Original Black Sabbath drummer and founding member, William Thomas “Bill” Ward turned 69 yesterday. (born 5 May 1948) And in his honor, tonight I am hitting you with a triple shot of tracks that show off his skills on the skins! Ward is known for his very unorthodox style of playing the drums, often using snare-drills and tempo-drop to match both vocals and riff. Drumming website Totaldrumsets has listed Bill among the “The 100 Most Influential Drummers Ever!” and has defined him as “the mastermind behind the unholy birth of heavy metal drumming”.
Coming from 1975’s seminal Sabotage album comes the pulverizing masterpiece that is ‘Symptom of the Universe’ –- a song that, also epitomizes the classic Bill Ward contribution to Black Sabbath. Just listen as he drives the tune’s nervous tempo like a ten-ton locomotive, holding the entire careening train on track with his explosive fills while negotiating the dizzying riff transitions that follow, before laying back and calmly steering the caboose into the station during the song’s acoustic coda.
From 1970’s nearly-perfect Paranoid album, ‘Rat Salad’ was essentially Sabbath’s answer to Led Zeppelin’s ‘Moby Dick.’ This short and sweet instrumental excursion provides a rare opportunity for Bill to cut loose and show his chops, unaccompanied!
Bill Ward’s superhuman strength with a pair of drumsticks in his fists never proved more devastating than on Vol. 4’s crushing ‘Supernaut’ –- and his solitary hi-hat preceding the song only heightens the decapitating impact of what’s to follow. Far from being a one-dimensional head-banging Goliath, though, the song eventually breaks down into an eye-opening Ward solo spot that drags the lords of doom and gloom away on a brief Caribbean holiday? Yeah that’s Bill for you.
*Excerpts taken from the “Top 10 Bill Ward Black Sabbath Songs” by Ultimate Classic Rock. Read the original piece HERE.