Bill Ward has recalled how he volunteered for the “shit job”of firing Ozzy Osbourne from Black Sabbath in 1979.
Matters had come to a head between the frontman and his colleagues after his drinking and drug-taking spiralled out of control – leading them to conclude that he had to go.
They didn’t reunite until 1997 and didn’t record again until 2013, by which time the drummer was out of the band after saying he hadn’t been offered a “signable” contract.
Ward tells The Quietus: “I’m like the fucking janitor in that band. Most of the time I always got the shit jobs that nobody wanted to do.
“But at the time, I thought maybe I was the best guy to do it. I kind of volunteered to do it. Up went my hand – and it was one of the worst things I’ve ever done in my life, to be honest with you.
“I didn’t want him to leave the band, but I could understand the reasons why. That was a tragic day. That was the day the band imploded.”
Ward has also recalled the nervy first encounter between the pair around a decade earlier. He says: “When I first met Ozzy, his appearance was a little bit different. I had really long hair, Geezer had really long hair and so did Tony – but Oz was a skinhead.
“Back then there was always trouble between long-haired people and skinheads and lot of people got hurt. I thought, ‘This isn’t going to work.’
“But we went and we jammed and out came this incredible voice. When Oz sang I thought, ‘Oh my God.’ What attracted me to him wasn’t his appearance but his voice. I thought, ‘We’ve really got something here.’”
Ward is embroiled in a war of words with Osbourne that’s keeping him away from the band. But despite the fragile state of their relationship, the drummer says he still loves the vocalist. “Oz was like a brother. He still is today but I don’t talk to him right now. It’s not like I don’t love him or anything.”
Osbourne said recently that Sabbath would go on a farewell tour in 2016, but Butler later said he had “no idea” if it would happen.