Let's discuss Bill Ward

Browny

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What are your thoughts on who played on the Born Again album? It was after Dio but doesn't sound like Vinnie and to my ears doesn't really sound like Bill Ward.
When I saw the Born Again tour Bev Bevan was playing - thoughts??
Born Again was Bill Ward, returning after a single record sabbatical.

In my mind, Sabbath finished after Never Say Die. Like The Bealtes or Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath could only really exist with all four original members. They got close with Heaven & Hell, Born Again, and 13, but it's hardly a Sabbath record if you haven't got Ozzy & Ward there alongside Geezer & Tommy (Let alone Tommy by himself...)

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I'm on the edge of an intense study of Sabbath and Ward's incredible drumming. I have a few of their albums on vinyl. The thing I recall back when I was in high school was my friend, also a drummer was a huge fan, I was lukewarm to them, more into Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin by far. I think some of the "evilness" of the lyrics was a slight turn off to me, and its funny because when one really listens to the lyrics they're not evil at all, more about the human condition.

Any who, another thing I totally remember and acknowledge to this day, is that Bill's drumming has an element of improv in it, especially in the fills and definitely in the swing element. Someone posted a concert of their '73 California Jam. I was blown away by the energy and power of the arrangement, particularly with this being a power trio format along with the vocals, similar to Zep and Van Halen. Whenever you have fewer players the arrangement becomes tantamount. Ward's drumming is perfect for their music. His playing defies easy copying, he wasn't really a minimalist. Definitely could play more notes when called for, yet would not sit in the pocket long, or even play a simple beat for very long, unlike Bonham or Paice who both could sit and dig in on a relatively simple beat for much of a tune. As stated earlier he could play more like a big-band drummer supporting the song completely as part of an overall arrangement.

Another observation from the California Jam clip I found interesting was how his drum set was basically made up of (or so it appeared) no less than 3 brands of drums? Later he would play a certain brand but on this show it looked like his bass drums were Hayman, he had Slingerland and (Premier and/or Ludwig?) toms? I forgot what brand snare drum. Very unorthodox setup as well. Extremely utilitarian in the positioning of the drums...

One could do well to play and learn many of the drum parts, which would become--like Zep and Deep Purple as well--templates for hard-rock-metal drumming.
 
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I'm on the edge of an intense study of Sabbath and Ward's incredible drumming. I have a few of their albums on vinyl. The thing I recall back when I was in high school was my friend, also a drummer was a huge fan, I was lukewarm to them, more into Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin by far. I think some of the "evilness" of the lyrics was a slight turn off to me, and its funny because when one really listens to the lyrics they're not evil at all, more about the human condition.

Any who, another thing I totally remember and acknowledge to this day, is that Bill's drumming has an element of improv in it, especially in the fills and definitely in the swing element. Someone posted a concert of their '73 California Jam. I was blown away by the energy and power of the arrangement, particularly with this being a power trio format along with the vocals, similar to Zep and Van Halen. Whenever you have fewer players the arrangement becomes tantamount. Ward's drumming is perfect for their music. His playing defies easy copying, he wasn't really a minimalist. Definitely could play more notes when called for, yet would not sit in the pocket long, or even play a simple beat for very long, unlike Bonham or Paice who both could sit and dig in on a relatively simple beat for much of a tune. As stated earlier he could play more like a big-band drummer supporting the song completely as part of an overall arrangement.

Another observation from the California Jam clip I found interesting was how his drum set was basically made up of (or so it appeared) no less than 3 brands of drums? Later he would play a certain brand but on this show it looked like his bass drums were Hayman, he had Slingerland and (Premier and/or Ludwig?) toms? I forgot what brand snare drum. Very unorthodox setup as well. Extremely utilitarian in the positioning of the drums...

One could do well to play and learn many of the drum parts, which would become--like Zep and Deep Purple as well--templates for hard-rock-metal drumming.

