Metalheads visiting the Ozzfest Web site Friday thought they'd stumbled upon the news they'd been waiting weeks for.
"We interrupt your Friday for a very special announcement from the Prince of F---ing Darkness," began a video file that served as the first episode of "OzTV." The payoff, however, was not what many fans had expected.
Rather than confirming that Black Sabbath would perform on the Ozzfest main stage, as had been anticipated, the announcement publicized what is presumably a contest that would give one unknown band the opportunity to play on the main stage. Further details, the message indicated, would be given on Thursday.
Could that really have been the big announcement the site had been hyping for days before? The fact that the file was initially named "SabbathAnnouncement.mov" supports speculation to the contrary; the clip was renamed "Announcement.mov" shortly after it was posted.
Ozzfest organizers didn't return calls at press time.
Talk of Ozzy Osbourne's old band headlining the tour began weeks ago and was all but confirmed by Osbourne himself on March 31. Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler was already making the trek as Ozzy's bassist when the syndicated radio program "Rockline" asked Osbourne whether discussions about a Sabbath reunion were under way. Unconvincingly, the frontman replied, "I think so."
Since then, Internet message boards have been buzzing under the assumption that Sabbath would make their fourth Ozzfest appearance and first in three years. Just in case organizers needed any prodding, 215 people have signed an online petition to that effect with enough conviction to make one fan write, "For the love of God, make it happen!"
The Ozzfest camp maintains that this year's headliners include Ozzy, Judas Priest and Slayer (see "Judas Priest, Slayer, Slipknot To Join Ozzy On Ozzfest").