Bill Ward (musician)

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Bill Ward
Bill Ward (1973) (cropped).JPG
Bill Ward in 1973
Background information
Birth nameWilliam Thomas Ward
Born (1948-05-05) 5 May 1948 (age 71)
Aston, Birmingham, England
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Musician
  • songwriter
Instruments Drums
Years active1966–1984, 1989–present
Labels Capitol
Associated acts
Website www.billward.com

William Thomas Ward (born 5 May 1948) is an English musician and visual artist, best known as the original drummer of the British heavy metal band Black Sabbath. He also performed lead vocals on two Black Sabbath songs: "It's Alright" [1] from the album Technical Ecstasy and "Swinging the Chain" [1] from the album Never Say Die! .

Drum kit collection of drums and other percussion instruments

A drum kit — also called a drum set, trap set, or simply drums — is a collection of drums and other percussion instruments, typically cymbals, which are set up on stands to be played by a single player, with drumsticks held in both hands, and the feet operating pedals that control the hi-hat cymbal and the beater for the bass drum. A drum kit consists of a mix of drums and idiophones – most significantly cymbals, but can also include the woodblock and cowbell. In the 2000s, some kits also include electronic instruments. Also, both hybrid and entirely electronic kits are used.

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

Black Sabbath British heavy metal band

Black Sabbath were an English rock band, formed in Birmingham in 1968, by guitarist and main songwriter Tony Iommi, drummer Bill Ward, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler and singer Ozzy Osbourne. Black Sabbath are often cited as pioneers of heavy metal music. The band helped define the genre with releases such as Black Sabbath (1970), Paranoid (1970), and Master of Reality (1971). The band had multiple line-up changes, with Iommi being the only constant member throughout its history.

Contents

Biography

Early years and Black Sabbath

Bill Ward started to play drums as a child, listening to the big bands of the 1940s and his major influences were Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich and Louie Bellson. [2] Later he was influenced by drummers such as Larrie Londin, Bernard Purdie, Joe Morello, Keef Hartley, Hughie Flint, John Bonham, Ringo Starr, Jim Capaldi and Clive Bunker. [3] In the mid-1960s Ward sang and played drums in a band called The Rest. [4] Ward and guitarist Tony Iommi played together in a band called Mythology, [5] and upon that band's dissolution joined vocalist Ozzy Osbourne and bassist Geezer Butler, who had played together in a band called Rare Breed. [6] The new band called themselves Earth, but were soon renamed Black Sabbath.

Big band music ensemble associated with jazz and Swing Era music

A big band is a type of musical ensemble that usually consists of ten or more musicians with four sections: saxophones, trumpets, trombones, and a rhythm section. Big bands originated during the early 1910s and dominated jazz in the early 1940s when swing was most popular. The term "big band" is also used to describe a genre of music. One problem with this usage is that it overlooks the variety of music played by these bands.

Gene Krupa drummer, composer, bandleader

Eugene Bertram Krupa was an American jazz drummer, band leader, actor, and composer known for his energetic style and showmanship. His drum solo on "Sing, Sing, Sing" (1937) elevated the role of the drummer as a frequently used solo voice in the band.

Buddy Rich Jazz drummer and bandleader

Bernard "Buddy" Rich was an American jazz drummer and bandleader. He is considered one of the most influential drummers of all time and was known for his virtuoso technique, power, and speed. He performed with Tommy Dorsey, Harry James and Count Basie, and led a big band.

Bill Ward in 1970 Black Sabbath (1970) (cropped).jpg
Bill Ward in 1970

Ward's drug and alcohol use increased throughout Black Sabbath's heyday. By the late 1970s he was drinking during gigs, something he had never done before. [4] He also began experiencing panic attacks. [4] Ward has said he cannot remember the recording of the 1980 album Heaven and Hell due to his alcohol abuse. [7] According to Black Sabbath bandmate Iommi, Ward disappeared on 21 August 1980, without saying goodbye, other than a telephone call to then-Black Sabbath vocalist Ronnie James Dio informing him "I'm off then, Ron." [8] He then briefly played in a band called Max Havoc. [5] He sat out one album (1981's Mob Rules ) before returning to Black Sabbath for 1983's Born Again album. Ward once again left for health reasons before the band toured in support of Born Again. He again rejoined Black Sabbath in 1984 to record new material with David Donato but after several demo tapes, he once again left Sabbath [9] .

