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Bill Ward Says He’s Not Left Black Sabbath, He Just Didn’t Sign the Contract

Black Sabbath
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

The fact that Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward sat out the band’s reunion album ’13’ and supporting tour is still a hot topic in the metal community. Ward wanted to man the kit for the reunion, saying, “I absolutely and without question wanted to play,” but the contract, in his eyes, was just not “workable.” Therefore, while he has not left the band, he isn’t currently active.

While that may seem like a matter of semantics, it’s more complex. In simplest terms, Ward told Guitar International, “I was offered a contact and I couldn’t sign it.”

He continued, “As for some of the stories — I would never, ever show up for a commitment that I could not do physically. So that should answer that one! In the statement that I did last year, I was quite clear that I came to the end of the road and promised myself and my family that I would never sign a contract that was not workable.”

Ward labeled it “one of the toughest decisions that I ever had to make. Because I absolutely and without question wanted to play.” He also contends that “I haven’t left the band.” He’s just inactive right now due to legal and contractual matters. “Everybody thinks I have left the band,” he bemoaned. “I didn’t walk out; it wasn’t like that at all! I just didn’t sign the contact and life took its own course.”

While Ozzy Osbourne has said that he loves Ward and wants him back for the next go-round, Ward was not moved an inch by those sentiments. He remains hardcore regarding business terms. “I have a complete open mind to the idea,” he stated. “All the nicety and placations in the world will mean nothing unless I get the right contract.”

Ward also said he would not show up to a gig and do a few songs, since “I’m the drummer in Black Sabbath so I want to do the entire show. I play all or nothing. Playing partially would kind of be aligning to my demise in Sabbath and minimize me. I’m the drummer in Sabbath and quite capable of doing the job.”

When Ward was asked about what the Bill of today would tell Bill of the past, his answer related to the contract, which is clearly a sticking point. “Never, ever, ever, ever give away anything that you signed in a contact. Never sign it off, never sell it,” is what he’d tell his young self. “Whatever belongs to you, hold on to it with all your heart and soul because it could be a calamitous situations in the future. That would be the first thing because that’s the most primary thing.”

He continued, “But I would also say that you have to stay true to your heart and make a stand and sometimes you have to make a very painful stand. I hated the fact that I’m not on the tour and I couldn’t play Birmingham and all the young fans that wanted to see me play. That was absolutely punishing to go through. [Guitarist] Tony [Iommi] was sick and I wanted to be with Tony. It was a very hardcore decision to make.”

Next: See What Ozzy Really Said About Bill Ward's Absence

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