Geezer Butler Respected Bill Ward’s Refusal of Part-Time Offer
Written by on June 5, 2023
Geezer Butler said he supported Bill Ward’s refusal to take a part-time role with Black Sabbath on their final tour. The band’s farewell era – which was announced in 2011 and culminated in the album 13 and two final shows in their hometown of Birmingham, England, in 2017 – was marred by a public shouting match between Ward and his former bandmates, after he said he wasn’t offered a contract he regarded as “signable.”
The disagreement was never resolved and Sabbath continued with Ozzy Osbourne’s drummer Tommy Clufetos in Ward’s place.
In a recent interview with Houston Press, Butler said he had no information about the details of the contract, but he confirmed there have been doubts that Ward was fit enough to deliver a full-length world tour. “We asked him if he’d do two or three songs a show or whatever he felt comfortable doing,” the bassist said. “And he said he’d do the whole show or nothing at all. And I totally respect that. If they told me to do two or three songs on bass and go away, I’d have told them where to go! … All I know is Bill was in the band, then me and my wife went to Hawaii for a week, and when we got back, Bill wasn’t in the band anymore.”
The subject is discussed in Butler’s upcoming memoir, Into the Void, which is published on June 6. But he revealed the book is a shorter read than he had originally planned, noting that “the original book was about 500 pages long … when we sent it to the publisher, they said ‘Oh, you can’t say that!’ And I said, ‘I was in Black Sabbath – not the Osmonds!’ But unless you can prove something happened with letters or whatever, it couldn’t go in the book. They were afraid of getting sued!”
He also touched on his relationship with Osbourne’s original replacement, Ronnie James Dio, who had clashes with the Sabbath organization over the years until their differences were settled and a reunion took place, just before his death from cancer in 2010. “Ronnie and I had our ups and downs in the band,” Butler said. “But outside of the business and outside of music, Ronnie and [wife] Wendy were really good friends of ours.” He said in Dio’s final years that the singer was “really scared. Up until that time, he thought it was just a stomachache. And when he got diagnosed, the best place in America to go for cancer treatment was Houston. I’m really glad that we went with him and checked him in.”
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