We here at The Pit would be hard-pressed to find a cooler metal festival lineup than what transpired back at Ozzfest in 1997. Ozzy solo and a Black Sabbath reunion set, Pantera, Type O Negative, Marilyn Manson, Machine Head, Fear Factory, Neurosis, Downset, Vision Of Disorder, Coal Chamber, and more. Hot diggity damn.
The tour was the stuff of legend for many reasons, but one of its most infamous moments was the day that Ozzy got sick in Columbus, Ohio and his team recruited a who’s who of metal stars from the tour to try to salvage the sets, rather than cancel outright.
Some of the specifics are a bit lost to the sands of time, but from Robb Flynn of Machine Head’s own journaling (plus online comments from some fans that were there to witness it all), the lineup on the song seems to have been Ozzy’s solo backing band plus Marilyn Manson on lead vocals (propped up the whole time literally on Type O Negative mastermind Peter Steele’s shoulders), and Robb Flynn on backup vocals.
Phil Anselmo played the role of “MC”, introducing the band and then later going on to sing “I Don’t Know” before the whole thing fell apart and the arena literally erupted into a full-scale riot from angry fans who finally realized that they would not be seeing Ozzy or Sabbath that evening.
You can listen to the song below, but first, here’s the full account of how it all went down according to Robb Flynn:
Ozzy Got Sick and His Team Started Recruiting Members of the Ozzfest Touring Lineup:
“At one point on that tour, Ozzy got sick and lost his voice. That whole day was nothing but talk that they (Ozzy’s camp) might have to cancel the 2 sets and they were (rightfully) scared of a riot. Around the time of the tour, I had become friends with Phil Anselmo and we’d drink and hang out before and after their show in his dressing room, which was separate from the other guys.
So Anselmo and I are hanging in the hallway after their set, during Manson’s set, and one of the Ozzy people comes up to Phil and says, “You know Ozzy’s lost his voice and it looks like we’re gonna have to cancel the show. But we were wondering if you’d like to get up there, and you and Marilyn Manson go up and sing with Ozzy’s band so we don’t have any… ummm… issues… would you be up for it?”
Anselmo looks at the dude and in that classic Anselmo baritone voice says, “The only way I’ll do it, is if Flynn here does it with me!” Yeah… exactly…my jaw hit to the floor.
If I didn’t already have a full-on and thinly-disguised Man-Crush on Anselmo by that point, I was pretty much ready to drop to my knees and perform fellatio on the dude! So despite all the strength I could muster, like some fucking Heavy Metal Star Wars tractor beam my hand magnetically reached over and fondled his balls for him.
It was the least I could do, right? But yeah, it was a completely surreal turn of events. Anselmo and I head into the Ozzy band dressing room and begin talking with Robert Trujillo, Mike Bordin, and guitarist Joe Holmes about what “Ozzy songs” Phil and I are going to “sing” with “them” tonight.
How Marilyn Manson Got Involved to Sing for Ozzy Osbourne:
I pick “Crazy Train,” Phil picks “I Don’t Know,” and just then Marilyn Manson wanders in. He wants to do “Crazy Train” as well. Now…I’ve already staked my claim… and I’m not giving it up for nothing! So Marilyn Manson agreed to share it and we decide we’ll do a “duet.” Surprisingly, not a lot of the singers knew the Ozzy back catalog very well so I volunteered to duet with several of them to help to fill-in-the-blanks. Now keep in mind I’ve been drinking for the last 4 hours and I’m well buzzed and if the night wasn’t crazy enough… shit was about to get batty.
I did that duet with Manson on ”Crazy Train”, did backups on “I Don’t Know” with Anselmo doing lead vox, sang with a bunch of other guys including Peter Steele and Burton C Bell, and ended the set with a thoroughly wasted Dimebag and I in an arm-around-shoulders-hammered version of “Bark At The Moon” well…I sang a lot of it while Dime…well…he howled and barked a lot!
But it was Dime and my rather… uh… salubrious performance that the crowd turned… after our “performance” the crowd was like, “uh… where the fuck is Ozzy?” The mic was handed to Anselmo who was given the rather unfortunate task of breaking the bad news to the crowd… 20,000 people began to “BOOOOO” and promptly reigned beer cups down on the stage. A few minutes later a full scale riot was happening in good ol’ Columbus Ohio.
They lit the entire back fence of the amphitheater on fire, turned over police cars, Christ they tried to pull down the entire PA! We all hid on our bus watching the NEWS of the riot happening outside of our bus doors.”