Original BLACK SABBATH drummer Bill Ward says that he is "at peace" with his former bandmates despite not having spoken to them in two years.
Ward backed out of the SABBATH reunion in early 2012 after being offered a contract that he called "unsignable." It was rumored that SABBATH wanted to bring a second drummer on the road to share duties with Ward, reportedly because he was unable physically to play full shows.
SABBATH's most recent touring drummer was Tommy Clufetos, who is also in Ozzy's solo band.
"I've gone through a lot of tears," Ward told Rolling Stone. "I've grieved the loss of three of my best friends. 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."
Ward, who has said several times that the contract he was offered to join the SABBATH reunion was "impossible to sign," has decided to move on with a positive attitude. "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."
SABBATH guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler appeared in public with Ward for the first time since late 2011 at the Ivor Novello Awards in London, England in May 2015. The members of the legendary metal act were on hand to accept a Lifetime Achievement Award.
"It was cordial," Ward said about reconnecting with his former bandmates and friends. "It was really nice. It fell right into place, like nothing had happened. It was very nice to see Terry [Geezer Butler], and I miss Terry a lot. It was really nice to see Tony — I miss Tony, too. I miss Oz. I think about Ozzy [Osbourne] all the time. This is not to discount Tony or Terry, but probably the biggest loss has been Oz. I loved him in a very special way. That's been the toughest one to let go and to wish him farewell and happiness in his life and everything else."
According to Ward, he has had no contact with his former bandmates since he saw Iommi and Butler at the Ivor Novello Awards. "I haven't talked to anybody or written any private e-mails to anybody," he said. "I think there's been a couple of other press statements that might have gone backwards and forwards, but that's been about it, really. I'm at peace with those guys. If something comes up that I feel is contradictory, I'll always make a statement back in defense of whatever I need to defend. But my general outlook towards them is not of resentment, it's not of fear, it's not of hatred or anything like that. I actually really, really, really love these guys. I wish them absolutely nothing but the very best, I wish them nothing but the best in their lives. Every day, I say prayers and I wish for them health and happiness and just nothing but good things to befall them. I [don't] in any way... have any grudges or any arrogance or anything else. It's been like that for a while. At first, I was really upset but I've cooled off a lot. I'm in a different place; I've moved on. But I haven't moved on from the idea of if [they] ever wanted to play again. I've not moved on from that idea. That would be something that would have to be worked out. But if they've moved on from that idea, then that's fine, I'll support that. I haven't moved on. I've been told to have an open mind, so I'm going to be open-minded about it... That's how I feel about them. I don't have any anxiety about them or any tragedy anymore."
Ward added that he is "open-minded" to the idea of playing with SABBATH again at some point in the future. "It depends what it is and it depends what all it [entails]," he said. "But I definitely have an open mind. I'd be stupid not to. Time's moving on; we're getting older. I've loved them guys for a long time now. I love BLACK SABBATH's music."
The drummer added that he was a better place after spending the first couple of years mourning the end of his relationship with SABBATH. "What I'm going through and what I'm passing through, I hope it will help with the healing," he added. "I know a lot of people were disturbed; I know a lot of people were put out. A lot of people have been very sad and have had to grieve themselves. This has been an unbelievable [sighs], historical catastrophe. I think that I'll always be indebted and in regret to how SABBATH ends. I'll aways be. The only thing I can say is that I tried to stay true to myself, and because of that, I paid the ultimate price. I can only ask for forgiveness for trying to stay true to myself."
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."
Ward was reportedly insulted when SABBATH offered him a contract stipulating that he would only play a portion of the show each night, with another drummer along to take over.