Gig (music) musical engagement

Gig is slang for a live musical performance. Originally coined in the 1920s by jazz musicians, the term, short for the word "engagement", now refers to any aspect of performing such as assisting with performance and attending musical performance. More broadly, the term "gigging" means having paid work, being employed.

Panic attack period of intense fear of sudden onset

Panic attacks are sudden periods of intense fear that may include palpitations, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, numbness, or a feeling that something bad is going to happen. The maximum degree of symptoms occurs within minutes. Typically they last for about 30 minutes but the duration can vary from seconds to hours. There may be a fear of losing control or chest pain. Panic attacks themselves are not typically dangerous physically.

<i>Heaven and Hell</i> (Black Sabbath album) 1980 studio album by Black Sabbath

Heaven and Hell is the ninth studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, released on 25 April 1980. It is the first Black Sabbath album to feature vocalist Ronnie James Dio, who replaced original vocalist Ozzy Osbourne in 1979.

Pranks

According to Tony Iommi, he and the band would often set Ward's beard on fire and perform other harmful pranks on him. On one occasion, Ward even received third-degree burns. [10] In an interview with Guitar World, Tony described it as follows:

Tony Iommi British guitarist

Anthony Frank Iommi is an English guitarist, songwriter and producer. He was lead guitarist and one of the four founder members of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath. He was the band's primary composer and sole continual member for nearly five decades.

Bill and I were in the studio rehearsing one day and out of the blue I asked him, "May I set you on fire, Bill?" And he said, "Well, not now, not now." And then I forgot about it. Later on when the day ended, he said to me, "Well, I'm going home now; you still want to set me on fire or what?" And I said, "Sure." So I took a small can of lighter fluid and sprayed it on him, lit a match, and whoomph. He was wearing these polyester pants so they burned really quickly and he was on the floor screaming and crying. I could not help him because I was so busy laughing. It actually turned out to be quite serious. I felt really bad for him. He was sent to the hospital. Later on, his mother called me on the phone and said, "You barmy bastard, it's about time you grew up. Our Bill is going to have his leg off." But things like that always happened to Bill.

Iommi claims that Ward almost died after a prank-gone-wrong during recording of Black Sabbath Vol. 4 in 1972. [4] The band were renting a Bel Air mansion belonging to John DuPont of the DuPont chemical company. The band found several spray cans of gold DuPont paint in a room of the house; finding Ward naked and unconscious after a night of heavy drinking, they thought it would be funny to cover the drummer from head to toe in gold paint. [4] Ward soon became violently ill and had a seizure and an ambulance had to be called. The paint had blocked all of Ward's pores, which his bandmates were subsequently informed can be fatal. [4]

<i>Vol. 4</i> (Black Sabbath album) 1972 studio album by Black Sabbath

Vol. 4 is the fourth studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, released in September 1972. It was the first album by Black Sabbath not produced by Rodger Bain; guitarist Tony Iommi assumed production duties. Patrick Meehan, the band's then-manager, was listed as co-producer, though his actual involvement in the album's production was minimal.

Bel Air, Los Angeles Neighborhood of Los Angeles in California, United States of America

Bel Air is a neighborhood on the Westside of Los Angeles, California, in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains. Founded in 1923, it is the home of The Hannah Carter Japanese Garden and the American Jewish University.

E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, commonly referred to as DuPont, is an American conglomerate that was founded in July 1802 in Wilmington, Delaware, as a gunpowder mill by French-American chemist and industrialist Éleuthère Irénée du Pont.

