Bill Ward On The Birth of Black Sabbath: “We Were Different”

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Original Black Sabbath skinner, Bill Ward, is looking back on the earliest days of the game-changing rock legends. Speaking with Metal Hammer magazine, the former drummer recalls how The Beatles threw a match onto the dry, British music scene, paving the way for future bands to find their beat.

The Beatles were so damn good that a lot of us tried to emulate that,” Bill admits to Hammer’s Rich Hobson. “I can remember The Beatles releasing [debut single] Love Me Do around 1962 and then soon after we had Johnny Neal and The Starliners, real rock ’n’ rollers influenced by the music of the ’50s. It was the wave of Liverpool bands that came along that kicked everybody’s ass, and all the big cities had to adapt and make their own scene.”

Following the break-up of their blues rock band, Mythology, Bill Ward and guitarist, Tony Iommi, were seeking a new gig. Initially forming as the Polka Tulk Blues Band in ’68, the pair were joined in their new group by vocalist John ‘Ozzy’ Osbourne, and bassist Terence ‘Geezer’ Butler. Ozzy and Geezer had played together in Birmingham’s Rare Breed and from the outset, Ward says, Sabbath felt like a break from the past.

When we finished Black Sabbath rehearsals at the Aston community centre,” Bill recalls. “I had feelings inside telling me a few things; we were different, and it didn’t matter if we became famous. I knew what we’d made would cause a few problems, but also earn us great affection and I’m so f****** proud of that.”

Black Sabbath were so tight, we’d have the same dreams,” Bill continued. “It happens when you’re in a room transferring things to each other musically all day, so we’d end up having similar dreams. One of the dreams we had was being visited by a priest, or a spectre, and I just saw that as a guardian angel. I love ghosts – I’m a ghost person and have been most of my life.”

Despite not appearing on Sabbath’s final album, 13, or on the group’s final world tour, the former drummer claims to be “at peace” with his old friends. Speaking to Hobson, Bill reveals that he still loves the “you-know-what out of those guys!

I’ve come through the angry bits that happened in 2012 and arrived in a place of being at peace with myself and with them,” Bill explains. I’m glad we did what we did, and often go down memory lane with the early work we did in Copenhagen and the Reeperbahn in Hamburg. I love those guys and all the imperfections that go with that. It’s a great feeling, having come as far as we have, and I’m happy just being able to write or talk to them if I want to.”

Bill recently opened up on his retirement from the band and said he feels he no longer possesses the “chops” nor the “ability” to perform with Black Sabbath. Although the former drummer said he would not be up to the task, should they ever play live again, he still drops hints of his willingness to make a new Sabbath album every other week.