Ozzy Osbourne doesn’t mince words, especially when it comes to founding Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward. Last year, the band responded with only 54 words to Ward’s 1,500-word letter on why he wouldn’t participate in any current Sabbath reunion activity, citing contractual disputes; now, Osbourne is citing Ward’s weight as one of the reasons he won’t be playing with Black Sabbath.
Before their reunion show at New Jersey’s PNC Bank Arts Center this past weekend, where Black Sabbath played with drummer Tommy Clufetos (Rob Zombie, Ted Nugent), Osbourne told the New York Daily News he didn’t have faith in the original drummer’s health. “I don’t think he could have done the gig, to be honest. He’s incredibly overweight,” Osbourne said. “A drummer has to be in shape. He’s already had two heart attacks. I don’t want to be responsible for his life.”
Ward, Black Sabbath’s original drummer, left the band midway through their 1980 tour in support of Heaven and Hell due to a severe drinking problem. He returned to the group off and on throughout the 1980s and 1990s, but when they finally reformed with Ozzy Osbourne in 1997 he was replaced by Faith No More’s Mike Bordin. Ward said he learned of his exclusion on MTV. The band brought him back onboard later that year and he participated in all their tours from that point until the group quietly split in 2005. Ward didn’t play on the band’s 2012 reunion album 13.
According to MetalInsider.net, Osbourne also had some things to say about Ward’s performance at Black Sabbath’s earliest rehearsals for 13, the band’s first No. 1 album. “We looked at Bill, and he couldn’t remember what the fuck we were doing. He didn’t come clean and say, ‘I can’t cut this gig, but can we work something out, guys, where I’ll come on but with another drummer backing me up?’ Or, ‘I’ll come and play a few songs.’ That would have been cool.”
In a Guitar International interview in late July, Ward admitted he didn’t sign on to play with Sabbath this time around for specific reasons. “I was offered a contact and I couldn’t sign it,” he said. “I would never, ever show up for a commitment that I could not do physically. It was one of the toughest decisions that I ever had to make. Because I absolutely and without question wanted to play.”
Ward noted that playing part of the show wasn’t an option for him: “I’m the drummer in Black Sabbath so I want to do the entire show. I play all or nothing.”
Osbourne did go on to say “the door is always open for Bill” and admits without him “it’s not the same.”