GEEZER BUTLER Reflects On ROB HALFORD's 2004 Performance With BLACK SABBATH: 'It Started Off Not Very Well'
June 8, 2023
JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford joined SABBATH for two gigs to support Ozzy Osbourne on his last shows for the "No More Tours" tour in November 1992 in Costa Mesa, California after SABBATH's singer at the time, Ronnie James Dio, refused to take the stage. Rob also performed with SABBATH members Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward on August 26, 2004 at the Camden, New Jersey stop of Ozzfest after Ozzy came down with an "attack of bronchitis" and was unable to take part in the concert.
Butler reflected on Halford's 2004 appearance with SABBATH in a new interview with 107.7 RKR's "Rocker Morning Show". He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "It was great. Rob's from the same area as the four of us. And Tony actually used to manage the first version of JUDAS PRIEST. So we all knew each other from the early '70s. And Rob knew all the lyrics to the SABBATH stuff. And when Ozzy got ill, JUDAS PRIEST were on the same bill as us, and we sort of asked Rob if he wouldn't mind coming on and filling in for Ozzy. He was a bit reluctant, in case he blew his voice out. But then he agreed. And it went great."
Asked what the reception was like from the audience at the Ozzfest gig, Butler said: "Well, it started off not very well, 'cause everybody's expecting Ozzy, and then there's Rob Halford coming on. And then after the first song, everybody accepted us. They didn't really know what was going on. Why is Rob Halford singing with BLACK SABBATH instead of Ozzy? And then I think he explained everything after the first song. And then the audience got it. And [it was] a good gig after that."
Three months ago, Halford told SiriusXM's Ozzy's Boneyard host Mark Strigl about his performances with SABBATH: "The first time was in Costa Mesa, in California. I can't remember when. I do know there's an amazing video of the whole show on YouTube somewhere, which sounds good and looks good. That's a great memory.
"How that happened was… You know, when Ronnie — God bless you, Ronnie — was working with SABBATH, and there was an opportunity for the band to do a little bit of a reunion at that show in Costa Mesa with Ozzy, Ronnie said, 'I'm just gonna step aside for personal reasons.' So he did," Rob explained. "And then I get a call from Tony, 'Can you come and help us out?' 'Yeah, what do you want me to do?' Blah blah blah. We talked about the setlist. We put a couple of songs in there that SABBATH hadn't done forever, 'cause they were my favorites and I thought the fans would love 'em. And then the next minute we're doing two shows. We have a bit of a blast in the studio here in Phoenix, bang out the set, and the next day we're playing two sold-out shows in Costa Mesa. So that was amazing.
"And then you go forward. And this is just what we do for each other in bands. Ozzy wasn't feeling too well with his throat, and I get a phone call from Sharon [Ozzy's wife and manager]… And the same deal. 'He's got this bronchitis thing. Can you step in for the show? 'Yeah, sure. Which one?' 'Tonight.' I'm, like, 'Tonight?' 'Yeah. Can you do the show tonight?' So I did. I did the PRIEST set, had a shower, got changed, ran out and did the Ozzy thing with SABBATH. So that's happened two or three times.
"That's what we do, man. We love each other.
"PRIEST and SABBATH go back forever," Halford added. "And so we still have this beautiful friendship and relationship that's endured within and without the music. PRIEST and SABBATH, we started it all."
In a 2005 interview with Revolver, Iommi stated about Rob's performance with SABBATH at the 2004 Ozzfest: "At first we were worried, because people expect Ozzy, but if Rob hadn't helped us out, there wouldn't have been a show at all. When our manager told me Ozzy had bronchitis and couldn't sing, he asked me what I thought about Rob doing it. I said, 'I think it's a good idea as long as you tell everybody beforehand so they know.' Of course, they told the audience right before we went onstage, so I thought, 'Oh, no.' But the crowd received him really well."
Dio replaced Osbourne in BLACK SABBATH in 1980, recording the "Heaven And Hell" and "Mob Rules" albums, plus "Live Evil", before leaving in 1982. He rejoined the group 10 years later for an album called "Dehumanizer", and again teamed with the group under the HEAVEN & HELL banner in 2006. HEAVEN & HELL released an album called "The Devil You Know" in 2009.
Ronnie passed away of stomach cancer on May 16, 2010 at the age of 67.
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