From Sabbath to Slipknot: A complete history of Ozzfest

(Image credit: Mick Hutson/Redferns, Lyle A. Waisman/FilmMagic, Kevin Mazur/WireImage, Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images, Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

It's all thanks to Lollapalooza that Ozzfest happened at all. In 1995, Sharon Osbourne had tried to persuade the alt-rock shindig's organisers to put Ozzy on the bill for their travelling festival. They rejected the idea, believing the Prince Of Darkness lacked the necessary relevance and cool factor to be part of their bill. Undeterred, and with that typical forthright vision that has made her a great manager for so long, Sharon determined that if Ozzy wasn't to be part of Lollapalooza, then the pair of them would create their own version instead. 

And so Ozzfest was born. Said Sharon at the time: "I just thought, 'Fuck them.' If Lollapalooza wasn't able to see what Ozzy could give them, then we'd come up with our own metal version, only better."

But Ozzfest wasn't just about giving Ozzy his own platform for promotion: the festival would also position Ozzy in his rightful place as the Godfather of Metal, at a time when a whole new generation of metal bands were coming through. Nu metal was emerging and ready to explode, and for the first time since the 1980s, there was a genuine belief that the genre was about to enjoy another electrifying phase of creativity. 

Deservedly, Black Sabbath were regarded as one of the primary influences upon this new generation, and with his hugely successful solo career, Ozzy had long since eclipsed his former group in terms of fame and celebrity. Ozzfest wasn't just to reinforce Ozzy's importance within metal, but also to introduce the Prince Of Darkness and his music to a new, younger audience. So the bill for the inaugural Ozzfest had to be carefully selected. It wasn't just about selling tickets – although that was a factor – but also to ensure that the whole span and scope of metal at that time was reflected, in all of its gory glory. 

Metal Hammer line break

1996 – In The Beginning... 

There were to be two stages, with the second one dedicated to young bands starting to make their mark. The main stage was, naturally, headlined by Ozzy himself. The rest of the bill represented the cream of that era of metal, including Slayer, Danzig and Sepultura.

“Just to be asked to be part of this event was a huge honour,” said Sepultura frontman Max Cavalera back in 1996. “We are all huge fans of Ozzy, and to share the stage with him is a dream. But we understand how important Ozzfest could be. There’s Lollapalooza, which caters for the alternative scene. But this is about giving metal a voice and a stage.”

There had been earlier attempts at organising such an event – 1988 saw the Monsters Of Rock festival tour across America, but that only showcased major names like Van Halen and Metallica. Here was the opportunity to bring the entire metal community together.

The second stage gave exposure to a raft of developing talents from the prog metal of Neurosis, to the hardcore approach of Earth Crisis, and the muscular nu metal melee of Coal Chamber.

Perhaps more than any other group on the bill, Coal Chamber represented the coming storm. Nu metal was definitely reinventing the wheel, and Dez Fafara and the band were right at the cutting edge of it all.

“That was such a huge breakthrough for us,” recalled vocalist Fafara a few years later. “You don’t get many chances to be make history. So we were privileged to be part of the very first Ozzfest.”

Sharon Osbourne was so impressed with Coal Chamber that she actually took them on for management.

The inaugural Ozzfest wasn’t yet the roving circus it would later become: on October 25, Ozzfest debuted in Phoenix, Arizona, and the next day relocated to Devore in California. And that was it. The Osbournes were testing the waters, seeing whether there was enough demand for such an extravaganza, and whether it could become an annual event.

The response was overwhelmingly positive: the fans loved it, the bands loved it. This was a coming together of the metal tribes, in all their guises.

For Ozzy, it was a turning point in his career. No longer just the legend, now he was guiding the next generation. He seized the moment, and almost overnight was transformed into the man who represented the past, present and future of metal. Such was the success of the 1996 event that any doubts were swept away. As America clamoured for more, so Ozzfest prepared to become the touring circus we know today.

1996 Line-up


Ozzy Osbourne • Slayer • Biohazard • Sepultura • Fear Factory • Narcotic Gypsy


Neurosis • Earth Crisis • Powerman 5000 • Coal Chamber • Cellophane

Metal Hammer line break

1997 – Kicking Against The Pricks


Ozzy Osbourne performing with Black Sabbath at Ozzfest 1997 (Image credit: Getty, Photo by Mick Hutson/Redfern)

In many ways, this was the year when Ozzfest truly got going. While there were only two dates the previous year, this time there were no less than 21 shows, running from May 24 to June 29. And this time the headliners were the reunited Black Sabbath.

