Bill Ward: Black Sabbath inverted cross was a promotional ploy

Bill Ward
Bill Ward

Black Sabbath didn’t approve of the inverted cross used in the artwork for their debut album, according to former drummer Bill Ward.

Ward hints it may have been used as a “promotional ploy” by their label Vertigo and says though the band were “morbid” and “rebellious,” the Satanic symbol didn’t represent who they were.

In an archive interview from 2010, which has recently surfaced, Ward tells Banger TV: “The cover was something that was presented to us, and being our usual morbid selves, we were all instantaneously attracted to that.

“But the inside cover, none of us liked. We didn’t like it at all because it had an inverted cross in it.”

He adds: “I think there were some wise guys who deliberately put that together as a ploy – as an advertising, promotional ploy, or who had seriously misgauged us as a band. There was no collaboration so I don’t know who was responsible for it. I guess someone thought it would be a good idea and thought that was what we represented.”

Calling the artwork a “bad taste call,” he adds: “Ozzy Osbourne’s father had given us these crosses – the original Sabbath crosses, there was nothing upside-down about those.

“He gave us those as he believed in a higher power, he believed that the crosses might help us on our many journeys. He was concerned about making sure we were all safe and sound.”

Ward also reflects on Sabbath’s early years, saying they had “unusual interests” such as the supernatural, horror movies and classical music – but insists that they were never Satanic.

He continues: “I saw our band as a solid, hardcore rock band that was hard, interactive with the audience. I saw us as almost punk-ish.

“Satanic rock, I think that’s prevalent today, but it wasn’t a part of Sabbath. We went and covered many topics, but in the literal sense of being Satanic? No.”

Last year, bassist Geezer Butler said their critics regularly focused on the band’s name over their lyrics, adding: “People always like to find the evil in the music, so they’d quote the ‘pope on a rope’ part out of context, as usual.

“I think if we’d been called White Sunday we’d have had a totally different reaction.”

Ward ruled out a return to Black Sabbath on the last days of their The End tour earlier this month. He was originally to appear on their record 13 but bowed out in 2012, saying he hadn’t been offered a contract he regarded as “signable.”

That led to a war of words, with the strongest exchanges between Ward and frontman Ozzy Osbourne.

They’ll wrap up The End tour in their home city of Birmingham in February.

Black Sabbath The End tour dates 2016⁄2017

Aug 27: Uncasville Mohegan Sun Arena, CT
Aug 29: Toronto Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, ON
Aug 31: Detroit DTE Energy Music Theater, MI
Sep 02: Indianapolis Klipsch Music Center, IN
Sep 04: Chicago Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, IL
Sep 07: Dallas Gexa Energy Pavilion, TX
Sep 09: Albuquerque Isleta Ampitheater, NM
Sep 11: Salt Lake City USANA Ampitheater, UT
Sep 13: Portland Sunlight Supply Arena, OR
Sep 15: Oakland Oracle Arena, CA
Sep 17: Las Vegas MGM Grand Garden Arena, NV
Sep 19: Hollywood Hollywood Bowl, CA
Sep 21: Phoenix AK-Chin Pavilion, AZ
Sep 24: San Manuael Amphitheatre & Festival Grounds, CA
Nov 08: Oklahoma BOK Center, OK
Nov 10: Houston Toyota Center, TX
Nov 12: San Antonio AT&T Center, TX
Nov 16: Mexico City Foro Sol, Mexico
Nov 19: Santiago Estadio Nacional, Chile
Nov 24: Cordoba En El Orfeo Superdomo, Argentina
Nov 26: Buenos Aires Estadio Velez, Argentina
Nov 30: Curitiba Pedrerira Paulo Leminski, Brazil
Dec 02: Rio Praca Da Apoteose, Brazil
Dec 04: Sao Paulo Estadio Do Morumbi, Brazil
Jan 20: Dublin 3 Arena, Ireland
Jan 22: Manchester Arena, UK
Jan 24: Glasgow SSE Hydro, UK
Jan 26: Leeds First Direct Arena, UK
Jan 29: London O2, UK
Jan 31: London O2, UK
Feb 02: Birmingham Genting Arena, UK
Feb 04: Birmingham Genting Arena, UK

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Former TeamRock news desk member Christina joined our team in late 2015, and although her time working on online rock news was fairly brief, she made a huge impact by contributing close to 1500 stories. Christina also interviewed artists including Deftones frontman Chino Moreno and worked at the Download festival. In late 2016, Christina left rock journalism to pursue a career in current affairs. In 2021, she was named Local Weekly Feature Writer of the Year at the Scottish Press Awards.