When word first went out in November of 2011 that Black Sabbath was getting back together for its first studio album since 1978–and a worldwide tour to boot–hard-rock fans far and wide rejoiced.
But the shine came off the project later on when it was revealed that, due to financial squabbles, original Sabbath drummer Bill Ward—who you may remember from such classic drum beats as the ones on “War Pigs” from the 1970 Paranoid album—was not going to be part of either the album or the tour.
So on the one hand you had the hardcore Sabbath freaks who were just happy that guitarist Tony Iommi, singer Ozzy Osbourne, and bassist Geezer Butler were hooking up again, and on the other you had the hardcore Sabbath fans who felt it was not cool without Ward behind the kit.
I got to thinking about the Bill Ward controversy a bit more recently when I saw the latest Monster Magnet video, for the track “Mindless Ones” off its Lost Patrol album. At the 50-second mark you can clearly see that drummer Bob Pantella is sporting a “Bill Sabbath” t-shirt, which uses the famous BLACK SABBATH winged-demon logo above an image of the legendary skinbasher.
No other Sabbath members are in sight.
When I interviewed Monster Magnet frontman Dave Wyndorf last month, in advance of his band’s sold-out Vancouver concert, I asked him about the shirt. “I don’t know where he got it,” he replied, “but, yeah, he really loves that shirt.”
For his own part, Wyndorf believes it was sad that Ward wasn’t part of the Sabbath reunion—”It was like, ‘come on’, you know”—as he grew up with the original quartet’s earbusting sound.
“When I was a kid, Black Sabbath was like God to me,” he said. “There was nothing like them–there still isn’t anything like ‘em.”
That said, Sabbath’s decision to soldier on without Ward has definitely coloured Wyndorf’s current view of the metal legends, especially as regards its universally acclaimed reunion album, 13.
“I listened to it a coupla times,” he said. “Pretty cool; it’s alright. I kinda wish Bill Ward was there. I missed his drumming; I missed his style. It was kinda sad they didn’t stick with… at least if they’re not gonna have Bill they would have somebody do it in the style of Bill Ward. So I missed that.
“But it’s okay.”