‘We were sort of used to it’: Bill Ward’s latest absence from Black Sabbath wasn’t a surprise

Tony Iommi takes a long view on the controversy involving Bill Ward’s absence from the recent Black Sabbath reunion. After all, in a stint with the band that goes back to the 1960s, he’s seen it all before.

Ward was to be part of the celebrated 13 project reuniting all of Black Sabbath’s founders, until contract talks apparently broke down. That left Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne and Geezer Butler to search elsewhere for a drummer. Still, for all of the media attention, Iommi reminds everyone thay it’s not the first time he’s been in that position.

“It’s been an on/off thing with Bill now for many years,” Iommi tells Paul Cashmere of Noise11. “It was disappointing. We were all disappointed, but it had happened before with Heaven and Hell. We wanted Bill to come in, and we got rolling — and then Bill sort of left again. So, we were sort of used to it, really.”

In fact, Iommi has recorded a number of Black Sabbath albums without Ward, Osbourne, Butler or notable replacements like Ronnie James Dio. “It’s really difficult to replace original members — because that’s the sound that you have, that you all created,” Iommi says. “It was just that I never left; I carried on. So, what do you do? You try and make the best of it that you can.”

13, using the services of Brad Wilk on drums, would become a blockbuster nevertheless — helping Black Sabbath to its first-ever No. 1 U.S. ranking last summer.

“It was a shame, though,” Iommi adds. “We would liked to have Bill on the album, and I’m sure Bill would have liked to have been on it. But it just got to a silly situation, and it just didn’t happen.”

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