Founding Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward has been feuding with his onetime bandmates since 2012, when he opted out of the group's reunion over what he called an "unsignable" contract. Now, as rumors of another album and tour build online, he says he will not consider rejoining the group unless Ozzy Osbourne apologizes to him for perceived insults.
"With a sad heart, I have to say I will not participate in any musical undertakings until a righting of the wrongs spoken against me has been achieved," the drummer wrote on Facebook. "I must admit, I have little to no expectations of this happening, but in the order of first things first, I'm looking for an honest accountability of all of Ozzy's statements that I felt were untrue."
Although the drummer was not specific about the insults that bothered him most, he suspects Osbourne does. "Because I was chastised publicly, I would want him to amend publicly in his words, and not through an Ozzy representative, the nature of the wrongs," he wrote. "I would not want to continue on with him without this seemingly [impassable] dilemma being addressed. I don't think previously strong relationships can remain strong after dispute by just sweeping the offensive stuff under the carpet, or by saying a puny sorry, or 'Oh, that's all over now.' It doesn't work like that for me. Righting of wrong works, and that's what I want if I'm ever going to be his friend again."
Perhaps the most offensive statement Osbourne made was when he called Ward "incredibly overweight" in August 2013 and said, "I don't think he could have done the gig, to be honest.... 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 explained that he "neither severed nor discontinued" his relationship with the band, but that Osbourne's statements alarmed him and caused him to feel "detached emotionally and spiritually from Ozzy." He wants an "honest accountability" of the statements the singer has made that feels untrue.
The drummer also brought up the issue of a "signable" contract, the sticking point that kept him from committing to Black Sabbath's reunion in 2011, saying that he would need something he could approve of before moving forward.
Ward previously released statements demanding a contract in January and February 2012. The band, however, decided to carry on without him and record their comeback record 13 with Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk behind the kit and Ozzy solo drummer Tommy Clufetos joining them on tour. Ward announced that he would not be touring on the group's 2012 tour that May, and Black Sabbath released their own statement saying there are "two sides to every story."
"I've listened to nothing but insults and false remarks, and if as a band or as individuals they wish to continue along the same lines, then any notion of an original Black Sabbath lineup will continue to fade away," Ward wrote.
"Put simply, it's up to them," he continued. "I have dearly missed playing with them and as people, I have been heartbroken over the loss of who I thought we were. And now you know where I stand."
A spokesperson for Black Sabbath did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The drummer is currently prepping the release of an LP "ironically called" Accountable Beasts with his Bill Ward Band, with whom he has been playing since May 2012. "I have been in deep regret since January 2012 that a true [Black Sabbath] union was denied," he wrote.
"I didn't know Bill was having these issues when we got together – he never even mentioned it to us," guitarist Tony Iommi told Rolling Stone in 2012. "It was quite confusing. We wanted him involved, but it was just getting too hard."
"You can't go, 'Well, I don't like it,'" Osbourne said in the same interview. "You get off your ass and get your shit together. The life of a bohemian rock star is fucking long over."
In other Black Sabbath news, the group had scheduled an appearance at Ozzfest Japan, but subsequently canceled it in lieu of an appearance by Osbourne. Iommi, who has been battling lymphoma, released a statement saying that he was in good health to counter fans who thought an illness was the reason for the cancelation. The appearance had been billed as the group's "farewell" in a video by Sharon Osbourne, but a Sabbath rep told Rolling Stone that's not the case. "Although there have been discussions about a Sabbath Farewell Tour, nothing has been confirmed," she said.