Drum heroes week: Bill Ward on Black Sabbath by Black Sabbath

Bill Ward on Sabbath's rallying call

Black Sabbath s Black Sabbath
(Image: © Tony Frank/Sygma/Corbis)

Bill Ward may have sat out Black Sabbath' reunion tour and the recording of latest album 13, but Ward was an integral part of the Sabs classic sound. Here, Bill tells us all about the song that he describes as the band's rallying call.

How did that track come together?

"It started in Aston at the community centre, I think in 1968. Tony and Geezer had been playing around with some ideas of doom type riffs and they had been listening to some of the classic composers. We all had a taste of that. We went there to practise, we always practised at about 8.30 in the morning at the community centre. Tony had that lick and I felt instantly attracted to it. We played it pretty much as you hear it today."

Did it take long for your drum part to fall into place?

"I immediately picked up on the solemn-ness of the riff. It is really powerful when it is being played quiet, it's very haunting. The first place that I went to was the toms, it just seemed the most natural thing to happen. Of course Tony brings out that volume and we all went there at the same time, it was quite strange really, we all knew to go to the same place at the same time. It's when we go with the lick, there's such a feeling of solidarity and union. It seems like everything that sucks in our lives is coming out right there when we're playing that lick that loud."

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1t24PsZxohY

Did you realise how strong that track was at the time?

"That was a great example of absolute rawness and the beginning of what was a really tight band. In just a few notes we saw what could be accomplished in setting a mood and a tone. And that has lasted for many, many years now. When Ozzy started singing, 'What is this that stands before me?' I didn't quite know what we were actually doing. Musically it came like, 'Oh this is great, I can do some nice rolls,' and there were some jazzy fills in there that suited me, but when Oz sang we thought, 'Oh my god, what are we and what is going on?' I knew it was good and I knew it was different."

Why is it still such a special track to this day?

"That song is the rallying point and it always has been. It's always been the song that during any kind of bad times, when people were ill or whatever it might be, 'Black Sabbath' was the rallying point. There's a feeling that comes with that song and I had it every time we played 'Black Sabbath'.