Iommi’s cancer fight forces cancellation but Ozzy and friends will replace dates as Ward remains hopeful of staying in band

Black Sabbath have called off their reunion tour as a result of guitarist Tony Iommi’s ongoing battle with cancer.

They’ll play just one show from the planned dates, at the UK’s Download Festival in June. The previously announced shows will be performed by singer Ozzy Osbourne and bassist Geezer Butler with guest artists including Zakk Wylde and Slash.

The metal giants announced they’d started work on the first album featuring their original lineup last year – but almost immediately ran into trouble, with Iommi revealing he’d been diagnosed with lymphoma, then drummer Bill Ward saying he hadn’t been offered a contract he found “signable”.

In a statement the band say: “Sabbath have had to put some plans on hold due to Tony Iommi’s battle with lymphoma.

“So as not to let the promoters and fans down, Ozzy Osbourne will perform the majority of the previously scheduled Sabbath dates, billed as Ozzy And Friends. The shows will feature Geezer Butler and former Ozzy band member Zakk Wylde. In addition, Ozzy will be accompanied by Slash at certain shows, with other special guests set to join the tour at various stops along the way.

“Tony continues to make excellent progress and is looking forward to getting back on the road. Black Sabbath continue to write and record music in the UK for their upcoming album.”

Meanwhile, Ward has commented on the grassroots support shown for his contractual struggles with Sabbath’s management. He’s underlined that he hasn’t refused to be part of the reunion, and remains hopeful their issues can be resolved.

The drummer says: “Last week we sent further communication to the attorney handling the negotiations to try to reach an agreement. We are waiting to hear back.

“I want to thank everyone who has voiced and posted their opinions. I applaud your worldwide reaction in support of the original band. Speaking for myself, your intent and truth will always be respected.”

But he adds: “Keep in mind that Tony, Ozzy and Geezer are still my lifetime friends, and I cannot support comments with an objectifying or derogatory theme toward them or their various representatives.”

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