Today we are taking a trip down the Far Out archives to the hedonistic days of Black Sabbath’s scandalous heyday and revisiting one of the most insane tales. After partaking in narcotic based activities, an incident occurred which allegedly led to Ozzy Osbourne attempting to poison his bandmate Bill Ward with an aerosol can and the drummer’s own penis.
This particular anecdote is from 1972 when the band were living in a mansion in Bel Air which was dominated by cocaine, so much so that they originally planned to call the album they were working on as Snowblind. However, they instead had to compromise and go for the more family-friendly title of Vol. 4.
Reflecting on this period in the band’s history, Ozzy Osbourne once detailed the incident as part of his 2010 autobiography I Am Ozzy, noting: “For me, Snowblind was one of Black Sabbath’s best-ever albums—although, the record company wouldn’t let us keep the title, ‘cos in those days cocaine was a big deal, and they didn’t’ want the hassle of a controversy.”
The band became so captivated by their coke sessions during the recording sessions that bassist Terence ‘Geezer’ Butler would admit years later that the making of the album cost the band around $60,000 in total. The eye-watering figure was sizeably less make than the band’s coke habit while recording which, according to rumours, stood at a staggering $75,000 bill.
Osbourne revealed the coke-fuelled prank he attempted to pull on Ward whilst they were urinating next to one other, saying this to Rolling Stone some years later: “I see this aerosol can and squirt his dick with it. He starts screaming and falls down. I look at the can and it says, WARNING: DO NOT SPRAY ON SKIN – HIGHLY TOXIC. I poisoned Bill through his dick!”
However, in his 2010 autobiography, he would remember the incident a little different and tried to rewrite history by painting himself in a more innocent light. He wrote: “One day, Tony gets this can of blue spray paint and sneaks around the other side of the railing, and when Bill starts pissing over the railing, he sprays his dick with it. You should have heard the scream, man. It was priceless. But then, two seconds later, Bill blacks out, falls headfirst over the railing and starts rolling down the hillside.”
He then added in a comic tongue: “Ah, he’ll be all right,’ I said. And he was, eventually. Although he did have a blue dick for a while.”
This strangely wasn’t the only time that Ward found himself on the receiving end of an aerosol can, with Tony Iommi revealing that they “sprayed Bill gold once. He was pissed drunk, so we painted and lacquered him. We never realized we could’ve killed him.”
The tales from this era of the band’s peak did lead to some great music and some even greater anecdotes to the band but the hedonism couldn’t last forever and it would eventually be their biggest downfall when addiction fully took hold of them.