During the recording of Heaven and Hell in 1980, Iommi doused Ward with a solution used by studio technicians to clean the tape heads. [4] He then set light to the solution, which was much more flammable than Iommi had anticipated. [4] Ward suffered third degree burns as a result and still has scars on his legs from the incident. [4]

Solo career

After a few years in hiatus, Ward decided to return to playing music in the late 1980s. In 1989 he went to work on a solo album, which featured a huge array of guest musicians, including former Black Sabbath bandmate Ozzy Osbourne and his guitarist, Zakk Wylde. Released in January 1990, Ward One: Along the Way showcased Ward's versatility in musical tastes and abilities; he even sang vocals on some of the songs. It would be seven years before he released his second solo album, When the Bough Breaks , in 1997.

In 2002 he released the song "Straws" as a single for charity. The song would reappear on his 2015 album Accountable Beasts .

Later career

Bill Ward, onstage with Black Sabbath in Stuttgart, Germany in 1999 Bill Ward.jpg
Bill Ward, onstage with Black Sabbath in Stuttgart, Germany in 1999

Before the full Black Sabbath reunion, Ward and the original Sabbath had reunited twice for short sets, first for Live Aid in 1985 and then at a Costa Mesa, California Ozzy Osbourne show on 15 November 1992. Sabbath, with Judas Priest singer Rob Halford replacing Ronnie James Dio who had recently left the band, opened the show for Osbourne. The Ozzy Osbourne band (Osbourne, Zakk Wylde, Mike Inez, Randy Castillo and John Sinclair) then did a full set before Osbourne was reunited with Iommi, Butler and Ward for four numbers.

Ward made a brief return to the band for a South American tour in 1994 with Tony Martin fronting, before finally rejoining the band for the two shows at the Birmingham NEC, England on 4 and 5 December 1997, which made up the Reunion album. When what was billed as the original line-up reunited for the Ozzfest tour in 1997, Mike Bordin played drums. Ward then had to skip all but the last two band appearances in 1998 while he recovered from a heart attack suffered during the tour rehearsals that May. As the band rehearsed, Ward stopped and asked if he could lie down for a spell. He then asked for his assistant and informed the band that his arm had gone numb. Iommi and Butler then left for a short time, not knowing that Ward had actually suffered a heart attack. Outside, they saw an ambulance pass but weren't aware what was happening. Upon returning to the rehearsal space a frantic Ozzy Osbourne informed them "Bill has had a heart attack! Bill has had a heart attack!" [4] As was the case in 1980, he was replaced at short notice by Vinny Appice, although this time it was always intended to be a temporary absence for Ward, health permitting.

Since mid-2002, Ward has done a monthly internet-only radio show named Rock 50 on radio station WPMD from Cerritos College in California. Ward plays a variety of metal, hard rock, and some classic rock. [11]

Brief reunion with Black Sabbath

In October 2006, news leaked that Ward would be reuniting with Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Ronnie James Dio for a tour though under the moniker Heaven & Hell. However, Ward later decided not to participate in the tour or continue participation in the band because of musical differences with "a couple of the other bandmembers" and a reported concern about extended touring. [12] [13]

On 11 November 2011, Iommi, Butler, Osbourne, and Ward announced that they were reuniting to record a new album with producer Rick Rubin and to start touring in 2012. [14] In February 2012, however, Ward left before work commenced on 13 , the first studio recording to include original band members Iommi, Osbourne and Butler since the live album Reunion (1998), which contained two new studio tracks. Ward said that he had failed to reach an agreement regarding his contract. [15] [16] [17] [18] However, he did later admit that his weight would have been an issue in a 2013 tour. [19] Osbourne also suggested in an open letter that Ward's decision not to take part was down to his health. In April 2015, Ward criticised Osbourne on his Facebook fan page via a letter to his and the band's fans. [20] Which prompted a rebuttal from Osbourne on his Facebook page [21] :