I would love to hear your (or anyone's) observations after doing a DEEP dive into Bill Ward. I wish I had the time to do it. I have always found his drumming to be very interesting, unique, and creative. Like Entwistle and Moon, I am very intrigued by Butler and Ward, and exactly how that worked. Amazing.

Just don't (as many do wth other drummers) get too obsessed with "what brand and size drums and cymbals" that he played. Because with him, more than most, I get the impression that it didn't matter, AT ALL (but I could be wrong.)

Go for it, and please let us know what you learn.

MSG
 

langmick

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I love Bill Ward. I can remember the first time I heard Sabbath, it was on a Catholic school retreat. That's all it took. :)

He is swinging on all his parts, and has a feel that fits in so well with the music Tony and Geezer put together. He has fearlessness and spontaneity, and looking back, he was just doing what he was doing, but you could tell he had some thought about it. Some metal is intelligent, and Sabbath definitely had some very bright members (maybe not Ozzy though).

Vol 4 to me is the metal album. Not much comes close. The whole band's reason for existing came together.


I saw them when they came back with Bill, he was HEAVY. The songs had that solidity that he brings, it contributed to the vibe of the night.

Tommy Clufetos does a pretty good jbob of getting inside that groove. Saw the final tour with him twice. Very heavy, not the same darkness that Bill played with, but super heavy. I think he got the gig in part because he looks like a young Bill Ward. I have a suspicion that Bill wouldn't have been able to tour successfully, but who knows. Tommy kicked the band in the ass though.

 

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I have memories of being at the Fillmore East ('70-'71?), Sabbath was the headliner and I know I enjoyed the hell out of Bill Ward's playing but I distinctly remember J.Geils was on before them and freakin' blew the roof off the place.
 

Drm1979

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War Pigs is like a showcase for Bill. Jazzy swing on the intro, amazing reserve on the drum breaks yet still intense.


Dan
And very hard to play like him. The closest I've heard is faith no more's cover.
 

Drm1979

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Really ??? I sure don’t hear it that way .
Not so much the swing but the strength and power. Tommy cluefetos does a good job covering it but I still dont think he brings the thunder to that song the way ward did. And when I heard the faith no more cover he was just playing with a lot of power behind it. At least that's how i heard it, granted it's been a few years since i last heard their version.
 

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I still remember when I first heard the band. I was in middle school and getting hip to various hard rock type things: Led Zep, Aerosmith, Deep Purple, etc but I hadn't heard Black Sabbath until a kid lent me a cassette of We Sold Our Souls for Rock and Roll. From the first note the music just sounded EXTREME to me. I'm not from a religious household where my folks censored anything and yet there was a feeling that I maybe shouldn't be listening to this music, it sounded so full of doom! This was maybe one reason that I was drawn to it though...

It was probably some years later when I got more into drumming and could appreciate what Ward was doing that I really became a fan of the guy's playing. I'm not sure that the man's abilities make him anything like a virtuoso, but to me that's besides the point. Great musicians are such to me not because of raw ability but because of their creativity and the personality that they bring to the music and Bill Ward accomplished those things in spades! I've never covered any of the band's songs, but whenever I'm creating a drum part for something and incorporate any kind of lumbering triplet fills or am applying a swinging type feel in a heavy rock context, I think of Bill Ward. I think that he's probably influenced a lot of people.

I feel like there was some kind of dividing line between the older style of metal and a newer one that was faster and played with far less of that swing feel. As much as I like heavy music (I like some punk too, though not so much of the real hardcore stuff), I was never drawn much to the newer metal sounds from the 90s to now (or maybe even starting a bit earlier than that) because I missed the sort of swagger that the old stuff seemed to have and the feel, which seems to be based on the very old swing feel in jazz, that Bill Ward had was such a huge ingredient in that type of sound... and no one has done it better than he did!

Any version of Sabbath that I've heard without Bill Ward has been pretty disappointing to me. it's as if they can't find anyone who plays that kind of heavy music but with Ward;s swinging feel. That combination of the heavy with the swing doesn't seem like it should be that rare, but perhaps it is...
 
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