Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi speaks out about negotiations with Bill Ward

Guitarist says talks came to an end after he was diagnosed with cancer

Black Sabbath‘s Tony Iommi ended reunion negotiations with the band’s original drummer Bill Ward after being diagnosed with cancer, the guitarist has told Guitar World.

Iommi received his diagnosis shortly after the band announced plans to make their first record with Ozzy Osbourne since 1978 and ended talks with Ward. The drummer has stated he hadn’t been offered a contract he considered “signable”.

In the interview, Iommi said: “Once I heard ‘cancerous lymphoma’, I thought ‘That’s it. I’ve had it’.” He continued: “We waited a long time for Bill and we wanted to sort it out. But at the end of the day, especially after I was diagnosed, I thought ‘Fucking hell, that’s it – we’ve got to get a move on. I might pop off next year!’ So I emailed him and said ‘Bill, we can’t wait any longer. We’ve got to get a move on with it’. And that was it.”

Iommi recently stated it was Osbourne who persuaded him to see a specialist, which led to him discovering the cancer in time to receive treatment. Osbourne commented about the guitarist: “He was a soldier and marched on – he still had more riffs coming out of him than anyone. We all rallied around him, but it’s not like we’d be saying ‘Are you OK, are you OK?'”

Bassist Geezer Butler has also spoken out about the effect the news had on the band, saying: “It brought up how we’re all mortal beings and we aren’t here for ever. Tony and I were on the Heaven and Hell tour with Ronnie [James Dio, Black Sabbath’s vocalist after Osbourne] – and six months later Ronnie was dead. When Tony got the cancer, obviously that was in his mind…So it was like, let’s get the album done at all costs, as long as Tony’s up to it. It didn’t affect his playing at all – in fact, I think it really encouraged him to keep his mind off the cancer, which is the best thing you can possibly do.”

Black Sabbath release their new album ’13’ on June 10. The band go on a UK tour in December. They play:

London O2 Arena (December 10)
Belfast Odyssey Arena (12)
Sheffield Arena (14)
Glasgow Hydro (16)
Manchester Arena (18)
Birmingham LG Arena (20)