Bill Ward will not take part in any forthcoming Black Sabbath gigs
Estranged Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward has confirmed that he
will not be taking part in any of the three Black Sabbath shows set
for this summer.
Ward released a statement (which you can read below) on his
website, Billward.com, saying that he will not be playing with the
band at their Birmingham show on May 19, nor with them at Download
Festival on June 10 or at Lollapalooza in Chicago on August 3.
Ward had been keeping fans up-to-date on his website as
negotiations continued with those running the reunion. Bill
originally said back in February that he wouldn't be participating
until a "'signable' contract" was presented to him that would
reflect "some dignity and respect toward me as an original member
of the band." Later in that month, he said that the lines of
communications were still open.
Today, he posted the following on his official site:
Dear Sabbath Fans and Fellow Musicians,
I sincerely regret to inform you that after a final effort to
participate in the upcoming Sabbath shows a failure to agree has
continued. At this time I have to inform you that I won't be
playing with Black Sabbath at the Birmingham gig dated May 19th,
2012, nor will I be playing at Download on June 10th, 2012.
Further, I will not be playing at Lollapalooza on August 3,
It is with a very sad heart that I bring you this news. I am
sincerely passionate in my desire to play with the band, and I'm
very, very sorry that it's fallen to this. This statement is even
more painstaking to write, as I was particularly excited to play
alongside Tony Iommi after the recent treatments he underwent. I
wanted that to become a reality.
To express my thoughts about you, the Sabbath fans, I'm going to
speak to you all through an experience my brother James had
recently. My brother Jimmy lives in the U.K. When speaking with him
a couple of days ago, he told me that an acquaintance had stopped
him on the street and confronted him, 'is your brother playing
Birmingham? What's going on? I waited in line with my son and paid
x amount for the concert tickets.'
The man's son is a young drummer. He's going to see Sabbath, and
he wants to see Bill Ward play drums. Upon hearing this news, I
felt horrible. I couldn'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. To be
clear, I'm not blaming the other guys or finding any faults with
them. I would think it can't be easy for them either, but this
situation is just really sad. It's sad that it's come to this.
'This' will surely leave a mark and be unwelcome to the memory.
Hopefully 'this' will heal and pass in time.
My heart sank when Jimmy told me about this young boy. I know
this boy is going to be disappointed, and I don't know how to amend
it, other than to put my arms around the boy and tell him I love
him. Sabbath fans have a voice and a face, to me you're human, you
have families and despair. You have ferocity and emotions and
graciousness, and at this moment as far as I'm concerned you are
also that young boy in England. I don't know how to amend my part
in these failings other than to put my arms around you and say I
love you and let you know I'm very, very sorry.
Throughout this process, which began over a year ago, I have had
to stand up for myself time and time again. I have had to stand up
for myself and in doing so realize my actions indirectly, although
unintentionally, are upsetting and hurting a lot of you. I know in
my heart I couldn't have done these concerts by agreeing the terms
suggested. I made a solemn vow after the last European and Ozzfest
concerts that I would never again enter into what was, in my
opinion, a totally unsatisfactory contract. I have to stand for
something, and as painful as it is, I'm doing it.
Earlier in April 2012, I'd been asked to participate 'minimally'
in the Download festival. I believe I'd been offered no more than
three songs to play while another drummer presumably played the
rest of the show with Black Sabbath. I was not willing to
participate in that offer. I was not prepared to watch another
drummer play a Sabbath set, while I was to play only three
I found out about the Birmingham gig on Monday, April 30 through
the Internet ad. I was taken aback somewhat by the date, and the
fact it was Birmingham. Knowing the 'signable' contract
negotiations were at best in shreds, I was upset by the idea that
the band was going to play Birmingham and play it assumedly without
me. I had no prior knowledge of the date and location, and I felt
totally excluded. We contacted the representative for Black Sabbath
to see if something could be worked out. In the meantime my drum
crew and I, along with our US endorsers, finished all the necessary
planning for a swift departure to the UK. There wasn't a whole lot
to complete; we'd all been on standby more or less since
mid-January 2012. The remaining work in the UK was confirmed done
by our European and UK endorsers and we were good to go by Friday,
May 4 2012. There were two stress points: firstly, getting an
agreement in place, and secondly, getting to England in a timely
manner. Jetlag time was taken into account as well as drum
practice, a drum practice room in the heart of Birmingham,
accommodation, and travel arrangements were all in place to meet
with any band rehearsals that may have transpired before the
Birmingham show. So far everything that had been arranged was on my
dime, but we didn't move ahead without a realistic
Communications between the representative and my lawyer
continued through the weekend of May 5 finalizing on Wednesday, May
9. The offer we received on May 9 was, 'come to the UK, play for
free and see how the first show goes.' I was tempted. Playing for
free would not have been a problem for me, but 'seeing how the
first show goes' left an element of risk which could have affected
Download. My ideal thought was to play in full the Birmingham show,
in full Download, and in full Lollapalooza.
I had notified the representative that May 10 was my cutoff day
in order to have good lead-in time for England. On the night of May
9 I asked for a brief letter to be sent to the representative
asking to find out if we were at an end. On the morning of
Thursday, May 10, I received a reply in the affirmative. After
consulting with my advisors and crew a decision was made to let go
I can't prioritize the Sabbath fans making one show more
important than the other. I can't do that. All of you are
important. It's all the gigs or none at all. I can't come to
Birmingham and 'see what happens' knowing there is a risk of not
being able to play Download or Lollapalooza. Again, for me, it's
all or nothing. I had to say 'no' to Birmingham on the principle of
wanting to play all the shows. Saying no to Birmingham is very
difficult for me. My family grew up in Birmingham. Black Sabbath
grew up in Birmingham. It's still my hometown and I resent having
to arrive at such a difficult choice.
Although the statement was made that, 'the door is always open'
for me, as explained above, walking through that door is not always
as easy as it sounds. There are many complicated issues and unseen
and unspoken agendas on hand. I can assure you, my criteria for a
'signable' contract is based in mindful principles, respectability,
and acknowledgement of my history within the band.
I hold no malice or resentment towards the other band members. I
love them; I'm tolerant of them; I'm frustrated with them, as they
may be with me. My fight has never been with them. I'll love them
forever. In my opinion, nobody wins this time; the band doesn't
win; the fans for an original lineup don't win. Nobody wins,
nobody. Even the ones who thought they did.
I didn't want to make this decision, but I have to be honest and
transparent. This is the statement I didn't want to write; it's the
last thing I wanted to do. But, I have written it, and now it can
go into the universe.
Since Spring of 2011, I've waited patiently and hopefully for a
signable contract, you know the rest. I stand for the boy in the
U.K., for the coming drum student, for all the drummers, who write
their parts out and get stiffed on the publishing, I stand with the
Sabbath fans chanting 'Bill Ward' and asking 'why?' and I stand
with Tony and Geezer and Ozzy.
On a final note, even though I'm at an end with the upcoming
announced concerts, I will remain with an open mind and a position
of willingness to negotiate 'signable' terms with Sabbath's
representatives in the future.
With all my heart and strength, I love you,