Watch: Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward on growing up in Aston, Birmingham, and trips down Broad Street

One of Birmingham’s most famous musicians took inspiration from the Boys’ Brigade in the city
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Black Sabbath’s legendary drummer Bill Ward has told of his early musical inspiration while he was growing up in Aston, Birmingham - including the Boys’ Brigade drummers marching on the streets near his family home.

The vivid memories were recalled by Bill in an exclusive vidcast produced with commentary from Jim Simpson, the first manager of Black Sabbath with Bill speaking from his home in California, USA.

During the conversation, Bill remembers his first visit to an Indian restaurant as a teenager, how big American jazz stars like Count Basie and Tommy Dorsey inspired his musical development, and how he bought his first set of drums from a shop on Broad Street.

Five pictures of Black Sabbath taken in their early days that have never been seen before are also featured in the vidcast. These pictures belong to Jim Simpson, who has waived his copyright to allow them to be used in the new vidcast. The vidcast has been produced by Westside Business Improvement (BID).

In the vidcast, Bill discussed how the Boys’ Brigade inspired him to play the drums. The Boys‘ Brigade is a Church based youth organisation for boys and young men.

The origins of the Band go back to the formation of the Company when the Bugle Band was formed to lead Church Parades and provide Buglers for calls at Camp.

In the 1970’s the Band was transformed into a combined BB/GB Band and changed to valved instruments in the wind section, a whole range of percussion equipment and marching bells.

The Birmingham Battalion is the largest in England & Wales with 35 active companies in Birmingham, Solihull, Coventry Rugby, Nuneaton & Leamington Spa, and the brigade still operates in the W.

Bill said: “Most of my early childhood was spent in Aston … and there was always music on Saturday nights [with] the Boys’ Brigade, and that was fantastic, listening to the drummers in the Boys’ Brigade ...

“I was influenced by those Boys’ Brigades marching on every Sunday morning, coming around the corner, off the Lichfield Road onto Grosvenor Road.

“And I was fascinated by the colour of drums, and the ropes attached to the drums, and everything that makes a drum look incredible.”

Bill WardBill Ward
Bill Ward

The year 2022 was a good year for the band, as Ozzy Ozbourne and co played at the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony. Ozzy is due to play at Resorts world Arena on June 14.

And there are still hopes that Ozzy could get knighthood this year. The campaign to get the lead singer the accolade has received a boost after a petition organiser received a letter from the government confirming that he is under consideration for the accolade.

The woman who started the petition to get Ozzy his knighthood received a letter from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, which said: “I can confirm this case remains under consideration at this time.”