Bill Ward’s Tribute to Tony Iommi

This past Saturday was the most recent episode of “Rock 50” with Bill Ward.  Rock 50 is a show on college radio station WPMD in Cerritos, CA.  Once a month, Bill comes in and is the DJ, picks the tunes, and occasionally dispenses some nuggets from his past.  Most of the tunes he plays are more modern metal, but he goes all over the place from Pink Floyd, Buddy Holly, Luciano Pavarotti, and Type O Negative.

Bill also will do themed “tributes” to various artists for whatever reason.  On this episode, Bill did a tribute to Tony Iommi because of Tony’s recent 64th birthday).   Bill talked a little about Tony’s birthday in intro-ing the piece.  Bill played several Black Sabbath songs.  Here’s what was played:

  1. Wicked World
  2. Embryo / Children of the Grave / The Haunting
  3. Johnny Blade
  4. Air Dance
  5. Hand of Doom
  6. Orchid

Bill picked the pieces to showcase Tony’s playing styles.  I was quite pleased at the inclusion of not just one, but TWO tracks from the Never Say Die album.  That album usually gets forgotten about, or slagged off when talking about the Ozzy era.  I’ve always felt Johnny Blade is a lost classic – Tony’s riffing in that track, and especially towards the end just shreds.  Air Dance is just awesome – I love the musical experimentation on this album.

Anyway, after the tracks were over, Bill reminisced a little about a few of the tracks.   Here’s a few tidbits from what he said:

  • Recalling the first album, Bill talked about the cover track “Warning” (which he said was incorrectly named on the album as “The Warning”).  He said live that Tony would do his improv stuff in the middle, and sometimes play for half an hour at a time on his own, bringing the house down with his riffs.
  • Bill called “Children of the Grave” one of his favorite tracks to play live with the Sabs, going on to call the track “.. a drummer’s dream”
  • Bill also talked about the Johnny Blade track.  His first reaction upon hearing the opening riff for the first time was that it sounded like something from the Shadows.  Upon hearing it, he got up and jumped behind his kit to play behind Tony’s off the cuff riffing.  Bill also said it was bloody freezing in Toronto where they were. :)

If you have never checked out Bill’s Rock 50 show, you really should.   I looked over at the site for the radio station, and the most recent episode is available as a replay.  If you go to the WPMD website, you can listen to several replays of their shows – one of which is Bill’s Rock 50.  Check out the media player on the front page.

For the record, nothing was said about the 2012 Reunion / New album stuff.  No surprise there, I wouldn’t think Bill would talk about that on his show.


  1. ed radulski says


    • Robert Sienko says

      Thanks, Joe….for sharing some very interesting insights from one of the best rock drummers of all time….thanks also for the great site & keeping all the Sabbath “Heads” up to date with the latest info

  2. Very cool little piece Joe, thanks a lot for sharing Bill’s insights :) great stuff!

  3. Great Post Joe, your so “into it” you would be a great announcer I bet ! I also think NSD is a great LP, and really dig his heavy lead in Shockwave, SABS always my #1 band since I was 12 (51 now), being a musician one must keep an open mind to ALL music even if you don’t happen to like some genre, Rush is another great band and the solo in Limelight has that “heavy feel” when Alex breaks into his solo, but in Shockwave sense the album cover is themed with a jet plane it just seems to put you in the cockpit as your doing maneuvers in your mind. I don’t know if anyone else gets a sense of “texture” each album has as an artist paints 2 master pieces and they both are very different, I find the same thing in each album, if a picture is worth a 1000 word how much is an LP worth ?.

  4. oh and P.S., I’m glad to hear someone else is listening to the show besides me !!!

  5. YES! Finally a little love for the Never Say Die album. When any established band deviates from their traditional sound, it’s going to create some resentment within their fanbase. You simply can’t deny how good a lot of those songs were, however, albeit a far cry from the traditional Sabbath sound. I’d love to see ‘Air Dance’ on the setlist for the possible shows this summer…which I realize has about as much a chance of happening as a ‘Seventh Star’ line-up reunion…but I never thought they’d pull out ‘Spiral Architect’ again so who knows.

  6. Chris La Scola says

    Surprised…No HEAVEN AND HELL?! That is a showcase Iommi album as well.

  7. Chris Tatton says

    I agree that Never Say Die! is very underrated and slagged off by fans, but in truth it is a magnificent album.

  8. God bless you, Bill Ward

  9. Air dance is my favourite sabbath track. Period!

  10. Bill Ward is without a doubt one of the very underrated percussionist of all time. Whatever Bill decides to do
    about recording the upcoming album and going on the road for the upcoming tour will be his decision and should never be held against him. Music is a business. All Sabbath fans must respect Bill’s decision. BILL


  12. merci thank you
    you are a very nice person bill!!!

