Black Sabbath, the heaviest and darkest of heavy metal’s forefathers, excited fans around the world late last year, when they announced they’d be reuniting for a full-scale reunion tour. The Birmingham band, whose original lineup consisted of Ozzy Osborne, Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi and Bill Ward, also announced plans to put out their first album since 1978’s Never Say Die.
However as so often happens in the land of rock band break-ups and make-ups, the group’s plans have been steadily unraveling ever since.
First there was the debacle with Bill Ward. Ward, the band’s original drummer, dropped out of the tour in early 2012 citing contractual vagueness and claiming he was only offered the chance to join the band for three numbers onstage, while another drummer would be playing the rest of the set.
Then there was the announcement that guitarist Tony Iommi had contracted lymphoma and would be unable to play guitar for the band in an extended tour setting.
This double whammy of cancer and contractual disputes has led to many of the dates on the European leg of the Black Sabbath reunion tour being re-branded as Ozzy & Friends; with the singer and reality TV star fronting a band that includes Zakk Wylde, Slash, and the Sab’s very own Geezer Butler.
Sabbath did manage an appearance at this year’s Download Festival in the UK last week. And North American fans will still get one chance to see the (almost) reunited Sabbath in action, as they headline this year’s Lollapalooza Festival in Chicago, with Tommy Clufetos sitting in for the disgruntled Ward.
On the bright side, plans for the new album are apparently still underway. A recent report on Digital Spy states that Iommi has been working with Butler and Ozzy in the studio in between chemotherapy sessions. Now that’s what we call a guitar hero!