Drummer Bill says he’s in “lousy and lonely” position after waiting a year for “signable” contract over metal giants’ reunion

Bill Ward of Black Sabbath

Lousy and lonely: Bill Ward

Bill Ward has threatened to quit the Black Sabbath reunion because he’s been waiting over a year for a contract he feels he can sign.

The metal giants announced they’d got back together in November, with singer Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler and Ward revealing they’d started work on a new album with producer Rick Rubin.

The band’s schedule was shattered in December when Iommi was diagnosed with cancer. Now their plans have been shaken again after Ward released a statement saying he felt he’d been put in a “lousy and lonely” place over stalled contract negotiations.

He says: “I am unable to continue unless a ‘singable’ contract is drawn up; a contract that reflects some dignity and respect toward me as an original member of the band. Last year, I worked diligently in good faith with Tony, Ozzy and Geezer. And on 11/11/11, again in good faith, I participated in the LA press conference. Several days ago, after nearly a year of trying to negotiate, another ‘unsignable’ contract was handed to me.

“I definitely want to play on the album, and I definitely want to tour with Black Sabbath.

“Since the news of Tony’s illness, and the understanding that the band would move production to the UK, I’ve spent every day getting in a place of readiness to leave. As I’ve tried to find out what’s going on with the UK sessions, I’ve realised that I’ve been getting ‘the cold shoulder’ – and, I might add, not for the first time.

“My guess is, as of today, I will know nothing of what’s happening unless I sign ‘the unsignable contract’.

“The place I’m in feels lousy and lonely, because as much as I want to play and participate, I also have to stand for something and not sign on. If I sign as-is, I stand to lose my rights, dignity and respectability as a rock musician.

“I believe in freedom and freedom of speech. I grew up in a hard rock/metal band. We stood for something then, and we played from the heart with honesty and sincerity. I am in the spirit of integrity, far from the corporate malady, I am real and honest, fair and compassionate.”

Ward insists he’s “good to go” as soon as he receives an appropriate offer from the band’s management, and adds: “If I’m replaced, I have to face you, the beloved Sabbath fans. I hope you will not hold me responsible for the failure of an original Black Sabbath lineup as promoted. Without fault finding, I want to assure everyone that my loyalty to Sabbath is intact.

“My position is not greed-driven. I’m not holding out for a ‘big piece’ of the action like some kind of blackmail deal. I’d like something that recognises and is reflective of my contributions to the band, including the reunions that started fourteen years ago.

“After the last tour I vowed to never again sign on to an unreasonable contract. I want a contract that shows some respect to me and my family – a contract that will honour all that I’ve brought to Black Sabbath since its beginning.”

Ward was the original drummer for Heaven and Hell, the alternative Sabbath lineup fronted by Ronnie James Dio until his death in 2010. He was replaced by Vinny Appice and later explained he hadn’t felt comfortable with the setup.

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