BLACK SABBATH drummer Bill Ward has spoken in more detail about why he terminated his involvement with HEAVEN & HELL — the band featuring fellow SABBATH members Tony Iommi (guitar), Geezer Butler (bass) and Ronnie James Dio (vocals) — in November 2006 while the group was recording three new tracks to be included on the BLACK SABBATH collection “Black Sabbath: The Dio Years”.
During an appearance on the latest episode of VH1 Classic “That Metal Show” co-host Eddie Trunk’s podcast, Ward was asked why he didn’t appear at a scheduled interview in 2006 to promote what eventually turned out to be the “Dio Years” project. He explained: “I was working on drum sounds, and I had chosen to prioritize the tracks. There wasn’t a lot of time — the kind of time that I needed at least — to initiate what I would consider to be good drum tracks. So I needed to utilize the time that was given to try to get the best tracks that I possibly could. And so I was working on that. But what showed up was a bad contract. The bad contract showed up, and the track that I was laying down, which actually turned out to be just fine… But at the time, when I was laying the track down, there was some controversy between myself and another member of that band. And I’ve gotta be very careful here how I’m saying that. But there was definitely a rub — to the point where I came in and laid the tracks down, and I don’t think I met the kind of criteria that one of the members wanted. And when I eventually listened to the tracks being played, I listened to it and went, ‘My God…’ ‘Cause Vinny [Appice] came in and played the tracks. And I listened to it and I went, ‘My God! That’s exactly what I was fucking playing.’ …But the dispute was already over and done with. I had a huge argument about something, and I felt like I had been led down a slippery slope. And already being led down some slippery slopes, I’m very guarded. So I just went, you know… And, basically, they called it, and I was out. And I didn’t feel comfortable with it at all. So that’s what happened.”
Ward’s latest comments echo remarks he made about HEAVEN & HELL in a 2010 interview with U.K.’s Rock Radio. He stated at the time about “The Dio Years” sessions: “There was a track that I was uncomfortable with. And I was trying to accomodate the wishes of a couple of the bandmembers, and I’m not very good when I have to do that. I guess I’m just not that kind of a drummer; I have to play the way that I feel it. The way that a couple of the guys wanted the drumming to be, I was unable to accomodate it; I didn’t see it that way at all. So it was a problem musically.”
He continued: “All the way through that particular project, everybody had an open mind — I had an open mind; I didn’t know if it was gonna work or not work. I went in there and tried to lay some track in the best way I could, and it was one of those musical things that didn’t work out, as far as I was concerned.
“I can’t remember initially… At the time, I think, there were some things that were said about me having other schedules to meet and so on and so forth, and that wasn’t the case at all. It was definitely a misunderstanding.”
Ward added: “I was uncomfortable with some of the things surrounding that particular project. So, that was it. And I moved out. I thought Vinny would be a much better choice [for HEAVEN & HELL], because Vinny is able to do those kinds of things… he’s able to accomodate the kinds of things the kind of things that were being asked, and I’m not. I react. I’m a reactionary drummer, and Vinny plays drums; there’s a big difference between us.”
Iommi also talked about Ward’s non-involvement with HEAVEN & HELL during a separate interview with Rock Radio. He said: “Bill Ward is not a part of this mainly because of his choice.”
He continued: “Originally, when we put the three [new] tracks together for ‘The Dio Years’ [compilation], I asked Bill if he wanted to be involved with it and he said, ‘Yeah.’ And I said, ‘Well, you’re gonna have to come to England from California and I’ll run through the songs with you, what we’re gonna do.’ So he did. And he couldn’t quite grasp it that quick, and we needed to… The record company was asking for the songs fairly quick — they wanted to get them out. And Bill wanted to take more time doing it, and it was getting longer and longer, and we thought, ‘Well, it’s probably best we don’t do them with Bill,’ because Bill was feeling uncomfortable. And it felt even more uncomfortable when we [spoke] to him about touring for a year. He sort had a fit, because Bill hasn’t done that extensive touring for a long time. And we were planning on doing a lot of touring. So Bill said, ‘I don’t think I’m gonna be up for touring to that extent.’ And we thought it’s probably best that we bring Vinny into this situation, because Vinny has done more [BLACK SABBATH] albums with Ronnie [on vocals] than Bill has — Bill has only played on the one album, which is ‘Heaven And Hell’, and Vinny has played on ‘Mob Rules’ and ‘Dehumanizer’, and, of course, all the live sets, so it seemed the obvious thing to have Vinny back.”
HEAVEN & HELL released one album, “The Devil You Know”, to critical and commercial acclaim before Dio died of stomach cancer in 2010.
Ward was on board for the original BLACK SABBATH reunion when it was first announced in November 2011, but backed out soon after. He later claimed that he sat out the recording and touring sessions because of unfair contractual terms, although the members of SABBATH have hinted in other interviews that he wasn’t physically up to the task.
SABBATH has used Ozzy’s regular touring drummer Tommy Clufetos since then for live work. RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE’s Brad Wilk laid down the drum tracks on SABBATH’s “13” album, which came out in June 2013.