Now that Ozzy Osbourne is on the mend, following the staph infection that forced him to reschedule the last few North American dates of his No More Tours 2 Tour, he’s getting back onstage earlier than expected. On December 31st, he’ll headline a one-off Ozzfest at the L.A. Forum and count down to the new year. Joining him will be Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Korn’s Jonathan Davis (playing a solo set) and Body Count.
Zakk Sabbath, the Black Sabbath tribute band fronted by Osbourne’s guitarist Zakk Wylde, will headline a second stage outside. “My hat goes off to him, to be honest with you, since he’s playing outside that time of year,” Osbourne says with a laugh. There will be two other yet-to-be-announced bands also playing that stage.
“Ozzy hates the holidays,” Sharon Osbourne, Ozzy’s wife and manager, tells Rolling Stone with a laugh. “He hates Christmas and he hates New Year’s Eve. He always saying, ‘Let’s do a gig.’ And I’m always like, ‘There never is one.’ So this year, we said, ‘All right, let’s do an Ozzfest, because we never did it this year.’ Everybody used to play on New Year’s and Christmas in the Seventies and Eighties, but not anymore. So it’s the perfect time.”
Tickets for the event go on sale this Friday at 10 a.m. PT via Live Nation. In addition to the performances, the Ozzfest will also feature other “holiday festivities,” which are yet to be announced.
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For Ozzy, who really does genuinely hate the holidays – he calls Christmas an “anticlimax” and a “shopaholic’s nightmare” in an interview (“It put me in a bad headspace as a child,” he says) – it’s a welcome distraction and it’s an excuse to get back into performing. It also helps that he’s doing so with a bunch of Ozzfest alumni he respects.
“Rob Zombie is a great entertainer,” he says. “We get on really well. On the Ozzfest over the years, there’s always some guy who ain’t playing the game, but Rob Zombie’s always been great.”
He has similarly kind words for Jonathan Davis (“He’s great,” Ozzy exclaims) and Marilyn Manson. Regarding the latter, Osbourne says he feels a special kinship since both artists have sparked controversy over the years. When Manson was on the Ozzfest in 2001, a few years after the Columbine shooting, some people protested the concerts, wrongly blaming Manson for influencing the students.
“They always blame rock & roll,” Ozzy says. “They always blame me or Rob or Marilyn or whoever. Looking at it on the lighter side, it wouldn’t be a very fucking wise career move if we ran around telling people to kill themselves, because we probably wouldn’t sell anything.” He laughs. “I had all that. I had people protesting ‘Paranoid,’ and [biting the heads off] the bat and the fucking dove and people called me the antichrist and there was all that ‘Prince of Darkness’ shit going around. But Marilyn is an artist. Have you ever seen his paintings? They’re fucking unbelievable.”
With a few months to go until the Ozzfest, Osbourne plans on resting up to get back into fighting shape. He told Rolling Stone that he’s currently about “85 to 90 percent better” after undergoing surgery on his right hand, where he had contracted three potentially deadly staph infections. “They cut all this stuff out of my thumb,” he said. “Even with the numbing stuff, it was agony.” Ultimately, the whole experience made him eager to get back on the road. “It could have been a lot worse,” he said. “I could have been dead.”