Ozzy Osbourne urges estranged Black Sabbath member to rejoin band

Singer says Bill Ward’s absence is the ‘only sad thing’ about the metal group’s recent reformation

• Black Sabbath to record new album and tour one more time

Ozzy Osbourne has called for Bill Ward to rejoin Black Sabbath, proposing that the band’s estranged drummer reunites with the group for their “last hurrah”. Although the singer still has concerns over Ward’s health, he said he wants the original lineup to play on what is probably Black Sabbath’s final album.

“I hope Bill Ward can get his stuff together to do this,” Osbourne recently told Esquire. He brought up the drummer’s name unprompted, calling Ward’s absence the “only sad thing” about Sabbath’s recent reformation. “One of the biggest things I’m proud of in my life was that Black Sabbath wasn’t a band that was created by some business mogul in London or New York,” Osbourne explained. “We were four guys who had a great idea.”

Ward’s absence from Black Sabbath’s 2013 comeback album, 13, was due to a combination of insult, ill health and pride. The 66-year-old claimed that Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler never offered him a “’signable’ contract” with fair terms. “My criteria for a ‘signable’ contract is based in mindful principles, respectability and acknowledgment of my history within the band,” he said. “I [can’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.”

But Osbourne has also alleged that the decision was related to Ward’s health. He has referred to the drummer as “overweight” and “out of condition” in recent interviews, arguing that he wouldn’t be up to the job. “If I’d had a heart attack like Bill had, I’d go, ‘Fuck, I’m going to lose some weight,’” Osbourne said in August 2013. “You can’t [accept] someone who’s been sitting on their fucking arse, eating shit, to come along and go, ‘Equal split.’ It’s insane.”

Ward himself has admitted to health issues: he underwent serious gastrointestinal surgery last year and is only slowly recovering. “My health right now is not bad but it’s not good enough to certainly play in any band never mind Black Sabbath,” he told DC Heavy Metal in April. “I’ve got to gain all my muscle back.” While Ward has “lost a friend” in Osbourne, he said he remains in contact with Butler and Iommi; so long as they could “come to some terms”, he would be happy to rejoin the group.

In late September, Osbourne announced plans for a follow-up to 13, described as “one more album” before “a final tour”. Rick Rubin will again produce the record, which the musicians have yet to begin: “I texted Tony [Iommi] the other day,” Osbourne told Esquire. “I said, ‘It would be a great idea if you could send me some musical ideas so I can try and work some melodies around.’”

Osbourne also recently announced the first-ever Ozzfiesta music festival in Mexico, an event that includes a golf tournament, a dinner party, music, movie nights and comedy sets and will take place next May.


Sean Michaels

The GuardianTramp

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