Bill Ward Drummed Out Of Sabbath? Depends How You Look At It

He was asked to play Ozzfest, but he says the offer was too restrictive.

Fans weren't the only ones surprised by Tuesday's news that Black Sabbath will be headlining Ozzfest 2004 without founding member Bill Ward. The band's original drummer found out that he had been replaced by Mike Bordin at the same time as everyone else.

"This morning, I received the very sad news that Mike Bordin is to play drums with Black Sabbath on Ozzfest '04," began a letter addressed to "Sabbath People" posted on Ward's Web site Tuesday.

It's not that Ward wasn't asked to participate; he was and he declined the invitation. His motive for posting the letter was to provide fans some explanation as to why he won't be joining his old bandmates Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi this summer (see "Surprise! Black Sabbath On Board For Ozzfest After All").

"Last week I did receive a proposal which allowed no room for negotiation," Ward wrote. "It was a cul-de-sac proposal, in my opinion, where the only answer was yes or no."

His deadline to accept the invitation was Friday, the same day that Ozzfest.com had promised a "big announcement" (see "It's Still Lack Sabbath For Ozzfest"), so Ward regretfully declined the opportunity on Thursday. In his online letter, Ward said that in his response to the Ozzfest camp he refrained from stating that he was willing to "be flexible," "negotiate" or "compromise" and simply "answered the proposal directly."

Ward may have been hoping Ozzfest organizers would show some flexibility or compromise on their end. Instead, four days later they publicized Bordin's participation in the group.

"I want you to know that I'm not being the bad guy here," Ward wrote. "I'm not trying to hold anyone ransom. And I'm not trying to reverse my decision to decline in hope of a positive managerial response to this letter.

"I'm ready, willing and able to rock," he continued, dismissing speculation that his health was an issue because of a 1998 heart attack. "There are some details on the proposal that don't work for me."

A spokesperson for Ozzfest had no comment on Ward's letter.