Flashback: Rob Halford Fronts Black Sabbath in 1992 - Rolling Stone
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Flashback: Rob Halford Fronts Black Sabbath in 1992

Judas Priest frontman stepped in for Ronnie James Dio

In the summer of 1992 Ozzy Osbourne was a mere 43 years old and his new album No More Tears was a huge hit, so it was a pretty big shock to his fans when he announced a farewell tour, claiming he wanted to spend more time with his family. A cynic might suggest that the No More Tours outing was a transparent ploy to sell more tickets cooked up by a certain wife/manager, but it certainly worked. Tickets sold like crazy all over the world.

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The tour was slated to wrap up November 15th at the Pacific Ampitheater in Costa Mesa, California. Ozzy hadn’t played with Black Sabbath since a brief set at Live Aid in 1985, but he invited them to open up the show and then play a few songs with him at the end of the night, effectively bringing his career full circle. The idea didn’t sit too well with Ronnie James Dio, who had spent the year touring with Sabbath in support of their new album Dehumanizer.

Dio flat out refused to open up for the former lead singer of his band and then watch in the wings as they reunited at the end of the night. The guys in Sabbath were determined to go on with the gig, so they recruited Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford to front them for the night. Here’s amateur footage of the complete show. Halford does a great job considering he had to learn an hour-long set of songs he’d never done before.

Needless to say, Ozzy was back on the road just three years later when he launched the Retirement Sucks Tour. By that point, Black Sabbath were back playing clubs with singer Tony Martin at the helm. The group got back with Ozzy a couple years after that, though he continued to balance the group with his solo career. Before a show in New Jersey in the summer of 2004, Ozzy got sick and Rob Halford once again took over as singer. He flubbed the lyrics to “Paranoid” and many in the crowd were quite upset about getting denied Ozzy at Ozzfest, but they did get to witness yet another chapter in the endless soap opera of Black Sabbath.


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