Bill Ward: Black Sabbath Drummer Praises Lars Ulrich In Wake of Metallica Firing Rumors

Lars Ulrich, the drummer for — arguably — the biggest rock band in the world, Metallica, has been in the spotlight for the last week as news came to light that Metallica thought about getting rid of him after the release of their third album.

Let’s back up to the beginning.

Several years ago, former Metallica guitarist and Megadeth frontman, Dave Mustaine, made a comment that Scott Ian — founder and rhythm guitar player for Anthrax — had told him that Metallica thought about getting rid of Lars Ulrich at one point. That point was on the tour for Master of Puppets, Metallica’s third studio album. Other than Lars, in 1986 Metallica consisted of frontman James Hetfield, lead guitar player (and Mustaine’s replacement) Kirk Hammett, and bassist Cliff Burton.

Metallica '86
Metallica in 1986: Cliff Burton, Lars Ulrich, James Hetfield and Kirk Hammet

Scott Ian’s publicist supposedly spawned a tweet that denied Mustaine’s claim. However, in Ian’s book, I’m the Man: The Story of That Guy From Anthrax, which was released just last week, Scott says he didn’t deny Dave’s comment, and he went one step farther: he confirmed it.

According to Loudwire, Scott recalls the conversation in his book.

“All of a sudden Cliff and Kirk got serious. They told us when they got home from the tour they were going to fire Lars. They said they couldn’t take being in the band with him anymore and were done putting up with him. I knew there were issues between him and some of the other members, but every band has its problems. They usually work themselves out.

Cliff explained the plan: ‘The three of us have agreed. When we get home from this tour, we’re gonna get rid of Lars, even if it means we can’t use the name Metallica anymore.’ Somehow Lars owned the name at that point, or at least they thought he did.”

Scott Ian from Anthrax
Scott Ian's Book: 'I'm the Man...'

However, before that plan could be put in place, fate and an icy road in Sweden changed everything. Metallica’s bus lost control and crashed, killing bass player Cliff Burton on September 27th, 1986. Any plans of getting rid of Lars vanished immediately.

Now, according to Blabbermouth, this weekend Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward went on a heated defense of Ulrich on his radio show, Rock 50.

“His drum creations have brought the sound of Metallica to the very edge of the metal spearhead, and he’s worthy of much praise. He’s inspirational and a must-listen for students. So go ahead, students. If you are learning drums or need to learn the new techniques and stuff like that, listen to Lars, man. He’s got some really good stuff that you can learn from.”

Ward went on to say that he thought Metallica’s Black Album [Metallica] was as groundbreaking for hard rock and metal as the Beatles’ White Album was for its own genre.

Thus far, there has been no comment from Lars Ulrich or Metallica concerning the revelations in Scott Ian’s book, though Kirk Hammett did write the forward for it.

[Images via 100xr, loudwire, youtube]