In 2007, however, Ozzfest organizers had chaos on their hands with what would unofficially be known as “Freefest,” an ambitious plan to make the tour 100 percent free of charge for its loyal fans. While managing a more than respectable lineup that included acts like Static-X and Lamb of God, there were inevitable issues with the practicality of such a concept.
Now, three years later, Ozzy and Co. make their triumphant return to the touring format for the first time since “Freefest” (2008 saw the festival take the form of one lonely Texas date, while 2009 saw it completely absent), kicking off Ozzfest 2010 this Saturday at Devore’s San Manuel Amphitheater, headlined by none other than the Ozzman himself, who will be blasting brand-new tracks off of his latest solo album, Scream.
Conspicuous by his absence from the disc, however, is longtime guitarist Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society, who will be MIA from an Ozzy album for the first time since 1988 (taking over for Wylde will be Greek axeman Gus G.); in an interview with Guitar World Magazine earlier this year, the now-sober Osbourne attributed the parting of ways to Wylde’s alcohol consumption. That said, the rock legend maintains there is no animosity between the two.
“We have not fallen out, I mean, don’t anyone for one minute think that we’re enemies. We’re not,” Ozzy told reporters in a conference call last week. “No one could replace [Zakk.] He’s a force on his own, you know?”
Wylde isn’t the only old pal with whom Ozzy has had issues as of late, inconsequential as they might be; legal issues arose between Osbourne and Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi last May over who owned the rights to the name “Black Sabbath,” a matter that was finally put to rest just last month. With their business troubles behind them, Ozzy confesses that one last Black Sabbath record would bring his career full-circle, so to speak.
“To be honest with you, I would love to do a killer Black Sabbath record. It would make my whole [career] round up perfectly for me [ . . . ] It’s closure, as far as I’m concerned. We broke up on bad terms. If it did come together, it would be great.”
While it’s been nearly four full decades since the release of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, the ex-reality TV star maintains that not too much has changed since then.
“I still like to play loud music, I still like to make records. I’m just having fun with it, you’ve got to have fun doing what you do.”
And at this year’s Ozzfest, Ozzy having fun will undoubtedly translate into fun for the fans, as he is joined on the main stage by, among others, fellow legends Halford and Mötley Crüe, as well as a slew of contemporary rockers on the side stage, including Wylde’s Black Label Society, Drowning Pool, Exodus and others. After four decades, it’s clear that the rush is still very much the same for the Prince of Darkness.
“When everything is in the right place and it’s going well and my voice is on form, you know, and the crowd is giving me some craziness, there’s nothing in the world that can come anywhere near it. Love, sex, drugs…there’s nothing that can touch it.”
Ozzfest w/Ozzy Osbourne and more at San Manuel Amphitheater, 2575 Glen Helen Pkwy., San Bernardino, (909) 880-6500; www.ozzfest.com. Sat, Aug. 14. Noon. $19.50-$155.