The announcement that Ozzy was rejoining his old pals Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler for the Ozzfest tour was greeted with much excitement. Unfortunately, due to a prior commitment, original drummer Bill Ward couldn’t take part, so Mike ‘Puffy’ Bordin (former Faith No More sticksman and a member of Ozzy’s solo band) stepped in. But this was effectively the first time (most of) the classic Sabbath line-up had got together since their 1985 Live Aid performance in Philadelphia.

Also on the bill was Marilyn Manson, who joined for the second half of the tour. Having just released the Antichrist Superstar album, Manson was riding high on the back of its commercial success, particular breakthrough single The Beautiful People, but was already courting controversy. With Congressional hearings organised in America to determine the effect of violent lyrics on fans, Manson and his band were described by Senator Joseph Lieberman as “Perhaps the sickest group ever promoted by a mainstream record company”.

Almost every gig Manson played at the time was picketed by religious organisations. The band’s profile was enormous, but they also invited confrontations with the authorities, and the New Jersey date of the 1997 Ozzfest almost fell victim to the furore raised by the moralising protestors.

In April 1997, fans queued to buy tickets for Ozzfest at Giants Stadium in New Jersey, only to be told by the stadium’s owners that there would be no show at the venue as long as Manson remained on the bill. But, taking a typically determined stance, Sharon and Ozzy refused to remove the band from the bill. Moreover, they took legal action and won. So the gig went ahead as planned, with Marilyn Manson in place.

But this didn’t signal the end of the controversy on this tour. When the Ozzfest rolled into Columbus, Ohio on June 17, fans were shocked to find out that neither Black Sabbath nor Ozzy were to play, not least as this was only announced nine hours after the gates had opened. This is an eyewitness report from the time, as told to a news agency:

“When one of the band members (Phil Anselmo) announced that Ozzy wasn’t here, the guys ran to the fence and started tearing it down. All of a sudden bonfires broke out on the lawn and people were setting seats on fire, setting the wall on fire, and I work here... not tonight. But I’m going to have to clean up all of this stuff up tomorrow."

“They were just trashing the place ‘cause everybody’s angry,” another fan said, summing up the rioters’ frustrations. “We need our money back because we didn’t get our concert.”

In the end, five people were treated for minor injuries, 23 people were arrested and one person was eventually charged with disorderly conduct. In an attempt to cover for the absent Ozzy and Sabbath, members of Pantera, Marilyn Manson, Type O Negative and Fear Factory got together for an impromptu Ozzy tribute set. It lasted about 35 minutes, with a setlist including Crazy Train, Mr Crowley, I Don’t Know, Bark At The Moon and Suicide Solution.

In the end, Sabbath and Ozzy returned to Columbus on July 1, to make it up to the fans who’d been disappointed two weeks earlier. Ozzy had been too sick to perform at the Ozzfest on June 17, but it had been left to the last minute before the decision was made to cancel his performance, in the hope that he might make a sufficient recovery.

For the most part, though, the 1997 Ozzfest went smoothly, and once again the festival reflected and championed what was happening in the metal world at the time, including – shock horror – Drain STH, a band made up solely of women. A quick look at the still overwhelmingly male line-ups churned out by rock and metal festivals year after year should give some indication of why that felt like a vaguely big deal at the time.

Overall, the decision to take the event round America had proven an undeniable success, ironically just as Lollapalooza’s stock began to plummet.

1997 Line-up


Black Sabbath • Ozzy Osbourne • Marilyn Manson (From June 15) • Pantera  • Type O Negative • Fear Factory • Machine Head • Powerman 5000


Coal Chamber • Slo Burn • Drain STH • Downset • Neurosis • Vision of Disorder

Metal Hammer line break

1998 – Bringing The Heavy Shit


Ozzy at the Milton Keynes Bowl (Image credit: Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images)

This was the year that the Ozzfest went international. For the first time, there was a date outside of America, at the Milton Keynes Bowl on June 20, two weeks before the tour kicked off in the United States.

The bill in the UK differed from the one that would wander the US, with Sabbath headlining (Ozzy headlined the US tour as a solo act). But this first chance for British fans to savour the atmosphere of an Ozzfest was a major success, with a bill that reflected not just the metal community, but also embraced the more commercial attitude of the Foo Fighters, and punk-rock upstarts Therapy?. There was even room on the second stage for young Brit industrial crew Pitchshifter. But controversy struck, with Korn announced as having pulled out of the gig on the day itself. This was firmly denied by the band, who insisted they’d actually withdrawn a week earlier, not at the last minute.

The bill at Milton Keynes reflected the scene as it was in the UK at the time. Things were in a state of flux, with some believing (wrongly) that the era of metal was over, and that the likes of Slayer and Soulfly represented a dying breed. However, the huge turnout told another, much more encouraging story: Ozzfest was crucial in proving that the metal community was in terrifically rude health, and that there was definitely something going on, both at the grassroots level and also in the mainstream.

