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Ozzy Says He'll Always Be Involved With Ozzfest Some Way (7/14/2006)

Ozzy Osbourne thought 10 Ozzfests were enough. He'd reached his limit. And so, before last year's Ozzfest the heavy-metal festival's 10th rendition concluded, Osbourne announced he'd be retiring from his namesake tour. He'd also be taking a break from the road for a while.

But here he is, standing at the foot of Ozzfest's main stage with the launch of this year's Ozzfest just 48 hours away. The music icon's surveying things inspecting the lights, the monitors, the positioning of the amplifiers. In about 20 minutes, he'll be joined onstage by guitarist Zakk Wylde, drummer Mike Bordin and bassist Blasko for his first official Ozzfest rehearsal.

"I wanted to retire," he insisted. "But that lasted half a year. I was bored to death, and I wanted to come back on the road again. I'm not complaining about it, but the downside [to doing Ozzfest] is I never get a chance to go on vacation. Whenever we do go on vacation, it's winter. So this year, I tried to get off the Ozzfest, and [my wife and the festival's architect] Sharon said, 'OK.' But then one guy spoke to one guy and said it wouldn't be Ozzfest if Ozzy isn't there. So [we compromised]. Sharon's idea was to do a couple of headliners on the second stage, and I said, 'That's great. It's right in the midst of the audience.' "

This summer's Ozzfest, which wraps up August 13 in West Palm Beach, Florida, will make stops in 27 cities, with Osbourne scheduled to take the stage for 13 of them four mainstage appearances and nine on the tour's smaller second stage. But might this as the rumor mill suggests be Ozzy's last Ozzfest?

"I will always be involved in it in some way, as long as it carries along and as long as I'm alive," he said. "It's my wife and I's creation. People say to me, 'What's the trick? How do you do it?' And I can't answer that question. I'm just so grateful and happy [the fans] come out to see the show."

Talking to Ozzy, you get the sense that, after 11 years, he's sort of astounded at Ozzfest's mammoth growth. It has become an unstoppable force, surviving while other festivals have come and gone.

"I can't believe it's been 11 years," he said, reflecting on the tour's tradition. "I couldn't believe it was 10 years. You know, every year, I ask my wife, 'How long do you think this is going to go on for?' But it's out of my control now, and it's rolling along on its own. You know, I can't call this work. I love it. What I'm really happy about, what has happened from Ozzfest, is it's been a great diving board for other bands. I mean, Korn, System of a Down the list goes on and on. And that's what my job is: to keep the machine rolling."

After this year's Ozzfest, Osbourne plans to start working on his 15th solo LP his first record's worth of original compositions in five years. "We just started working on some ideas, Zakk and the boys," he explained. "We're putting a bunch of ideas together, and Zakk's playing is just unbelievable. His new album [Shot to Hell, which hits stores September 19] is fantastic. It is going to blow everything else off the face of the world. So when we finish Ozzfest, I'm going to start writing. It's going to be the first one I've written and recorded sober. That's weird. The one thing about having a swift drink is it gets the old imagination going, you know?"

Ozzy's mindset going into the sessions is a positive one, he said. "I'm 57 years of age, and I never thought I'd live this long," he joked. "I think I'm the luckiest man in the world. I've survived, both physically and professionally ... I think."


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