Bill Ward has once again fired back at his former bandmates in BLACK SABBATH, insisting that it is "inaccurate" of Tony Iommi and Ozzy Osbourne to suggest he was physically unable to play full shows with the group.
All four original members of SABBATH were present when the band announced its reunion in late 2011. But Ward split from the group in 2012, citing an "unsignable" contract, and Ozzy, Tony and bassist Geezer Butler carried on with their Rick Rubin–produced "13" LP and extensive international touring without him. The final BLACK SABBATH tour, which concluded in February in Birmingham, saw the founding member replaced by session drummer Tommy Clufetos.
It was rumored that SABBATH wanted to bring a second drummer on the road to share duties with Ward, something that Iommi confirmed late last month during a question-and-answer session about SABBATH's forthcoming "Ten Year War" box set.
"It would have been nice to do these last shows with Bill, but it just didn't happen," Iommi said. "And it's silly, really, because it was over nothing. Even if he'd have played a couple of shows, it would've been great."
Iommi continued: "I don't think he quite realizes how hard it would have been on him. So we wanted to bring another drummer just in case Bill ended up saying 'I can't do it' for a couple of days or whatever. It's too risky to go out and then have Bill say 'I can't do it,' and you have to cancel [a show] on seventy thousand people, or whatever it might be. It's very hard, and it's not fair on the fans and it's not fair on him."
Ozzy told The Pulse Of Radio during SABBATH's last tour that Ward was not in shape to participate. "Bill Ward has got the most physically demanding job of the lot of us, 'cause he's the timekeeper," he said. "I don't think personally he had the chops to pull it off, you know. The saddest thing is that he needed to own up to that, and we could have worked around it, whether we had a drummer on the side with him or something."
Earlier tonight (Friday, August 18), Ward released a statement via his Facebook page in which he disputed his former bandmates' suggestion that he was not physically capable of touring and performing.
Bill wrote: "Again I feel in a position where I'm compelled to defend my actions in the period of 2011 up to, I suppose, today.
"Tony Iommi's comments and some of Ozzy's, remain in a place of disparaging remarks, which bring fault to my character as a person and a musician.
"I completely disagree with their comments. What they believe is quite opposite from my experience, especially in 2011 when no one spoke to me of being alarmed by my playing or my health. If they kept the info, which they so readily share now, to themselves in 2011, then let that be their shortcoming.
"How can I be judged that I could not do a tour when we were working on an album? How can I be judged in 2011 on health issues when none existed that would endanger a long-term tour? They all know very clearly how well I prepare to tour. I did not know I was being judged in 2011, if that is indeed their truth.
"Tony's comment (and I'm assuming it was in reference to me touring) was, 'I don't think he quite realizes how hard it would have been on him.'
"How can Tony say that? I know what it takes to tour. I've helped to set the physical and playing bar that was metal then and today. What an undermining, self-centered thing for Tony to say. What an inaccurate thing for Tony to say.
"I had played all the Ozzfests and SABBATH tours after the reunion. Keep in mind, they did one tour without me first, I think just to see if it could work without me.
"I'm sorry and mean no malice in saying this, but it was their fear, their mistrust, and their rationale that put back-up drummers on the stage at the reunion and other tours. I disliked that they did that, but understood they wanted to. I got on with my work, playing drums in SABBATH. Never once was a back-up drummer required, and no, I did not validate the fears of those who had fears.
"I missed a European tour after my one and only heart attack in 1998. I can appreciate that BLACK SABBATH's interests needed to be protected for the sake of future commitments to the fans, promoters, and all involved.
"Ozzy said 'the saddest thing is that he [Bill] needed to own up to that.' Own up to what in 2011? What was I supposed to own up to, when I felt exhilarated, confident, and strong? Own up to, I'm not up to this, I'm sick and can't play; those failings didn't exist in me, they still don't exist today. I had nothing to own up to, nothing to confess. The fact that Oz had reacted with sadness tells me he was already sold on his own judgement of me. And that is very sad to know.
"Tony commented, 'and it's silly, really, because it was over nothing.' I have to confront that statement. I can't let that wash into my life and my family's life, and the lives of all those affected by an original band failure.
"It was something. It meant everything to thousands of people, including me. It will always be something and it will always ring with truth, and actual correct accountability. By saying it was nothing dishonours the credibility of our fans, and insults the very heart of what we all clung to, BLACK SABBATH.
"I will have my experience in the time period of 2011 and Tony and Ozzy will have theirs. And, it's plain to me we're as opposite and opposing as ever.
"I won't forget Ozzy's last phone call of January 23rd or so, 2012 asking when I would arrive in England to commence rehearsals. Why would he say that if my performance level of 2011 had already been judged?
"I regret the loss of Ozzy's friendship.
"I regret the loss of Tony's friendship.
"Finally, and I've defended this many times, I couldn't play one gig or a couple of gigs here or there with a back-up drummer or no back-up drummer. To do that one gig would put me in an elitist position, and I can't do that for all the other fans who couldn't see that one gig.
"I'm honoured to have been a part of BLACK SABBATH, and to have played with Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne and Geezer Butler.
"Long live BLACK SABBATH."
Back in June, Ward told Rolling Stone magazine that he had "gone through a lot of tears" over his split with SABBATH. "I've grieved the loss of three of my best friends," he said. "I've grieved the loss of their company, their words, their laughter, their joy, and above all, their music... I've grieved the loss of the fans, and I've grieved the pain of what all this has created."
But he claimed at the time to have come out the other side. "I can't afford to have resentment," he explained. "I can't afford to be angry. I can't afford these things spiritually or physically. So I knew I had to be rid of them."