A week or so ago when Bill Ward dropped that bombshell online about his contract situation and the Black Sabbath reunion, I was privy to it about 5 minutes before it was put online. As you probably remember, I handle Bill’s website, and his manager sent me that, asked me to put it on his site. Obviously, I read it first, and my immediate thought was, “There goes the web server”. (Which turned out to be true).
Anyway, in the time that’s happened since, there’s been an awful lot of reactions online. The overwhelming majority of the reaction has been some sort of “Come on guys, get your shit together, get this worked out”. I’ve seen the gamut of reaction from the positive to the negative – on all sides. Those calling out the guys for not getting it settled before the 11-11-11 presser, those villifying Sharon Osbourne (which is a sadly too easy shot to take), those ragging on Bill for taking away their reunion, those calling for a 25/25/25/25 split of the pot, etc, etc, etc..
I’m not surprised at that, because for a lot of people, this will be their only chance to see Mk I Black Sabbath. Of course, they played together a ton of times from 1999 through 2005, so it’s not like it hasn’t happened, but still. I’ve noticed when you mix metalheads, emotion, money, and high expectations, there’s going to be a ton of how shall we say, “emotional responses”… and there’s been a lot of them online the last few days.
In the last 48 hours or so, I’ve seen a few stories in particular that make me scratch my head at the Internet in general, and it’s ability to fact check itself. The first is that Sharon Osbourne “fired” Bill Ward, and another that the other three have replaced Bill Ward with Tommy Clufetos (from Ozzy’s solo band), or Bill Ward quit, and is refusing to come on board, etc… Let’s look at some FACTS:
- Bill Ward issued a statement saying that he won’t sign the contract offered to him, and isn’t with the guys as they work on the new album.
- The next day, the other three guys issued a statement saying basically “We’re sorry Bill feels that way, but we’re gonna keep working, the door is open”. (I’m paraphrasing).
- Bill issued a thank you statement for the support he’s gotten from the fans.
That’s about it, folks. Those are the only FACTS as we know them that have been released by the band. Unless the band announces it, it’s all rumour. I’m sorry, but I don’t deal in rumors for the most part.
Obviously, given none of us as fans are privy to the contracts involved, it’s impossible to know for sure what’s really going on. I’ve known Bill since about 1997 when I started doing his site, and if there’s one thing he never struck me as is a liar. Those accusations I’ve seen are fairly annoying. I know they’ve annoyed his family, one of Bill’s sons ranted last night online about the inaccuracies of what’s been said about his dad.
My point in posting here is that we all need to take a deep breath, calm down, and for God’s sake, deal in facts, not rumor and speculation. There’s enough crap in the world, without inventing it. Obviously, there’s an unpleasant situation going on. If Black Sabbath actually ANNOUNCES that they’ve replaced Bill with Tommy Clufetos, or Vinny Appice, or Lee Kerslake (har har har), then we can react. But honestly, reacting to a news rumor story is a bit over the top, and it doesn’t help anything.
Now obviously, if Tony, Geezer, Oz (& Adam Wakeman from what I believe) are continuing to work on the new album, then someone probably has to physically sit there on drums (unless they ignore that and do a drum machine in the interim), but that’s all practical matters and facts that I suspect we’ll never hear about. But again…. Speculation. Not fact.
What do I think personally? I am a bit puzzled as to why it wasn’t worked out before 11-11-11, but this really feels like 2004 again. The same thing happened then. It got worked out then. I suspect it will get worked out again, but I have ZERO facts behind that. Yes, I occasionally know things before they’re announced, but not this time. I have no inside information on this situation, I’m just going on personal speculation here. But I present it as such. I do not present this as fact, it’s my own speculation and thoughts on the matter.
I want Bill back there as a fan of the band as much as anyone else. But genuine rage and being REALLY pissed off is counterproductive. As much as we all want this to happen, it’s ultimately just about music. There’s more important things in life to get seriously worked up about.
Now.. Come on guys. Get it worked out. We want a true Mk I Reunion! :)
UPDATE: I meant to say this when I wrote the article earlier, but I was in a hurry, and forgot.
There’s also the issue of Iommi’s cancer – it’s a huge, and massive unknown variable. If you’ve ever dealt with cancer before, you know how unpredictable it can be. Even if they resolve it with Bill, who knows what kind of condition Tony might be in. We may NOT get a full tour because of Tony’s health, too – we may yet get the tour. It’s all up in the air at the moment. I wonder if this has anything to do with the removal of the tour date page from the Official Black Sabbath website.
Anyway, just take it easy and ride it out. Don’t panic. :)
UPDATE 2: Later this afternoon, Sharon Osbourne took to Twitter to post the following text:
I am not in any position to hire or fire anyone in Black Sabbath. I don’t manage the band, I manage my husband.
I’ve been trying to tell people that for awhile now, but so many people seem hell bent on just vilifying her first, they can’t see the reality. Black Sabbath is not managed by one single person, and when it’s not managed by one single person, there is no arbitrary “firing” capability like that. Sharon’s done a lot of things over the years, but I tend to buy this one.