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Ozzy Osbourne: "Incredibly Overweight" Bill Ward Is Incapable of Playing with Black Sabbath

Before Black Sabbath's show at New Jersey's PNC Bank Arts Center this past weekend, Ozzy Osbourne chewed the fat with the New York Daily News.

The topic? Why original Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward isn't filling the stool now occupied by touring drummer Tommy Clufetos.

“I don’t think he could have done the gig, to be honest. He’s incredibly overweight," Osbourne said. "A drummer has to be in shape. He’s already had two heart attacks. I don’t want to be responsible for his life.”

According to, Osbourne had some negative opinions about Ward's performance at Sabbath's initial rehearsals for 13, the band's new album. "We looked at Bill, and he couldn’t remember what the fuck we were doing. He didn’t come clean and say, ‘I can’t cut this gig, but can we work something out, guys, where I’ll come on but with another drummer backing me up?’ Or, ‘I’ll come and play a few songs.’ That would have been cool."

In another interview last month, Ward said, "I was offered a contact and I couldn’t sign it. I would never, ever show up for a commitment that I could not do physically. It was one of the toughest decisions that I ever had to make. Because I absolutely and without question wanted to play."

"I’m the drummer in Black Sabbath so I want to do the entire show," he added. "I play all or nothing."

Ward left Sabbath in 1980 to get help with his drinking and played with them on and off throughout the next two decades. He was replaced in 1997 (He said he found out by watching MTV). The band eventually let him back in — until they called it quits in 2005.

Ward and the band have been at odds since right after Sabbath announced they were reforming in late 2011; he wrote a 1,500-word letter about why he wouldn't participate in the reunion, and the band responded with a 45-word reply:

"We have decided not to make any detailed comment on Bill's latest statement. There are two sides to every story. We have been working hard at rehearsals making excellent progress after Tony's treatments and we have engaged a substitute drummer for the forthcoming shows. See you at Download."

–Black Sabbath, 5/17/12

Damian Fanelli

Damian is editor-in-chief of Guitar World magazine. From 1998 to 2014, he was one third of Mister Neutron, an instrumental rock act that toured the universe and elsewhere and released three albums via Austin-based Deep Eddy Records. These days he performs with several New York City-area bands and can often be spotted with one of his many, many, many B-bender-equipped guitars. In past lives he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor – and he still can’t believe he got to write the liner notes for the latest SRV box set.