“It was important for us to bring Ozzfest overseas,”said Ozzy himself at the time. “We’ve established this in America, and in doing so we’ve been able to give a lot of young acts the chance to play in front of big crowds. Now we can do the same elsewhere.”

“The chance to play on a bill with Black Sabbath was too big to pass up,”added Soulfly’s Max Cavalera. “I am fortunate to count Ozzy as a friend, but he’s also always been a hero to me.”

In America, the 18-date tour kicked off on July 3, ending on August 2. Over there, Ozzy was the headliner, with Motörhead somewhat surprisingly topping the bill on the second stage, rather than performing on the main one. “That’s the way it goes,” shrugged Lemmy. “But I’m not impressed with anyone on the main stage, apart from Sevendust. They’re very good.”

A closer look at the bill for this year’s festival proves Ozzfest was cannily in-sync with the cutting edge, giving young bands an important leg up, while also recognising bands who were about to make major inroads, such as Limp Bizkit and Incubus.

Fred Durst and company made something of a splash by playing on a stage set designed to resemble a giant toilet; it certainly made people sit up and take notice of what they were doing. They were on the cusp of huge success, and the reaction they got around the States nudged them firmly into the big time. Incubus were on the second stage and, as guitarist Mike Eiziger said at the time, one of the best things about being on a tour like this was that it gave bands a chance to get to know each other. “We knew Snot. We’ve known Snot for a long time. I was aware of System Of A Down but we’d never toured with them or really met any of them or anything like that. But they’re a great band and really nice guys, too.”

“The bands don’t conflict with each other on this tour,” added drummer Jose Pasillas. “Like on the Warped tour, you have a bunch of bands facing each other, playing at the same time. For this, the bands never overlap one another and it just seems very tight and very well organised.”

Veterans of previous Ozzfests, meanwhile, were treated to another in a series of hilarious video-taped messages introducing the festival, appearing in a number of goofy Hollywood-themed skits that depicted His Ozzness naked on a sinking Titanic, killing South Park’s Kenny and dancing the Riverdance, before finally stripping off á la The Full Monty. It was six minutes of total hilarity and mania, reflecting Ozzy’s sense of humour, as well as his ability to spoof anything without losing his own identity.

The Ozzfest had now become a crucial staple of the rock calendar, and this would prove a major boost for metal.

1998 Line-up 



Black Sabbath • Ozzy Osbourne • Foo Fighters • Pantera • Slayer • Fear Factory • Therapy?


Coal Chamber • Life Of Agony • Human Waste Project • (Hed) Pe • Entombed • Pitchshifter • 



Ozzy Osbourne • Tool • Megadeth • Limp Bizkit • Soulfly • Sevendust • Coal Chamber 


Motorhead • System Of A Down • Melvins • Incubus • Snot • Ultraspank • Life Of Agony • Kilgore • Monster Voodoo Machine

Metal Hammer line break

1999 – Nine Dudes In Masks? It'll Never Work... 


(Image credit: Press)

This was the year that a nine-man masked menace came from nowhere to make the sort of impact few could have predicted in advance.

That band were, of course, Slipknot, who’d not even released their self-titled debut album when they got the chance to play on the second stage at the Ozzfest, which kicked off on May 27, a month before Slipknot hit shelves. But there was a buzz and attitude about this lot that was getting them attention. They also had the right philosophy to appeal to the fans.

“We’re not about making money,” drummer Joey Jordison said when interviewed on the Ozzfest tour. “If you ever go onstage just for what you’re being paid, then you’ll be found out by the fans at Ozzfest. They know when you’re faking it, and there’s no way back. We’re doing it, because we love what we do.”

Slipknot joined the Ozzfest family as virtual unknowns, but left it on July 24 already on a massive surge to the front of the queue. They were about to become major players on the heavy metal scene – a position they retain to this day – and their stint on this high-profile touring heavy metal circus was a crucial step in their journey.

In all, there were 28 dates that year, making it the biggest Ozzfest yet. And there was now a definite formula to the way the bill was put together: established artists and virtual unknowns were thrust together, with as much care and attention being taken over the second stage as on the main one.

Black Sabbath once again headlined, but this time Ozzy didn’t precede them with his own solo set. Instead that slot was filled by Rob Zombie, who’d gone solo the previous year after disbanding White Zombie. System Of A Down (then comparative unknowns) opened the main stage, while among the bands on the second stage were Apartment 26, a young act fronted by Biff Butler, who’s dad was none other than Sabbath’s founding bassist Geezer.

