There’s something a little different about Black Sabbath’s performance at Ozzfest nowadays, and if you blink you might miss it.
Two images of George W. Bush, shown during Sabbath’s performance of the metal classic “War Pigs,” have been removed from the video montage that accompanies the song, which usually kicks off the band’s headlining set. One image that juxtaposed Bush and Adolf Hitler was captioned “Same sh–, different a–hole,” while the second superimposed a round, red clown nose on the president, along with the words “White House Clown.”
The edit comes days after Sabbath drummer Bill Ward, who claimed he was unaware of what was showing behind him, distanced himself from the images and the sentiment they implied.
“It has been brought to my attention that the widescreen portrays President George W. Bush with a clown nose appearing with past warmongers, including Adolf Hitler,” Ward wrote on his Web site. “I wish to say this video structure does not represent my personal views towards President Bush. This video was made without my prior knowledge or consent.”
The Ozzfest camp said it did not create the inflammatory images, but only compiled pre-existing footage to accompany the anti-war song.
“The Ozzfest ‘War Pigs’ clip is a video montage of conflicts and war protests from the last century to today with stock footage secured from third parties,” read a statement from festival organizers. “The image of President Bush and Hitler is taken from a CNN news feature that shows a protestor holding a sign with President Bush and Hitler. The video is part of a musical performance and the images should not be taken out of context.”
An article in Wednesday’s USA Today alleges that the Bush images were removed due to complaints, though an Ozzfest spokesperson denied the claim. Instead, the spokesperson said, the montage was edited because too many media outlets were taking the footage out of context, and it steered attention away from Black Sabbath’s performance.
Two years ago, Bush met Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne at the White House Correspondents Association dinner. Osbourne and his wife, Sharon, attended as guests of FOX News host Greta Van Susteren (see “Ozzy Accepts Invite To White House Dinner” ).
[This story was updated at 4:18 p.m ET on 07.22.2004]