Ozzy Osbourne says that Bill Ward should have been part of BLACK SABBATH‘s final tour.
Ward was on board for the SABBATH reunion when it was first announced more than seven years ago, but backed out soon after. The drummer later claimed that he sat out the recording and touring sessions because of unfair contractual terms, although the members of SABBATH have hinted in other interviews that he wasn’t physically up to the task.
Ozzy addressed Ward‘s non-involvement with SABBATH‘s reunion during a recent interview with U.K.’s Kerrang! magazine. Asked to elaborate on his previous comment that he didn’t really enjoy his last tour with BLACK SABBATH — the band’s farewell trek which ended in February 2017 — the singer said: “I didn’t like the fact that Bill Ward wasn’t there, for a start. People put that down to me, but it wasn’t me, honestly. We [SABBATH] didn’t have the fucking time to hang around, we had to get going, but I’m sorry it didn’t work out with Bill. Tommy [Clufetos, Ozzy‘s drummer, who played with SABBATH on the farewell tour] did great, but the four of us started this, and it should have been the four of us ending it. Those final gigs in Birmingham were bittersweet because you think of how far we came, and how much we did, and it would have been good to have shared that together. Maybe one day there’ll be one last gig, I don’t know.”
Asked if he found it difficult going back to SABBATH after doing his own thing for so many years, Ozzy said: “Yeah, it was a bit difficult at times, but we’re all older men now, and we got on with it. It’s not ‘Ozzy Osbourne and BLACK SABBATH,’ it’s BLACK SABBATH, and I’m just one quarter of that. Sometimes it feels like people want me to be less ‘Ozzy‘ at times, but I can only be myself.”
All four original members of SABBATH were present when the band announced its reunion in late 2011. But Ward split from the group in 2012, citing an “unsignable” contract, and Osbourne, Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler carried on with their Rick Rubin–produced “13” LP and extensive international touring without him.
Ozzy told The Pulse Of Radio during SABBATH‘s last tour that Ward was not in shape to participate. “Bill Ward has got the most physically demanding job of the lot of us, ’cause he’s the timekeeper,” he said. “I don’t think personally he had the chops to pull it off, you know. The saddest thing is that he needed to own up to that, and we could have worked around it, whether we had a drummer on the side with him or something.”
It was rumored that SABBATH wanted to bring a second drummer on the road to share duties with Ward, something that guitarist Tony Iommi confirmed in 2017 during a question-and-answer session about SABBATH‘s “Ten Year War” box set.
Last November, Ozzy told The Times that he didn’t particularly enjoy working with Iommi. Osbourne also claimed that he has “moved on” from the band, and compared his relationship to the rest of SABBATH on the final tour to reconnecting with a former girlfriend after several decades.
“I’ll tell you what it was like. It’s like when you’re younger and you met a girl, Susie, and you break up and you don’t see her for 30 years,” he said. “Then she’s in town and you go, ‘Oh, I’ll give Susie a call,’ because your memory only remembers the good parts and you can narrow it then to a week and you go, ‘I remember that week and it was lovely.’ But then you go back and you go, ‘I forgot the fucking four and three-quarter years I was fucking miserable.'”
Ozzy has also said in some of his other interviews that his last tour with BLACK SABBATH was not a pleasant experience for him. “It’s not allowed to have fucking fun with SABBATH,” he told Rolling Stone. “It’s too serious. Tony was trying to have a go at me, saying, ‘Don’t fucking talk over my solos.’ I go, ‘Okay, are you sure? ‘Cause most of the fucking song is solos. The intro to the song is fuckin’ five minutes and then I sing for about two seconds and then it’s another one.’ With my own thing, I’m looking to have fun, and that’s what music’s about for me. I’m not a serious fucking singer. I’m just a frontman who’s trying to get the crowd going in front.”
Last September, Ozzy told Philadelphia Inquirer that he “didn’t have a great time” on SABBATH‘s final tour. He explained: “I spent nine or 10 years in SABBATH, but I’d been away from them for over 30 years. With them, I’m just a singer. With me, I get to do what I want to do. I was getting bad vibes from them for being Ozzy. I don’t know — what the fuck else can I be?”
A couple of weeks after Ozzy‘s Philadelphia Inquirer interview was published, Iommi was asked by The List if he had a response to the singer’s comments. Iommi said: “I saw that, but I don’t know what he meant. I had a great time on the last tour playing with the guys, and Ozzy never mentioned anything to me. He seemed to enjoy it and we had a laugh, so I don’t know. So I think possibly that quote was taken out of context.”
In early April, Ozzy postponed all his 2019 tour dates, both in North America and Europe, as he recovered from an injury sustained while dealing with his recent bout of pneumonia. The singer fell at his Los Angeles home, aggravating years-old injuries from his 2003 ATV accident that required new surgery.