After Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler penned an open letter to fans yesterday (May 19) in response to drummer Bill Ward‘s own letter a few days earlier, Ward responded to Butler’s letter earlier today (May 20). It’s the latest in the ongoing saga surrounding Ward’s departure from the legendary metal band.

In Butler’s letter, titled ‘Heavy Heart,’ he noted, among other things, “Unfortunately, to our surprise, Bill issued a statement on his site saying he’d been offered an un-signable contract. He hadn’t told any one of us he was having contractual problems, and frankly those things are worked out between our representatives, and never between the four of us let alone in public.”

Now, Ward is saying that is not the case. The drummer also insists that Butler’s claim that he demanded a ridiculous fee for the band’s Download festival gig is untrue, in addition to explaining why he made his stance public to the fans. Read Ward’s response to Butler’s letter in its entirety below:

Dear Sabbath Fans and Musicians,

I have read Geezer’s statement of May 19, 2012 titled “Heavy Heart.” Out of respect for the Birmingham gig, I wanted to wait 24 hours before releasing this statement. There are some points he brought up which I want to respond to.

1) I had indeed notified Ozzy, Tony and Geezer, well before my first public statement, that I was having contractual difficulties.

2) I came out into a public forum to be accountable to the fans primarily, and to say at a public level there’s a problem. The band members stopped talking and corresponding with me some time ago, with the exception of a nice letter from Tony on my birthday. Prior to that, Geezer and I were corresponding, but that stopped abruptly in late February after I emailed a specific question to him.

3) In my statement of May 15, I clearly stated I would play Birmingham for free. That was not a problem – charity or otherwise.

4) My Download fee was not an extravagant amount. Originally, when Download was part of a full tour, I had asked for a decent fee. More recently, as we were negotiating just Download/Birmingham and Lollapalooza, I told my attorney that I would accept the proposed small Download fee, but there were other parts of the offer that were unsatisfactory.

I will continue to be honest and respectful towards the band and our fans. I will also confront any untruths about me, and any fault finding missions aimed at me that come to my attention.
I hope the band and the fans had a good gig in Brum.

Stay safe/stay strong.

Bill Ward

As we reported earlier, Sabbath (with replacement drummer Tommy Clufetos) played their first gig in seven years last night (May 19) in their hometown of Birmingham, England. Check out the set list and video footage here.

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