Last November saw the long-awaited reunion of the classic lineup of Black Sabbath – well, three-quarters of the original lineup to be more precise, with the controversy surrounding drummer Bill Ward’s non-inclusion continuing to unravel, but there’s still some great news for Australian fans of the heavy metal forefathers.
Triple M recently spoke to Ozzy Osbourne’s wife and manager, Sharon Osbourne, who confirmed that the band would “definitely” be appearing in Australia early next year, following the completion of recording their new album.
Appearing on Merrick and the Highway Patrol, Mrs. Bat-head-biter was asked what her husband and the Black Sabbath boys were up to, and whether we could expect to see them down under anytime soon. “Of course you are,” was her reply “[Black Sabbath] is in the studio right now with Rick Rubin recording. And they are going to be touring here in the Spring of next year. Definitely.”
It’s the latest surprise in the Black Sabbath reunion trail, which has seen its fair share of ups and downs since confirming the long-awaited rumours of the reunion of the original lineup in nearly 33 years. By January however, fans were shocked to learn that guitarist Tony Iommi had experienced complications in his ongoing battle with lymphoma.
His intensive treatment of chemotherapy and radiotherapy forced the newly reunited Sabbath to axe all shows from their world tour, save for their homecoming show in their native Birmingham, as well as their triumphant headline slot at UK’s Download festival last month and an upcoming Lollapalooza appearance.
It wasn’t the first – or even biggest – controversy facing the newly reunited band, with original drummer Bill Ward saying that he would be sitting out until a contract would be written up that was “signable”. The 63-year-old sticksman making his thoughts public with an open letter published on his personal website, saying he couldn’t proceed until a contract that “reflects some dignity and respect toward me as an original member of the band” is drawn up.
A move that baffled many, particularly former vocalist Tony Martin (who fronted the band from 1987-97 while Iommi was running the show), who remarked in July that the whole reunion saga, including the relationship collapse between Ward and his former bandmates smacked of being a publicity stunt.
Meanwhile, Ward’s spot was filled by Tommy Clufetos, whose previous skin-thumping duties included drumming for Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent and Sabbath’s own Ozzy Osbourne. The vocalist commenting at the time of Ward’s departure and refusal that “there was no row, there was no argument.”
Though admitting that he had not spoken directly to Ward, communicating only through legal representatives, he added that the group were not averse to having Ward back. “The door ain’t closed, whether we work something out up the road, I don’t know,” said the frontman.
“It’s not a personal thing,” added Iommi. “If he phoned us up tomorrow, which he hasn’t, but if he did…”
In response, last week NME reports that of the comeback shows, Ward has said that he wants to be a part of it again. ”If there is some longevity with Black Sabbath, then I’d like to be part of it.”
Adding that, “I wanna play hard rock music. I wanna play loud drums. I love playing with Terry ['Geezer' Butler, bass]. I love playing with Oz… and I love playing with Tony [Iommi, guitar]. When Tony opens up with huge chords man, I still get the same shiver up my back than I did when we were 18 year-old kids.”
Whether the band will be able to salve their separation in time for an Australian tour is up in the air, as is Sharon Osbourne’s confirmation of the band making world tour plans when Iommi’s battle with cancer put the kibosh on them already. Still, if there’s anyone that knows better what the members of Black Sabbath are up to – it’s definitely her.
After all, anyone who can deal with the hellish task of managing and organising Ozzy Osbourne certainly knows how to get things done.
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