Black Sabbath's estranged original drummer Bill Ward is dousing hopes that he'll return to the band next year for the final leg of its “The End” farewell tour.
Rumors have surfaced recently that Ward -- who hasn't been part of the tour due to contractual differences with the band -- would return to his stool for U.K. dates taking place at the beginning of the year, with a pair of final shows on February 2 and 4 in Black Sabbath's home town of Birmingham, England.
But Ward has issued a statement via his official web site affirming that any rumors are "incorrect, and we wanted to make sure you heard it from us directly; Bill is not playing with Black Sabbath in the UK or on any other dates of 'The End' tour. As always, we thank you for all your support and understanding. Rock forever."
Earlier in the year Ward said that his management had reached out to Sabbath's team, headed by frontman Ozzy Osbourne's wife Sharon, about him joining the tour and was told there was no interest.
Sabbath beings its final North America run on August 12 in Wantagh, N.Y.
Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.