Ozzy Explains Bill Ward’s Absence
5/6/2013 11:39:00 AM
It’s not easy being in a band, and it’s often described as like being in a dysfunctional marriage.. with several guys.. who all usually have a drug or alcohol problem. Very few bands are immune to this reality, most will succumb to the trails of recording, labels, touring, promotion, and fame. Sabbath has certainly been one of those bands, surviving the business by changing it’s lineup many times. Even the new reunion lineup has had its drama in regards to the loss of Bill Ward.
“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?’ said Ozzy to Mojo.
We must remember that the drummer in any band, especially a hard rock band, is a very demanding and integral part of the band. It requires endurance, durability, skill, musicianship, and tenacity. It makes sense for the band to wonder if Bill was up to the task. He is, after all, 65 years old.
“My suggestion was that we run through a set and see how he got on. He was so out of condition – and the drummer is the most demanding job in the whole band. Bill couldn’t remember what the fuck we were doing. You know them yellow stick-on memo notes? He had them all over his fucking drums. I was like, ‘What the fuck’s that for, Bill?’ He said, ‘I can’t remember what I’m doing.’
Let’s face it, Bill was in the middle of an embarrassing situation. He wanted to be a part of his old band. The fans wanted him to be a part of it. Even the band was hopeful, but in the end the mans body just wasn’t up to the task.
“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.” mentioned Ozzy. “I get where he’s coming from – his pride was hurt,” he reflects. “And I get it. I really do get it. The guy will always be a dear, dear friend and a brother to me.
There is a lesson to be learned from all of this. As a musician, there is a price to pay as you get older. Keeping your chops up is not as easy as it once was. One is not able to simply sit down at a drum set after a long absence and just bang his way back into tour shape. It requires constant maintenance, practice, and dedication, and even with all of that the human body can still stand up and say “nope, sorry brutha, this dog just can’t hunt anymore”.
I know that I’m not alone in the hope that one day we will see Bill back up on stage with Sabbath as part of the reunion. Even if it was for only 1 or 2 songs, it would be simply outstanding to the original lineup back on stage.