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Ozzy Osbourne on Fallout with Bill Ward: ‘He Couldn’t Remember What the F— We Were Doing’

Ozzy Osbourne and Bill Ward
Scott Gries, Getty Images

Last year, original Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward took his exit from the band’s reunion plans. Ward had cited an “unsatisfactory contract” as the reason for his departure, but in a new interview, Black Sabbath singer Ozzy Osbourne says Ward was unable to meet the physical and mental demands that come with performing a full set behind the kit.

“I know in my heart I couldn’t have done these concerts by agreeing to the terms suggested,” Ward wrote in his May 2012 statement on his departure from the Sabbath reunion. “I made a solemn vow after the last European and Ozzfest concerts that I would never again enter into what was, in my opinion, a totally unsatisfactory contract. I have to stand for something, and as painful as it is, I’m doing it.”

Despite Ward’s claims, Ozzy Osbourne recently told Mojo about problems Ward ran into during Black Sabbath’s reunion rehearsals. “I guess it’s to do with finances or something,” begins Osbourne. “But there was also another side to it. When Bill came along, we all had to ask, ‘Can he do an hour-and-a-half, two-hour gig? Can he cope?’ My suggestion was that we run through a set and see how he got on because he was so out of condition and the drummer is the most demanding job in the whole band. We looked at Bill, and he couldn’t remember what the f— we were doing. But he didn’t come clean and say, ‘I can’t cut this gig, but can we work something out, guys, where I’ll come on but with another drummer backing me up?’ Or, ‘I’ll come and play a few songs.’ That would have been cool.”

Ozzy continues, “I get where he’s coming from, though. His pride was hurt and I get it. I really do get it. The guy will always be a dear, dear friend and a brother to me, but … He can’t be surprised that he didn’t get the gig. … You know them yellow f—ing stick-on memo notes? He had them all over his f—ing drums. I was like, ‘What the f—’s that for, Bill?’ He said, ‘I can’t remember what I’m doing.’ I go, ‘How are you gonna remember out of those 500,000 bits of paper stuck all over your kit, which one you’re looking at, Bill?’ [He said] ‘I’ll know.’ Ah, okay great. I’m not gonna give Bill a hatchet job, but at the same time we haven’t got the patience to deal with it.”

Interestingly enough, in the drummer’s official statement of departure, Ward actually wrote about Black Sabbath asking him to “participate minimally” at the 2012 Download Festival. “Earlier in April 2012, I’d been asked to participate “minimally” in the Download festival,” Ward writes. “I believe I’d been offered no more than three songs to play while another drummer presumably played the rest of the show with Black Sabbath. I was not willing to participate in that offer. I was not prepared to watch another drummer play a Sabbath set, while I was to play only three songs.”

Black Sabbath are planning to invade North America this summer for a full scale tour. To check out the full list of tour dates, click here.

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