Black Sabbath adds unnamed U.S. stop; Bill Ward's status still up in the air

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An August date has been set for a U.S. stop by the reunited Black Sabbath, though whether it will include all four of the legendary metal band’s original members remains to be seen.

“They’re gonna be doing one show in America this summer, but I can’t say yet because we can’t announce it, the promoters have to,” Sharon Osbourne, wife and manager of co-founding vocalist Ozzy Osbourne told Dave Basner of the VH1 Radio Network. “But they are doing one show in August here together.”

Osbourne also confirmed that original drummer Bill Ward has yet to join in the reunion. Ward has previously said he is not participating because of a continuing disagreement of the proposed contract.

“It’s up to Bill,” Osbourne said. “The door is open for him to join us, so it’s up to him.”

The troubled reunion had already been slowed by a cancer diagnosis for Iommi — though he has continued work on the album after band members and crew joined him in the UK, where the guitarist has begun treatment. Then came word that Ward has yet to agree to a deal to join the reunited metal forefathers, who were attempting to complete the first project to include all four founding members since 1978.

“At this time, I would love nothing more than to be able to proceed with the Black Sabbath album and tour,” Ward said. “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.”

Black Sabbath then announced that it had cancelled all of its previously announced European dates, save for a headlining stop at the Download Festival on Sunday, June 10. The shows will instead be played by Ozzy Osbourne and a series of special guests, including Zakk Wylde on guitar and Sabbath co-founder Geezer Butler on bass.

Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Black Sabbath, and related solo projects. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

FORGOTTEN SERIES: BLACK SABBATH – SABOTAGE (1975): Sabotage isn’t likely to overtake the groundbreaking debut record or the hit-filled Paranoid as Sabbath’s best work in most people’s minds, and I understand that. But the next time you’re looking for a Sabbath fix, dig a little deeper and give it a listen, especially if you haven’t heard it in a while. It might just be a much better record than you remember. Recorded at a time when the relationships in the band were just beginning to fracture, the album has a slightly different feel than the first five Sabbath albums. Sabotage represents a band still at the height of its powers, but just on the brink of slipping into chaos, and that translates into the music.

DIO – HOLY DIVER (1983; 2012 Audio Fidelity remaster): Originally released in 1983, Holy Diver introduced Ronnie James Dio to the metal world as a solo artist after stints in classic bands Rainbow and Black Sabbath. But it was far from Dio’s first rodeo, as his career stretches back as far as the late 1950s. The results: an undisputed metal classic. It proved with the single “Rainbow in the Dark” that synthesizers could have a place in metal without taking away its toughness. The loping main riff of the title track is as immediately recognizable to classic rock fans as to hardcore metalheads. And for as much play as they get, those are not even the two best songs on the album.

WHOCARES, FEATURING TONY IOMMI AND IAN GILLAN – OUT OF MY MIND (2011): Just the reunion of Iommi and Gillan would likely be enough for most heavy rock fans, but the rest of the band reads like a who’s who of the genre. Gillan’s former Deep Purple bandmate Jon Lord handles the keys for the project. Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain and ex-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted make up the rhythm section. Representing the younger generation is guitarist Mikko “Linde” Lindstrom of HIM, who, at 34, is 14 years the junior of Newsted, the next youngest member, and 35 years younger than oldest member, Lord, who is 69. But all that goes to show is age doesn’t really matter when it comes to good music, and “Out of My Mind” is really good.

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