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Tony Iommi: It Was ‘Too Risky’ to Have Bill Ward on Black Sabbath Tour

Bill Ward and Tony Iommi
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi sat down for a question and answer session in London recently to discuss the band’s upcoming Ten Year War box set. During the conversation, which can be viewed below, he addressed the absence of drummer Bill Ward on the group’s final tour, which ended earlier this year with a hometown finale in Birmingham, England.

“It would have been nice to do these last shows with Bill, but it just didn’t happen,” Iommi says. “And it’s silly, really, because it was over nothing. Even if he’d have played a couple of shows, it would’ve been great.”

Ward refused to take part in the Sabs’ latest reunion, which kicked off in 2012, due to an “unsignable contract.” He was replaced by Tommy Clufetos, who also drums in frontman Ozzy Osbourne’s solo band. Iommi confirms it was originally intended for another drummer to be a part of the tour in case Ward, who has had health problems in recent years, wasn’t up to the task.

“I don’t think he quite realizes how hard it would have been on him,” the guitarist says. “So we wanted to bring another drummer just in case Bill ended up saying ‘I can’t do it’ for a couple of days or whatever. It’s too risky to go out and then have Bill say ‘I can’t do it’ and you have to cancel on 70,000 people or whatever it might be. It’s very hard, and it’s not fair on the fans and it’s not fair on him.”

Ward took park in the Ten Year War event, held at London’s studio-turned-guitar shop Regent Sound, via live feed for a few minutes before Iommi’s segment. At one point he talked about “Hand of Doom” being his favorite Black Sabbath song. “I wish I was still playing it,” the drummer says. “It’s part of who I am.”

Iommi, who is currently in remission from cancer, again stressed that the legendary group as a touring unit is finished, but discussed working on other projects, including the concert film Black Sabbath: The End of the End, which will hit theaters this fall for one night only before showing up on home video.

“The thing is I’m actually doing more now… I mean, I thought we were gonna come off tour and I’d stop and I’d put my feet up and, ‘That’s what I wanna do,’ but I haven’t had time,” Iommi says. “[We’ve been working on] the [forthcoming] DVD, and I [have been overseeing] the mixing for the DVD, of the music. Everybody else is sunning it up in L.A. But, you know, it’s what I do. It’s what I’ve always done. So I haven’t really had time to [think about what’s next]. I get offered a lot of stuff, and you can keep doing it forever, and I just wanna think about what I wanna do and take on different things that I really enjoy.”

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