After months of speculation, the world now knows why the Black Sabbath reunion was absent one of its four original members, drummer Bill Ward. Guitarist Tony Iommi says he cut off the talks but not over money or arguments. It was because he felt he was short on time.
Iommi was diagnosed with cancer in 2012, just after the reunion was announced. As negotiations dragged out between the band and Ward, Tony says he was worried that his time would run out before the band could accomplish anything.
Tony tells Guitar World, “Once I heard ‘cancerous lymphoma,’ I thought, ‘That’s it. I’ve had it.’ 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, 'F****** hell, that's it. we've got to get a move on. I might pop off next year!' I emailed him and said, ‘Bill, we can’t wait any longer. We’ve got to get on with it.’ And that was it.”
Bassist Geezer Butler adds his support for Iommi working through his illness. “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) – 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 and follow with a world tour. Rage Against The Machine’s Brad Wilk plays drums.