HOLLYWOOD — Sharon Osbourne sees two distinct characteristics in this year's Ozzfest lineup.
"It's harder than hard, and my God is it ugly," the tour organizer said Friday (February 20) at a press conference to announce the trek. "But we feel like it's what the fans want."
The metal festival's ninth incarnation will find Sharon's headliner husband and tour namesake, Ozzy Osbourne, sharing the main stage with Judas Priest, reunited with longtime singer Rob Halford; Slayer; Norwegian black metal sextet Dimmu Borgir; Black Label Society; and Superjoint Ritual, fronted by Pantera's Phil Anselmo. Tickets go on sale February 28.
"It would almost be blasphemy for me not to be a part of this Ozzfest because it's so classic heavy-metal oriented," Anselmo said after the press conference. "Each Ozzfest has its own taste and flavor of the day ... [but this year's] has zeroed in on bands that have longevity."
Two-time Ozzfest veterans Slipknot will headline the second stage, where (unlike the main stage) fans can mix it up in the pit (see "Slipknot Headlining Ozzfest's Second Stage"). "This is the meaning of the heaviest Ozzfest of all time," Slipknot's Paul Grey said. "We're ready to throw down."
"If there's any Ozzfest you would want to be on, it's this one," bandmate Joey Jordison added.
Ozzy's participation in the two-month tour, which kicks off July 10 in Hartford, Connecticut, is surprising. He sustained severe injuries, including fractured ribs and a broken collarbone that required emergency surgery, in December (see "Ozzy Seriously Injured After Crashing All-Terrain Vehicle"). Shortly after his release from the hospital, doctors estimated it would take Osbourne six months to recover.
"Considering I died twice, I'm feeling pretty good," Ozzy said. "This morning somebody said, 'Is there going to be a team of paramedics on the side of the stage?' I'm not dead. I'm ready to rock, man!"
Sharon said later that headlining Ozzfest was the best thing Ozzy could do. "It's so great because he now has a goal to work towards, July 10, and he'll be there," she said. "He is the 'Iron Man,' nothing can stop him."
She compared Ozzy's situation to her own experience in 2002, when planning Ozzfest helped pull her through chemotherapy. "It's a reason to get up every morning and not think about what's going on in your body," she said.
As always, Sharon had help planning Ozzfest from her kids, Jack and Kelly, who each handpicked a second-stage band — Lamb of God and Lacuna Coil, respectively.
The latter is an Italian goth metal band fronted by Cristina Scabbia, who said she's not interested in being noted as the lone female so far on the bill. "I'll keep my femininity, but I'll be happy to share the same energy and passion as the other bands."
As for the other second-stage bands, which include Hatebreed, God Forbid, Atreyu, Bleeding Through, Every Time I Die and Unearth, the Osbournes turned to fans, who voted on www.ozzfest.com, to help choose the lineup. Additional artists are expected to be announced later.
Ozzfest 2004 will be the first time Judas Priest tour the U.S. with Halford since he left the band in 1992. Tim "Ripper" Owens, the singer in a Priest cover band, filled the frontman slot from 1996 until last year, when Halford reunited with his bandmates (see "Judas Priest Discuss Emotional Reunion, Leaving Ripper Owens Behind").
"In out hearts, we never left each other," Halford said. "We all felt the day would come that we would regroup. There's too much history in the music we make. ... And this is a wonderful way for us to be back in the United States. It's a very cool thing to do, there's always a broad cross-section. This is going to be the most extreme as far as crossing the board of metal."
Priest's reunion had the musicians at Friday's announcement literally cheering with excitement.
"I'm probably one of the biggest Priest fans on the face of the earth," Slayer guitarist Kerry King said as he mingled in the green room. "I'm looking forward to when we get done playing, I can stand stage left some nights, stage right some nights and watch the original guitar heroes."
Although Sharon and Ozzy cracked jokes throughout Friday's press conference, it was Priest's Halford who got the loudest laughs. It started when Sharon was asked why this year's lineup had all metal bands and nothing that could be considered rap-rock or alternative.
"Because that's what Ozzfest is about," she said. "If you want alt, go to other festivals, not ours. We're not gay."
Halford then pointed out dryly, "I am."
Ozzfest is one of the summer concert season's most successful outings. The 9-year-old festival has grossed more than $146.5 million and has staged 236 shows for 3.8 million fans. Not that the Osbournes are in it for the money.
"Ozzy would make more money if he went out on his own," Sharon said. "This is something we do because we love it. How could we not do it? It's our summer camp."
Ozzfest tour dates, according to its publicists:
- 7/10 - Hartford, CT @ ctnow.com Meadows Music
- 7/12 - Mansfield, MA @ Tweeter Center
- 7/14 - Wantagh, NY @ Tommy Hilfiger at Jones Beach Amphitheater
- 7/16 - Holmdel, NJ @ PNC Bank Arts Center
- 7/18 - Bristow, VA @ Nissan Pavilion
- 7/20 - Columbus, OH @ Germain Amphitheatre
- 7/22 - Nashville, TN @ Starwood Amphitheatre
- 7/24 - Englewood, CO @ Fiddler's Green Amphitheatre
- 7/27 - Auburn, WA @ White River Amphitheatre
- 7/29 - Mountain View, CA @ Shoreline Amphitheatre
- 7/31 - Devore, CA @ Hyundai Pavilion of Glen Helen
- 8/3 - Albuquerque, NM @ Journal Pavilion
- 8/5 - Dallas, TX @ Smirnoff Music Center
- 8/7 - San Antonio, TX @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
- 8/10 - Kansas City, KS @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
- 8/12 - Maryland Heights, MO @ UMB Pavilion
- 8/14 - East Troy, WI @ Alpine Valley Music Theatre
- 8/17 - Clarkston, MI @ DTE Energy Center
- 8/19 - Cuyahoga Falls, OH @ Blossom Music Center
- 8/21 - Tinley Park, IL @ Tweeter Center
- 8/24 - Noblesville, IN @ Verizon Wireless Music Center
- 8/26 - Camden, NJ @ Tweeter Center at the Waterfront
- 8/28 - Burgettstown, PA @ Post-Gazette Pavilion at Star Lake
- 8/31 - Raleigh, NC @ Alltel Pavilion at Walnut Creek
- 9/2 - Tampa, FL @ Tampa Bay Amphitheatre
- 9/4 - West Palm Beach, FL @ Sound Advice Amphitheatre