Black Sabbath to Play Ozzfest 2004 – Sort Of

This morning came some news that a lot of us were waiting for. The Reuters news service is running the following story about Black Sabbath playing Ozzfest…

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – British heavy metal pioneers Black Sabbath will reunite for the first time since 2001 for Ozzfest, which begins July 10 in Hartford, Conn., a spokeswoman for the annual road show said on Tuesday.
Ozzfest co-founder and headliner Ozzy Osbourne will revisit such hard rocking classics as “War Pigs” and “Paranoid” along with guitarist Tony Iommi and bass player Geezer Butler. But original drummer Bill Ward will be replaced by Mike Bordin, who backs Osbourne on his solo gigs.
Along with three-quarters of the original Black Sabbath, Ozzfest will also feature four-fifths of the original Judas Priest, and such acts as Slayer, Dimmu Borgir, Superjoint Ritual (featuring former Pantera singer Phil Anselmo) and Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society.
Black Sabbath, with Ward on board, last played live during the 2001 version of Ozzfest, but plans to play its own shows afterwards were canceled because Osbourne had to finish work on his solo album.

This is news that I’m sure everyone’s been wanting to know. Black Sabbath will be headlining Ozzfest 2004. However, and this is important, without Bill Ward. Mike Bordin will handle drums according to this announcement. We’ve seen this combination of Black Sabbath once already, back on Ozzfest 97, when Bill Ward was not invited to participate. Nothing against Mike Bordin, I’m sure he’s a fine chap, but he’s not Bill Ward. If they’re going to fiddle with the lineup like this.. No, I’m not gonna rant about this – not until I find out more info, but no Bill Ward? What’s up with that?
As I write this at 8AM on Tuesday morning, I’ve not heard from anyone officially about this. As soon as I post this, I will be contacting my contacts at Ozzy’s office, Tony’s management, as well as Bill’s people. If I hear anything more about this, I’ll update.
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UPDATE @ 1:15PM: This press release came out later in the morning. I still don’t have any word on whether or not the lack of an appearance by Bill Ward was Bill’s choice or someone else’s.

LOS ANGELES, May 18, 2004 ¯ Call it a mandate from the people. Call it a rumor that just won’t die. Call it what you want, but since the April 27 release of the CD/DVD BLACK BOX: THE COMPLETE ORIGINAL BLACK SABBATH (1970-1978), there’s been enormous public demand for a Black Sabbath tour. Original Black Sabbath members OZZY OSBOURNE, TONY IOMMI and GEEZER BUTLER (as well as Osbourne-solo band member Mike Bordin, on drums) – will storm the U.S., performing 26 shows on OZZfest, starting July 10 in Hartford, Conn.
The reviews of Black Box have been phenomenal: Rolling Stone: “[Black Box] sounds even better… in this eight-CD/one DVD set than it did on vinyl… all the Sabbath you’ll ever need. 4 STARS.” Spin noted, “Black Box collects the first eight albums… all skull-crushingly heavy.” For its part, Details declared: “This is evil,” calling the anthology “a boot crushing a windpipe… teeth on bone.” And Time Out New York proclaimed, “Black Box compiles a body of work more central to modern, popular music than that of any band since The Beatles.”
OZZfest had already unleashed the biggest buzz of the upcoming tour season, with OZZY (now as a member of BLACK SABBATH) to headline the main stage along with a fistful of rock legends, including a reunited Judas Priest, Slayer, Dimmu Borgir, Superjoint Ritual (featuring Phil Anselmo) and Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society. Fans checking out OZZfest’s Second Stage will get a real treat with a “get close to the fans” set by headliners Slipknot. Hatebreed, Lamb of God, Atreyu and 10 other up-and-comers will keep (hell) fires burning there throughout the day.