confirmation.

Communications between the representative and my lawyer continued through the weekend of May 5 finalizing on Wednesday, May 9. The offer we received on May 9 was, "come to the UK, play for free and see how the first show goes." I was tempted. Playing for free would not have been a problem for me, but "seeing how the first show goes" left an element of risk which could have affected Download. My ideal thought was to play in full the Birmingham show, in full Download, and in full Lollapalooza.

I had notified the representative that May 10 was my cutoff day in order to have good lead-in time for England. On the night of May 9 I asked for a brief letter to be sent to the representative asking to find out if we were at an end. On the morning of Thursday, May 10, I received a reply in the affirmative. After consulting with my advisors and crew a decision was made to let go and stop.

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. I can't come to Birmingham and "see what happens" knowing there is a risk of not being able to play Download or Lollapalooza. Again, for me, it's all or nothing. 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.

Although the statement was made that, "the door is always open" for me, as explained above, walking through that door is not always as easy as it sounds. There are many complicated issues and unseen and unspoken agendas on hand. I can assure you, my criteria for a "signable" contract is based in mindful principles, respectability, and acknowledgement of my history within the band.

I hold no malice or resentment towards the other band members. I love them; I'm tolerant of them; I'm frustrated with them, as they may be with me. My fight has never been with them. I'll love them forever. In my opinion, nobody wins this time; the band doesn't win; the fans for an original lineup don't win. Nobody wins, nobody. Even the ones who thought they did.

I didn't want to make this decision, but I have to be honest and transparent. This is the statement I didn't want to write; it's the last thing I wanted to do. But, I have written it, and now it can go into the universe.

Since Spring of 2011, I've waited patiently and hopefully for a signable contract, you know the rest. I stand for the boy in the U.K., for the coming drum student, for all the drummers, who write their parts out and get stiffed on the publishing, I stand with the Sabbath fans chanting "Bill Ward" and asking "why?" and I stand with Tony and Geezer and Ozzy.

On a final note, even though I'm at an end with the upcoming announced concerts, I will remain with an open mind and a position of willingness to negotiate "signable" terms with Sabbath's representatives in the future.

Stay strong.
Stay safe.

With all my heart and strength, I love you,
Bill Ward



Comments (58)

Sucks...but now I need to know who's going to be the new drummer

Posted by Anonymous | May 15, 2012 3:36 PM

I guess being paid in groupies and blow isn't as appealing at his age

Posted by Anonymous | May 15, 2012 3:39 PM

I fucking love Bill Ward. Rock on Bill, whatever you might do. I don't blame him for not wanting to watch Ozzy walking around like a cast member of Walking Dead while he sits there and drums.

Posted by really? | May 15, 2012 3:40 PM

john stamos is the obvious replacement, amirite?

Posted by Anonymous | May 15, 2012 3:44 PM

"I don't blame him for not wanting to watch Ozzy walking around like a cast member of Walking Dead while he sits there and drums."

That has nothing to do with why he is not performing with them you doofus

Posted by Anonymous | May 15, 2012 3:46 PM

After reading that letter in full, isn't it clear that he should have just played the Birmingham date? At that point, he was just being stubborn.

It seems like they don't want him to join the reunion because they are legitimately questioning his ability to play through an entire Sabbath set, which I hadn't considered before.

Posted by Anonymous | May 15, 2012 3:47 PM

Kinda sounds more and more like G&R amirite?

Posted by Anonymous | May 15, 2012 3:47 PM

really I believe his points are probably all valid, but this is kinda more than we need to know.

Yes, the fans want to see the original lineup, but do the fans also need to read a sixteen paragraph letter about business dealings going bad?

This is all about money and business, and this letter is way too long and the fans don't need to know anything about signable contracts, etc.

Posted by Anonymous | May 15, 2012 3:47 PM

Bill Ward is the D of Black Sabbath. Reading that missive is longer than their set list.

Posted by Anonymous | May 15, 2012 3:49 PM

no matter how heartfelt a letter, this is too long and drawn out a public airing of what is a private business matter

Posted by Anonymous | May 15, 2012 3:50 PM

Poor grandpa

Posted by Anonymous | May 15, 2012 4:07 PM

Tell me tell me how to be how to be a millionaire!!! Oh!

Posted by Anonymous | May 15, 2012 4:09 PM

Hold on. That is the greatest tattoo I've ever seen.

Posted by Anonymous | May 15, 2012 4:13 PM


Posted by Anonymous | May 15, 2012 4:28 PM

Yes...the letter is to long BUT the sentiment is real. You can tell the man is conflicted as hell and doesn't want history to paint this as his fault. And you know what? It isn't. Fuck them for telling a founding member of the band to fly over to the UK on his own dime and play for free so that they can "see how it goes." What kind of shit is that? I bet none of the other members are playing those gigs for free. Accepting those terms would have been totally humiliating.

Posted by Anonymous | May 15, 2012 4:38 PM

^ of course, and I wish no one would go to these stupid shows, but Bill Ward could've just as easily written "Sharon is being a cunt" and pretty much the entire world have understood.

Posted by Prime | May 15, 2012 4:40 PM


And watching Ozzy soberly mumble through the set in a MacGowanesque fashion isn't also a concern?

It's just a shame that all parties couldn't get this sorted out.

Posted by Anonymous | May 15, 2012 4:43 PM

so what you're saying is he's joining best coast

Posted by half baked | May 15, 2012 4:46 PM

*the above post sponsored by best coast, new album "the only place" now available on itunes with 2 bonus tracks

Posted by half baked | May 15, 2012 4:48 PM

Is he on the 2 Bonus Tracks? I hope they're a bonus!

Posted by Anonymous | May 15, 2012 4:48 PM

Sorry about the spelling error in your tattoo!