Bill, stop this smokescreen about an "unsignable contract" and let's be honest. Deep down inside you knew you weren't capable of doing the album and a 16 month tour. Unfortunately for you, our instincts were correct as you were in hospital several times during 2013. Your last hospitalization was for a shoulder surgery that you now say you've only just recovered from. This would have meant that our world tour would have been canceled. So how is all of this my fault? Stop playing the victim and be honest with yourself and our fans. [21]

Ward's surgery on his shoulder prevented him from playing drums again until May 2014, [22] delaying his third studio album Accountable Beasts. [23] He had also expressed a desire to tour behind the album once it is released, provided that sales were acceptable. [24]

Ward says he has "lost a friend" in Osbourne, but maintains contact with Butler and Iommi; if they could "come to some terms", if Ozzy would make amends for statements he made in 2012 and 2013, he would rejoin Black Sabbath. [25]

Ward reunited with Sabbath members Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler to accept the "Lifetime Achievement" award at the May 2015 Ivor Novello Awards. [26]

In 2016, Ward debuted with a new band called "Day of Errors", which played its first gig in June that year at Gaslamp in Long Beach, California and also features Joe Amodea on guitar/vocals and Kill Devil Hill singer Jason “Dewey” Bragg on vocals.

Ward was due to play a string of dates with his new band in December 2017 but had to cancel these when he was hospitalised with heart problems in November. [27]

He once again reunited with Iommi and Butler in Los Angeles in May 2019, as Black Sabbath were awarded a Lifetime Achievement Grammy. Though Sabbath did not perform, Rival Sons performed a set of their songs for the occasion. [28] A short time later Osbourne said in a interview that he wants to play one last Sabbath show with Ward [29] .

Personal life

Ward has two sons, Nigel and Aron, and one daughter, Emily.

According to his Black Sabbath bandmates Tony Iommi and Ozzy Osbourne, Ward has dramatically changed his lifestyle since Black Sabbath's 1970s and early 80s heyday. Iommi says he quit smoking, gave up alcohol, adopted a vegan diet, and no longer uses drugs of any kind. [4] Osbourne says that Ward has been sober for approximately 30 years. [30] However, more recently Osbourne has criticised Ward's health, describing him in 2013 as "incredibly overweight" and suggesting that he would have been unable to drum for Black Sabbath had he stayed in the band following their 2011 reunion, given his physical condition, although Ward himself has insisted his health has not affected his ability to play the drums. [31]

Ward later admitted he underwent gastrointestinal surgery in 2013, and is still recovering. "My health right now is not bad but it's not good enough to certainly play in any band never mind Black Sabbath." [25]

Influence

Drumming website Totaldrumsets has listed Ward among "The 100 Most Influential Drummers Ever!" and has defined him "the mastermind behind the unholy birth of heavy metal drumming". [32]

Equipment

Ward uses Tama drums, Sabian cymbals, Vic Firth drumsticks and Gibraltar hardware. [33]

Tama Imperialstar drums

  1. 15"x13" Tom
  2. 16"x16" Floor Tom
  3. 18"x16" Floor Tom
  4. 14"x8" Snare Drum
  5. 14"x5" Snare Drum
  6. 26"x14" Bass Drum
  7. 26"x14" Bass Drum
  8. 20"x14" Gong Drum

AA and Hand Hammered Sabian cymbals

  1. 14" AA Rock Hats
  2. 10" AA Mini Hats
  3. 20" AA Medium Crash
  4. 29" AA China (custom)
  5. 22" Hand Hammered Raw Bell Dry Ride
  6. 14" Hand Hammered Sizzle Hats
  7. 22" Hand Hammered Medium Crash
  8. 14" Hand Hammered Mini China
  9. 22" Hand Hammered Power Ride
  10. 21" Hand Hammered Medium Crash

Discography

1970s

1980s

1990s

2000s

2010s

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References

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