Mike and I have a cousin named Samantha aka Sandy , whom lives in Coca Beach, Florida not too far from the Northern tip of W.Palm Beach.In 1983 & 84 she was dating the famous & original Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward. At the time,Ward was battling alcoholism and was replaced in mid-sessions on the BORN AGAIN Album by Bev Bevans, of ELO/Move fame.Ex-Deep Purple Ian Gillan had also become the lead vocalist for the band,replacing the recently fired Ronnie James Dio.
I never really took the time later to understand the timeline of everything,their relationship and Ward’s relationship with Sabbath and the recording of the BORN AGAIN record.I believe they only toured to that record for a very short time , and I don’t even know if Bill actually ever took part in any of the shows on their tour as he was quite ill at time. Sandy was rather concerned about our own battle with the bottle and called us from L.A. and put Bill on the phone with both Mike and I,one at a time of course,and he gave us some advice and a good chat on how to give up the sauce ourselves,which at the time we were hitting the hard stuff like we haven’t at no other time in our lives.
Empty booze bottles rattled around the back floor of a car we shared , regularly.We didn’t worry about open containers in those days.”It’s bloody no good for you mates, look at where it will take you”,Bill said. We listened, but not til years later.I think we got the message but it wasn’t registering at age 19.It was sought of a message where we said to ourselves-“when we get to be your age Bill,we’ll think about it”. We were too amazed that we were talking live to a legendary rock drummer to really care about what lecture he had for us but we wished him luck. I don’t believe Ward truly sobered up until many years later, but today – he is clean and sober! Btw,I’d like to thank Mr.Ward for sending us drum sticks,guitar picks,and autographs from himself and the rest of the band.
On a different note,here is a true story that Sandy shared with us which is the basis of the story line covered in Black Sabbath’s song called “Trashed” from the same BORN AGAIN lp.
This one was conveyed in a letter she had written to Mike and I, where she complained about another day of showering with cold water (it’s a complaint she uttered endlessly so it stuck in my mind),and this was around the time that she was back in the UK with Bill and there was way too much partying going on and so on with the other members of the band.She was pushing 30 at the time and her all night drinking days had already been a thing of the past.
She said the worst of that particular day ended with Ian Gillan rolling Bill’s car down a hill and almost killing himself.She said Bill had enough problems already and now found out his “new” car was demolished.In the end he was happy that Ian was ok after hearing the details.Ian had taken Bill’s car for a speed kill spin on the Manor property which contained a Go kart race track…I assume a rather bigger Go Kart track than normal.
Ian Gillan told it this way to a interviewer: “I was blind drunk. I hit this pile of tyres and before I knew it Iwas completely out of control and rolling upside down. In my drunken haze I realised I was in fact heading towards the swimming pool.Luckily, the car ground to a halt a matter of inches before thewater. Good job too because I was properly strapped in and in my inebriated state it took what seemed like forever to get out of the thing. If I’d have gone in the drink that might have been the last of me. I can’t imagine what I was thinking”.From the author of the article which was taken from a Sabbath site: In a somewhat diplomatic exclusion from Ian, he failed to mention that the totalled car was not his, but belonged to acertain Mr. Ward of the parish. Understandably the drummer was not best pleased to discover his brand new investment upside down. “Ian was very lucky that day”, reckons Geoff Nicholls. Apparently, when the overturned Granada finally ground to a halt it was not only precariously close to the swimming pool, but also the local canal,where Gillan had his boat moored. “Ian was so unbelievably drunk. If he had actually gone in the canal we would not have been able to see him because it was so dirty. The water was pitch black and covered ingreen scum. He was so close to the edge but he miraculously walkedaway without a scratch. Bill was not too pleased but he decided toget his own back. Of course three years I’ve been involved in a couple of close calls since and a DUI finally sealed the deal for me for good.Taxi’s or sober friends for now on. As a line goes in this song “I thank you Mr. Miracle I won’t get trashed again”.