Ozzy Osbourne will leave his post as the headliner of his annual Ozzfest for three weeks to be with his wife Sharon as she battles cancer.
Osbourne plans to leave his namesake tour after Sunday's show in Atlanta to join his wife as she begins chemotherapy treatment. He hopes to return for the tour's August 22 stop in Denver.
"This is one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make in my life, but I'm sure that everyone out there will understand," Ozzy told an MTV film crew on Thursday.
"I'm putting on a brave face here, guys, but I'm burning up inside. I have to go home," he added.
Sharon, who manages Ozzfest as well as Ozzy's career, announced in early July that she would undergo surgery to treat what was described as a treatable form of cancer (see "Sharon Osbourne To Undergo Cancer Surgery, Two Ozzfest Shows Postponed"). The Osbourne matriarch then learned that what began as cancer in her colon had spread, and that chemotherapy would be needed (see "Sharon Osbourne Says Cancer Has Spread").
Always a fixture at Ozzfest, Sharon's absence has been felt this time around. Osbourne speaks with his wife frequently before his performances, and offers messages from her to his audience each night (see "Papa Ozzy Bares Fangs Again As Ozzfest Hits Boston").
During Ozzy's leave from the tour, co-headliner System of a Down will assume the top spot on a main-stage lineup that also includes Rob Zombie, P.O.D., Drowning Pool, Adema and Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society.
"The Ozzfest is my baby, and no one is going to take my baby away from me," Ozzy said. "Keep Ozzfest going. We're going to get over this hurdle. We've gotten over worse before. Stick it out with me. I need you now more than ever."
Ozzy thanked the bands and crew that will carry on without him during his leave of absence, and thanked fans for understanding his decision. "I'm sure my fans will understand. Anyone in this position would do the same thing," he said. "I relish seeing you people. You're my life, you're my air, you're my breath, you're everything to me."
He noted that Sharon had arranged for fans who come out to Ozzfest during his leave to receive a free treat from concession stands on site.
"As sick as she is, she's still organizing sh--," Ozzy marveled