This article is from the The Osbourne FAQ, by Mike L. with numerous contributions by others.
After the release of Ozzmosis in 1995, Ozzy was ready to return to the
music scene after his hiatus. Sharon, his wife and manager had tried
unsuccessfully to have Ozzy become an addition to Lollapolooza. She
was turned down, because Lollapolooza organizers felt Ozzy was old and
not quite the fresh face they were seeking. So in a moment of anger
she decided she'd simply start her own. It would be called Ozzfest.
After ironing out the details, a trial run of The Ozzfest debuted in
1996 with the following bands: Ozzy Osbourne (headliner), Danzig,
Slayer, Sepultura, Prong, Biohazard and Fear Factory. They did two
gigs in October 1996 which were a large success."The Ozzfest Live" was
recorded OCtober 26th during this trial run.
One of the appealing aspects of Ozzfest is that in addition to the
main stage, there was also a smaller stage for lesser known
bands. Sharon allowed up and coming talent to make a name for
themselves including such bands as Coal Chamber, Powerman 5000 and
Then 1997 saw the full blown Ozzfest festival, 1996's trial run having
showed a definite interest. It featured Black Sabbath (headliner),
Marilyn Manson, Pantera, Type O Negative, Fear Factory, Machine Head
and Powerman 5000 on the main stage. The second stage featured
Downset, Neurosis, Slo Burn, Coal Chamber, Drain STH and Vision of
Disorder. Bill Ward complained to the media that we wasn't asked to
appear on behalf of Black Sabbath.
Sharon's response: "Bill was not asked to play on this bill due to
inter-personal business conflicts between himself, me and Ozzy. It is
a private issue that we have kept private out of respect to Bill. If
Bill doesn't understand that we are only trying to protect him, we
will announce the reason why he wasn't asked to do this tour."
The festival was a carnival of sorts where a person could also get
tattoos or piercings done. The largest complaint about the Ozzfest are
the prices. Vendors gouge customers because no outside food is
allowed. Bottled water for $2 or $15 for fish and chips and a drink.
Ozzy and Manson filed suit against New Jersey Sports and Exhibition
Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. They refused to put Ozzfest
tickets on sale unless Marilin Manson was taken off the bill. In May,
the Meadowlands decided to allow tickets to sell and was considered
appealing a judge's decision.
Fans are able to purchase bottled water "Blessed" by Ozzy himself for
the mere price of $2.75 each.
Ozzy's voice seemed to give out at the Ozzfest gig in the New Jersey
Meadowlands, so he cancelled his show for the Polaris Amphitheater in
Columbus, Ohio which was two days later. Understanding and
compassionate fans uprooted trees, overturned a car, lit fires and
tore down fencing. 23 fans were arrested. Ozzy would make up for the
cancellation on July 1st.
The Ozzfest grossed around $600,000 per show. (Ed: Probably from all
of the food sales). With the Ozzfest tour over for 1997, Ozzy and
Sharon released "The Ozzman Cometh" which featured some of his
greatest hits and the release of some "basement tapes" Ozzy had found
while cleaning house. They included rare versions of "War Pigs,"
"Black Sabbath," "Fairies Wear Boots," and "Behind the Wall of Sleep".
Ozzfest beat out Lollapolooza for gross profits, ironic since
Lollapolooza refused to have Ozzy as part of their tour.
Having seen Black Sabbath and Ozzy playing on tour, fans were
wondering about the possibility of a studio album. The last album
recorded with all four original members of Black Sabbath was in
1978. On December 4th and 5th the original members of Black Sabbath
reunited to play at the NEC in their hometown of Birmingham,
England. The shows were recorded for possible release in the
future. The band announced they would be returning to the studio to
record new material!