Black Sabbath's big reunion plans seem to be cursed. First, guitarist and the only consistent member of the band Tony Iommi was diagnosed with lymphoma. Then they had to drop out of playing Coachella due to Iommi's diagnosis. The latest speed bump for them is that last week founding drummer Bill Ward dropped out of the reunion citing a lack of respect in the terms of the contract presented to him by the Sabs camp. Sabbath has pledged to move on with the reunion without him. Dates, however, have been taken off of the official website and the only one they have confirmed will happen is Download Festival in their official statement on the Bill Ward matter.
I personally feel that Ward is irreplaceable. Simply put, without him it's not a true Sabbath reunion. I'll still go see them. But it won't feel completely right without him. That being said, since the band is committed to continuing without him despite the objections of purists like me, I decided to consider their options. After all, there's plenty of superstar drummers that could fill Ward's shoes that, while lacking the history with the band, may even add a thing or two to their new sound. Here's my top five.
5. Vinny Appice
The obvious choice would be Ward's original replacement in the band. When the Dio years started, Ward was in a bad place with his alcoholism and was replaced by Appice for their classic album The Mob Rules. He continued to serve as the drummer for the band any time Dio was fronting them. But even with the good will since Dio's passing, would Ozzy want Dio's go-to guy returning to the fold or would he throw a fit about it? Considering this is Ozzy we're talking about, as well as Sharon, I'm guessing this one is a long shot.
4. Tommy Clufetos
If Ozzy isn't happy with Appice then maybe he might look to his own current drummer, Tommy Clufetos who played on Ozzy's Scream album. He'd be a suitable replacement, he's definitely got the skills, but he's also not quite as big of a deal. Nobody really knows who Clufetos is, regardless of his skills. He's played for some big names, but he's a backing band guy, the kind you refer to as "that guy that played drums for Rob Zombie that one time." With all the problems that have plagued this reunion up to now, they need a bombshell replacement drummer to get people believing in it again and Clufetos isn't that bombshell. So perhaps they could look to the last big name drummer to play for Ozzy.
3. Mike Bordin
Faith No More drummer Mike Bordin was in Ozzy's band pretty much from the time Faith No More disbanded to the time they reunited. He also has more Sabbath cred because he replaced Ward for some shows in 1997 when Ward had taken ill. He's pretty much the perfect choice at this juncture, but he's also somewhat busy. Faith No More doesn't have too active of a schedule this year, but there are murmurs of a new album which would probably take his attention for some time. So how about a bombshell replacement who has fuck-all else going on?
2. Mike Portnoy
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The ex-drummer for Dream Theater has attempted to keep busy since he departed the band he founded, but none of these projects are particularly substantial. Portnoy has admitted he made a mistake leaving Dream Theater, especially since he got jilted from Avenged Sevenfold immediately after. He's a man in need of a solid gig. He's also a superstar in the drum world who could bring a more progressive flavor to new Black Sabbath tracks. It would work out pretty well for all camps involved. But perhaps they could get an even bigger, even more controversial name in the metal community...
1. Lars Ulrich
Yep, good old Lars, the guy every metalhead loves to hate for cutting his hair, "selling out," "killing Napster," and also being the only member of Metallica that people don't think is kind of a cool guy in spite of it all. It seems like poor Lars gets all the shit heaped on him for anything Metallica does that people don't like. But Lars is a solid drummer, a superstar name in the metal world, and a Black Sabbath devotee since his youth. In fact, Metallica inducted Sabbath into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and even performed with some covers with Ozzy and Geezer in December at their 30th anniversary shows (see the video above). Metallica are also set to play Download Festival, the aforementioned date which Sabbath has committed to keeping. He's also got the day off that day, since Metallica plays the night before. So while some may not like Lars, this would not only be a massive name to recruit, even if only for a night, but he could obviously serve the songs some justice and it would just feel right, you know?