  13. Jeff Downing says

    Bill is an interesting person, and a huge part of the band, if an often unsung one. In the Sabbath documentaries or features where he is interviewed, his stories and insights are usually the most revealing and sincere. Could not agree more about the Never Say Die album. It’s beyond incredible that the album was recorded under such dire circumstances, was not a commercial success, and largely shrugged off by the band themselves, and yet is an amazing album. It was perhaps an experiment that was doomed to fail, especially if one looks at the music scene in 1978. But nothing sounds like it. They stretched out on songs as never beforek, or since. And to my mind it was a dynamite and criminally overlooked album. It is perhaps the one I most listen to of all of them. And that is saying something, believe me.

  14. Hi Bill!
    Do you have any News about your differences with the other Black Sabbath Members?

  15. thank you monsieur!!!!!

  16. LOVE NEVER SAY DIE!!! Hard Road is one of the all time best Sabbath songs. Shockwave is another, Juniors Eyes..come one great stuff. Used to love getting all drunk and cranking that album.

  17. Great to see Never Say Die get some air time, and the positive comments. There are some astoundingly good tracks on it, Bill played two of them.

  18. Awesome post. Never Say Die is a classic! Glad it got some much needed love. The end of Air Dance always makes me want to listen to some Goblin!

  19. I’m so glad to see that there are others who understand the masterpiece which is NEVER SAY DIE. Jeff Downing said it all. Even Ozzy harshly dismisses that album, and that makes me sad. I wonder are THEY (Sabbath) aware what a special album they made in 1978.

    • TomOzzy123 says

      I saw an interview with Tony Iommi on That Metal Show, and he said that the band was crumbling by then and Ozzy was losing interest, so it has clouded their judgement of the album. What they should do is listen to it and remaster it.

      • chad hallman says

        Tom, I agree with you on the remastering of NEVER SAY DIE. I would be curious of what that would sound like. And all the other ozzy era discs as well. But the other side of me says, I think they shouldn’t remaster any of the Ozzy era discs because that sound and production, etc. Is what made such a big impact on fans and inspired others to follow sabbath in their musical adventures.

        • I totally hear what you’re saying…good or bad, the production sound is a major part of those albums and it could be considered sacrilege to alter it in any way…but as long as there are still plenty of the original discs out there for new fans to be able to experience the original, classic versions, I think remasters of the Ozzy discs would be a real treat for longtime fans to experience them in a new light.

  20. TomOzzy123 says

    I bought Never Say Die in the early 1980’s, and I have always liked it. Every song is good on it; however, it sonically lacked some bottom end for radio play. I would love to see it remixed and remastered. What I liked the most about the album was the guitar solos Tony wrote–very melodic and tastey. Also, the band was very tight musically.

    • I agree 100% about the production. A great example of how too much studio enhancement/guitar effects/etc can cloud up the sound. Compare it to the production of the first album – raw, gritty, solid…if a new Sabbath album can’t happen because of Iommi’s health and/or Bill’s inclusion, Rick Rubin should remaster NSD as well as the latter half of the Ozzy-era albums..his gritty balls-out approach could lend a well needed and deserved breath of fresh air to some forgotten classics.

  21. Never Say Die rules ! Has been my favorite since I bought it in ’78. I love all the Sabbath classics as well,but honestly I would shed no tears if Iron Man and Paranoid were dropped from their set list.

  22. sabrecadabro says

    never say die is fabolous jazz rock sabbath way , i first heard black sab ozzy by enjoying never say die album n the cover was awesome too

  23. sabrecadabro says

    n yep bill ward is the best drummer in the world

  24. Monte Self says

    impatiently waiting some new news ! suspense is killing me Joe ! lol

  25. Even if the original sabbath members never get back together again I hope Iommi can defeat this horrible disease.

  26. NSD is imo a better album than Vol 4, Black Sabbath,Technical Ecstasy and Sabotage. Johnny Blade, Juniors Eyes, Shockwave and Air Dance are awesome tracks.

  27. NEVER SAY DIE will always remind me of the years I saw Led Zeppelin, Floyd and Sabbath in NYC at MSG, in the 70’s. It was the album of the end of an era,later that year became involved more with ‘Punk’ and the lower east side ‘CBGB’ music scene. These decades later, I find how lucky I was to have survived and healthy.. Hey, I was ‘Johnny Blade’ all those years ago. I hope the ‘boys’ give it one last run. :)

  28. mike clifton says

    I wonder if anything is happening in the sabbath camp. This Bill Ward tribute to Iommi is the newest post and it’s nearly a month old.

Speak Your Mind


For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.