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Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne has provided perhaps his most candid comments yet on original drummer Bill Ward's decision to back out of the band's reunion album and tour. In a new interview with Mojo magazine, Ozzy explained, "I guess it's to do with finances or something. But there was also another side to it. When Bill came along, we all had to ask, 'Can he do an hour-and-a-half, two-hour gig? Can he cope?' 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. We looked at Bill, and he couldn't remember what the f*** we were doing."


Ozzy added that it "would have been cool" for the band to tour with a back-up drummer or just have Ward play a portion of the set, but that Ward "didn't come clean and say, 'I can't cut this gig.'"

  • Ozzy continued, "I get where he's coming from, though. His pride was hurt and I get it. I really do get it. The guy will always be a dear, dear friend and a brother to me . . . I'm not gonna give Bill a hatchet job, but at the same time we haven't got the patience to deal with it."
  • Ward was on board for the reunion when it was first announced in November 2011, but backed out soon after, claiming that he was given contractual terms that were not fair.
  • Sabbath has used Ozzy's regular touring drummer Tommy Clufetos since then for live work. Rage Against The Machine's Brad Wilk laid down the drum tracks on the band's upcoming album, 13, due out June 11th.
  • Sabbath finished the Australian leg of its world tour over the weekend and now heads to Japan to play that country's first-ever Ozzfest on Sunday (May 12th). A North American trek begins on July 25th in the Woodlands, Texas.

OFF THE RECORD: We've heard all along that Bill was just not capable of getting the job done live at this point, and that the other members were willing to take the brunt of the criticism over his exit in order for Ward to save some face. Could the guys have been that charitable about it? It's possible, and it's also possible that they just don't want to look like the bad guys anymore.


  • Do you buy Ozzy's explanation for Ward's absence? Or do you think it's about money and the band just wants to not look greedy?
  • To be fair, Ward hasn't been in the best shape for a while -- should they have given him the chance to get his act together?
  • Playing drums is perhaps the most demanding part of being in band -- is it possible that Ward, being in his 60s, just couldn't do it anymore?
  • Should he have agreed to stay on anyway and just play a few songs per night? Would that have lessened the blow?

INTERNET COMMENTS at Blabbermouth -- agree or not?

6stringking wrote: "I've seen recent videos of you singing Ozzy and your still out of condition. You guys f***ed him..."

Fabiano 75 wrote: "Ozzy sounds good in this tour. Except for one or two songs he is in good shape. The drummer is the motor in a band. I always knew that is the real problem."

kill metal wrote: "The only person who screwed Bill Ward is Bill Ward himself by not taking care of himself.Take a good look at him,do you really think he can play 1 1/2-2 hrs & not drop dead? He's in terrible shape."

Harry wrote: "those of us who are not in denial, always knew what was up. He's the only guy in the band who hasn't been gigging and working over the last decade...why would anyone think that he'd be able to just pick up the sticks and be ready to roll."

Aces_High99 wrote: "Ironic coming from Ozzy, who needs literally FIVE teleprompters onstage so that he doesn't forget lyrics, and yet he still does occasionally. Nevertheless, drumming IS physically demanding, and some 60-plus year old man with weight and heart problems probably shouldn't be going on tour."

rando wrote: "they should have at least had him play on the album, especially since they've got a different touring drummer anyway."  

Read more at Blabbermouth, Loudwire, Ultimate Classic Rock, Classic Rock and NME

Ultimate Classic Rock posts the top 10 Bill Ward Black Sabbath songs

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