Posted by bad taste | May 15, 2012 4:49 PM

anyone who calls a letter a "missive" is a limey poon

Posted by Anonymous | May 15, 2012 4:49 PM

OMG, shame on Bill Ward 4 making the ADD Generation read!!1!

Back 2 your Tweets, kiddies - sorry 2 make U look up. LOL

Posted by Anonymous | May 15, 2012 5:15 PM

Guy genuinely sounds like a class act. You dont see the Stones trying to push Charlie Watts out, there's no reason Bill should be given the "3 song only" treatment at Download. That is such an insult. That and telling him he has to play for free. Gimme a fuckin' break.

Amanda Palmer, a nobody who will be forgotten in a year, raises $700,000 on Kickstarter and Bill fuckin' Ward gets asked to play for free with Black Sabbath. This industry blows.

Posted by Anonymous | May 15, 2012 9:34 PM

you were one of the drummers who got me playing.stay stong on this you deserve better.i'm one of your biggest fans..God bless

Posted by john | May 15, 2012 10:33 PM

9:34 if that's the reason then he is right.

Posted by Anonymous | May 16, 2012 8:44 AM

tl, dr

Posted by Anonymous | May 17, 2012 8:34 PM

Dave Grohl!

Posted by Anonymous | May 17, 2012 8:55 PM

Jason bonham!!

Posted by Anonymous | May 18, 2012 3:39 AM

Sharon Osbourne might be drumming.

Posted by Anonymous | May 18, 2012 3:57 AM

i really hope that the initials of that dude with the tat is "HT"

even then, id have to imagine he get's shit for that all the time.

Posted by Anonymous | May 18, 2012 2:07 PM

I'm a Sabbath fan since the early 70's... and as a bass player my interest was mostly in Bill Ward's playing. To this day I still love what Bill did in Black Sabbath -- truly a highly creative and defining part of what the band was. It should be the case that all 4 original members should have exclusive right to tour with an equal split among the members. When you have that contract in hand then you will always get the band (not members) acting in the best interest of the band and the fans. Until then you will have the mess you see before you. Sadly the business people don't quite understand or appreciate the music that was made.

Posted by Don H | May 18, 2012 6:23 PM

Who cares about this? Those that go to the shows are going to have crazy fun. Those that complain and bitch about Bill Ward's absence will miss a good time.

This is pointless news.

Posted by Anonymous | May 18, 2012 6:45 PM

Dio always sucked. I've been a fan since they came out. Just as Dio joined, the whole name of the band went to shit.

Posted by Anonymous | May 18, 2012 6:48 PM

6:45 is right

Posted by Anonymous | May 18, 2012 6:54 PM

Matt Damon!

Posted by Anonymous | May 18, 2012 7:00 PM

Bill Who?

Posted by Anonymous | May 18, 2012 7:23 PM

7:23 ftw

Posted by Anonymous | May 18, 2012 7:25 PM

Why is this still news?

Posted by Anonymous | May 18, 2012 7:37 PM

anyone who calls a letter a "missive" is a limey poon

Posted by Anonymous | May 18, 2012 7:51 PM



Posted by Anonymous | May 18, 2012 7:56 PM

"I guess being paid in groupies and blow isn't as appealing at his age"


Posted by Anonymous | May 18, 2012 7:56 PM

more like Grandpa problems

Posted by Anonymous | May 18, 2012 7:57 PM

Tony should now fire Sharon, who will take Ozzy out, and then they can get Sammy Hagar to sing.

Posted by Anonymous | May 18, 2012 8:16 PM

All of the Sabbath drummers are great. Bill Ward is a tremendous drummer.

Posted by Anonymous | May 18, 2012 8:44 PM


Posted by Anonymous | May 18, 2012 8:47 PM

just listen to Sleep

Posted by Anonymous | May 18, 2012 8:52 PM

it's all Sharon's fault.

Posted by Anonymous | May 18, 2012 9:07 PM


Posted by Anonymous | May 18, 2012 9:37 PM

I miss Donna!

Posted by Anonymous | May 18, 2012 9:40 PM


Posted by Anonymous | May 18, 2012 9:44 PM

Sharon is a rotten cunt.

Posted by Anonymous | May 18, 2012 10:42 PM

Who's Sharon?

Posted by Anonymous | May 18, 2012 11:13 PM

It's hilarious that one day you're complaining about Bill still being in the pictures if he's not in the band. Then the next day you are complaining that they took him out of the pictures. They can't win with you guys. Bill's out, deal with it.

Posted by Anonymous | May 18, 2012 11:19 PM

If you thought this letter was too long you have the attention span of a retarded hamster. Read a damn book sometime.

Posted by Athonwy | May 19, 2012 9:27 AM

Maybe Bill can get a gig with Black Sabbaht.

Posted by Ryan | May 21, 2012 1:36 PM

bill ward.

Posted by jordon | July 31, 2013 3:12 PM

Thinking Lovely hearted Bill has ALREADY dealt with any problems he was having with keeping up with the full sets...has been prepared & standing by, staying fit & being more than ready for this tour, and obviously, so very much looking forward to it, by his utter & understandably complete disappointment...bless him, and ALL our God Fathers in this legendary founding band...may they ALL find a common ground soon for next tour...may it be a comfort to Bill knowing he's loved & missed...and I sure hope its wasn't Sharon who's made such a ridulously ludicris decision based on one of his past performances, (we've all given dear Ozzy plenty slack on his less than perfect performances/tours...and reveled at his improvements...simply "just saying" ...know Bill himself would realize when he needed to brush up & get strong again.. Hope this wasn't too long for the "ADD generation"...'cause when I last researched-> they're saying We Are All ADD now. <3

Posted by bev hearts | March 30, 2014 4:26 PM

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