Bill Ward, born in 1948 in Aston, Birmingham, England, is the drummer and one of the founding members of the English heavy metal band Black Sabbath. His drumming is best characterized by rapid drum rolls in between guitar riffs.
Bill Ward's interest in music began as early as age 5 when he first played drums. At age 15, Bill was already playing gigs. His most influential drummers include Larrie London, Louie Bellson, Bernard Purdie, and Joe Morello. Prior to Black Sabbath, Ward became a member of the bands The Rest, Method 5, and Mythology, from 1963 to 1968. After the breakup of their previous band Mythology, Ward and guitarist Tony Iommi joined vocalist Ozzy Osbourne and bassist Geezer Butler and formed a group that worked under the names The Polka Tulk Blues Company, Earth, and finally,
Black Sabbath. Ward was the drummer on all released albums from 1969 to 1980, including the quadruple-platinum album Paranoid in the 1970s. August 1980 saw his temporary absence from the band for personal reasons after the release of Heaven and Hell. He was then unable to participate in the recording of 1981s Mob Rules. In January 1983, Ward returned in time for 1983s Born Again, however, due to problems with his health, he once again left the band following the album's recording. He was out for about a year, returned once more in summer of 1984, and stayed with the band until September 1985. From then until 1994, several drummers took his place in the band, namely, Eric Singer, Bev Bevan, Terry Chimes, Cozy Powell, Vinny Appice, and Bobby Rondinelli. Ward made a short-lived return to the band in August 1994 for a South American tour, where he played for 3 dates.
Ward released two albums, Ward One: Along the Way in 1989 and When the Bough Breaks (Preview Release) in 1997, under his solo project, The Bill Ward Band, before finally reuniting with Black Sabbath. Before this reunion, however, Ward and the original Black Sabbath already did short sets for Live Aid in 1985, and at a Costa Mesa, California Ozzy Osbourne show in November 1992. For the full-blown reunion, the band did two shows at the Birmingham NEC on December 4th and 5th 1997, which gave them an opportunity to release a double live album, aptly titled Reunion, in October 1998. It was the single Iron Man from this album that gave Ward and the band their first-ever Grammy award for Best Metal Performance.
In the summer of 1998, just before the band's European tour, Bill Ward suffered a heart attack while in rehearsals, which led to his temporary replacement by Vinny Appice. Fortunately, Ward had a speedy recovery and was well enough to return, this time for good, in January 1999, during which the band headlined in the annual Ozzfest tour through summer of that year. After this tour, the band members each worked on solo material, and Ward also found time to work on Tony Iommi's solo album, Iommi, in 2000.
Ward was initially reported to participate in a tour with Iommi, Butler, and vocalist Ronnie James Dio in October 2006 under the name Heaven and Hell, however, he dropped out before the tour began, and was replaced once again by Appice.
Bill Ward married four times and is blessed with two sons, Nigel and Aron, and one daughter, Emily. He has a regular radio show, Rock 50, an internet-only college radio program which broadcasts from Cerritos College in California.