Artist News

Black Sabbath reunion may falter as drummer says contract “unsignable”

By | Published on Friday 3 February 2012

Black Sabbath

The city of Birmingham may be working out how to celebrate the reunion of the original Black Sabbath line-up for a Download headline set this summer, but don’t assume that reformation is 100% set in stone just yet. Drummer Bill Ward says he may as yet pull out, because he is still to agree terms with whoever it is drummers agree terms with over things like this.

The US-based Ward will have to relocate to the UK for the reunion, after it was decided to work on a new album over here so that guitarist Tony Iommi could concurrently receive treatment for cancer. Ward says he is happy to make that move, but not while contractual issues remain unresolved.

In a letter to the band’s fans posted on his website, Ward wrote: “At this time, I would love nothing more than to be able to proceed with the Black Sabbath album and tour. However, I am unable to continue unless a ‘signable’ contract is drawn up; a contract that reflects some dignity and respect toward me as an original member of the band. Last year, I worked diligently in good faith with Tony, Ozzy and Geezer. And on 11/11/11, again in good faith, I participated in the LA press conference. Several days ago, after nearly a year of trying to negotiate, another ‘unsignable’ contract was handed to me”.

He continued: “Let me say that although this has put me in some kind of holding pattern, I am packed and ready to leave the US for England. More importantly, I definitely want to play on the album, and I definitely want to tour with Black Sabbath. Since the news of Tony’s illness, and the understanding that the band would move production to the UK, I’ve spent every day getting to or living in a place of readiness to leave”.

He went on: “That involves something of a task, and as I’ve tried to find out what’s going on with the UK sessions, I’ve realised that I’ve been getting ‘the cold shoulder’ (and, I might add, not for the first time). Feeling somewhat ostracised, my guess is as of today, I will know nothing of what’s happening unless I sign ‘the unsignable contract’. The place I’m in feels lousy and lonely because as much as I want to play and participate, I also have to stand for something and not sign on. If I sign as-is, I stand to lose my rights, dignity and respectability as a rock musician”.

Insisting he wasn’t making unreasonable financial demands in his negotiations, he concluded: “I’m not holding out for a ‘big piece’ of the action (money) like some kind of blackmail deal. I’d like something that recognises and is reflective of my contributions to the band, including the reunions that started fourteen years ago. After the last tour I vowed to never again sign on to an unreasonable contract. I want a contract that shows some respect to me and my family, a contract that will honour all that I’ve brought to Black Sabbath since its beginning”.

The rest of the band and their management are yet to respond to Ward’s letter.