Bill Ward Was Left With Third Degree Burns After This Black Sabbath Prank Went Wrong

Black Sabbath had a penchant for setting people on fire. “It was our party piece,” Tony Iommi told The Guardian, “which almost worked until the last time we did it.” The incident in question played out in front of music producer Martin Birch, who was scared of the band at the best of times, as Iommi told Gibson TV (on YouTube) in 2020. “Bill walked in, and I said, ‘Bill, can I set fire to you?'” Iommi recalled. “And he said, ‘Not just now, I’m busy.’ ‘Okay then.’ And he went out into the drum room, fiddling about his drums, and then he came back: ‘Okay, I’m ready now. Do you want to set me on fire?’ I went, ‘Okay.'”

A horrified Birch looked on as Iommi poured two bottles of rubbing alcohol on Ward and then lit the fire. “It soaked into his clothes and I lit him, and it went up like a bomb,” Iommi said. “I put too much on. Instead of it just burning enough, it burnt through his trousers, burnt all his legs, and so he had to go to a hospital. He had third-degree burns. He was rolling on the floor, and I thought it was part of the joke, so I’m still pouring the stuff on him. It was absolutely mad.” Perhaps it’s no surprise Ward quit Black Sabbath in 1980.

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