Earlier in the month, BLACK SABBATH drummer Bill Ward announced that he will not be able to participate in the recording of the reunited group’s new album or perform with them on tour unless he is presented with what he described as a “fair agreement” and a “signable contract” that financially reflects his contributions to SABBATH’s history and his standing as a founding member of the band.
BLACK SABBATH members Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne and Geeer Butler vowed to continue recording their new album without Ward, saying in a statement that they “were saddened to hear via Facebook that Bill declined publicly to participate in our current BLACK SABBATH plans… We have no choice but to continue recording without him although our door is always open… We are still in the U.K. with Tony. Writing and recording the new album and on a roll.”
In a statement posted on his official web site earlier today, Ward said, “Dear SABBATH fans, I wanted to let you know where things are at, from my point of view, as of today, February 17, 2012.
“As my statement of February 2, 2012 indicated, I have not declined to participate in the SABBATH album and tour. At the earliest opportunity, I am prepared to go to the U.K. and record, and later tour with the band.
“Last week, we sent further communication to the attorney handling the negotiations to try to reach an agreement. At this time we are waiting to hear back. I remain hopeful for a ‘signable’ contract and a positive outcome.
“I want to thank everyone who has voiced and posted their opinions, thoughts, support and love through all media, including the newly constructed sites. I applaud your worldwide reaction in support of the original band. And speaking for myself, your intent and truth will always be respected.
“While believing in your freedom for expression, 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.
“Many thanks to all of you. You are truly phenomenal.”
BLACK SABBATH toured without Ward when the original lineup reformed in 1997, but he rejoined the group the following year. In 2004 a contract dispute nearly caused him to not participate on that summer’s Ozzfest tour, but the matter was eventually resolved and the trek went ahead as scheduled.
On February 2, Ward issued a statement in which he said in part, “At this time, I would love nothing more than to be able to proceed with the BLACK SABBATH album and tour. However, I am unable to continue unless a ‘signable’ contract is drawn up; a contract that reflects some dignity and respect toward me as an original member of the band.”
Ward added that he worked last year in “good faith” with fellow original members Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler, including rehearsals and a November press conference in Los Angeles. But then, he wrote, “Several days ago, after nearly a year of trying to negotiate, another ‘unsignable’ contract was handed to me.”
The drummer, who played on 10 of SABBATH’s first 11 studio albums, emphasized, “Although this has put me in some kind of holding pattern, I am packed and ready to leave the U.S. for England. More importantly, I definitely want to play on the album, and I definitely want to tour with BLACK SABBATH.”
The recording sessions for the original band’s first new album in 33 years were recently moved to London so that Iommi, who is undergoing treatment for cancer, could be close to his doctors.
Ward wrote that he’s “spent every day” getting ready to head to England, but added, “My guess is . . . I will know nothing of what’s happening unless I sign ‘the unsignable contract.'”
He also wrote, “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.”
Ward addressed the possibility of his being replaced, saying, “I hope you will not hold me responsible for the failure of an original BLACK SABBATH lineup as promoted . . . It would be a sad day in rock if this current situation fell to the desires of a few.”
SABBATH is scheduled to release its new album later this year and is confirmed to play the U.K.’s Download festival in June. All other tour plans, however, are up in the air pending Iommi’s ability to overcome his illness.