As the decade/century/millennium reached its end, metal was gradually finding new heroes, ones who’d grown up through the Ozzfest ranks, and were ready to move further up the bill. However, there was also a smattering of older, more legendary names, such as Slayer, even if this year they were restricted to a 40-minute set (which was only 10 minutes longer than Slipknot had). But it was inevitable that, with so many bands playing – 17 across the two stages – some set lengths would have to be kept somewhat brief. It says much about the way Slipknot used their limited time that, by the end of the tour, they’d become one of the most talked about bands on the bill.

Director Penelope Spheeris, who’d directed the acclaimed 1988 rockumentary The Decline Of Western Civilization Part 2: The Metal Years (which included unforgettable and somewhat tragic footage of a then-boozing Ozzy struggling to cook breakfast while suffering the shakes) was hired to film what was initially pitched as a fictional movie based around the Ozzfest. But in the end, on Spheeris’ advice, everyone decided to go for a documentary approach. The Osbournes gave Spheeris total access, and were prepared to be shown warts and all – even allowing footage to be included of Ozzy reading Black Sabbath lyrics from a teleprompter.

The resultant documentary didn’t flinch from the realities of Ozzfest, but also featured some truly hilarious moments. One scene found Sharon Osbourne debating a ranting preacher on the radio, who claims that Sabbath promote homosexuality. Sharon retorts, “What’s wrong with homosexuality?”, to which he responds, “Haven’t you ever heard of anal fisting?”

You couldn’t make up moments like this, nor the fan who says he loves being in the mosh pit despite having leg braces and crutches. Footage of the bands was, of course, featured as well, but it’s the offstage documentary passages that made you realise this touring festival had a life of its own, and attracted the sort of characters whose passion was truly remarkable.

Unfortunately, legal issues led to the release of the DVD – titled We Sold Our Souls For Rock ‘N’ Roll – being delayed until 2001. But it did pick up an award as the Most Popular Documentary at the Melbourne International Film Festival in the year of its release, and is rightly regarded now as a fine rockumentary in its own right.

Sadly, there was to be no repeat visit to the UK in 1999, but this was to be just a temporary blip. All things considered, the Ozzfest was in good shape as we headed into a new millennium. After four years, it seemed inconceivable that there would be a summer without it. Despite ongoing protests from religious zealots, it was here to stay.

1999 Line-up


Black Sabbath • Rob Zombie • Deftones • Slayer • Primus (Featuring Buckethead) • Godsmack • System of a Down 


Fear Factory • Static-X • Slipknot • Hed(Pe) • Flashpoint • Shuvel • Pushmonkey • Drain STH • Apartment 26 • Puya

Metal Hammer line break

2000 – Welcome to the (nu metal) revolution

Welcome to the new world, to the revolution. Because as we entered the year 2000 it seemed that metal enjoyed a massive surge of energy and media attention. Those bands who had long threatened to do something special now started to deliver. Wherever you looked, it was the same – a sense of vibrancy and expectation. And this feeling was captured by the bill for Ozzfest this year. An impressive 29 dates were locked in for America, running from July 2 to September 2. The festival was a bigger draw than ever, with new names such as Disturbed, Queens Of The Stone Age and Black Label Society getting their shot.

Disturbed caught people’s attention straight away. How could they fail, with frontman David Draiman coming onstage in a straitjacket, and wearing a face mask that brought back memories of Hannibal Lecter? The fact that he needed to be helped out of the jacket by a roadie before he was free to blast into Stupify hardly spoiled the effect: even in sunshine – Disturbed weren’t high enough on the bill to play in darkness – the effect was startling, upgraded a notch when Draiman was zapped in an electric chair. It was less macabre Alice Cooper pantomime, more establishing an unsettling tension. But then Disturbed were never about theatrics – everything they did was for ‘real’.

Their experience at Ozzfest that year certainly made an impact on guitarist Dan Donegan. Later he would recall: “The last time I had any kind of... I wouldn’t say stage fright but I was just really star-struck when Ozzy Osbourne came out to watch our set. That is probably the last time I felt a little bit of nervousness, because to us he is the godfather of heavy metal. And in the two years that we played Ozzfest I’ve never seen him come out and watch any other band.”

Every year there seems to be one band who escapes the pack and go on to achieve major status, and in 2000 it was Disturbed’s time to shine. Queens Of The Stone Age were another band from this younger generation who enjoyed career assistance from Ozzfest at this time, although several years later, mainman Josh Homme would turn on the Ozzfest and its organisers with a biting, unforgiving attack on its whole ethos.

But we’ll go a little deeper into the ‘dialogue’ between Homme and Sharon Osbourne at the appropriate chronological moment. Back in 2000 QOTSA, then opening the main stage, were being given the chance to spread their colossal post-stoner riffage to the widest possible audience.

One of the more interesting selections on the bill were Methods Of Mayhem, fronted by Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee, the former Mr Pamela Anderson swapping his drum-kit for guitar and microphone. There had been a synergy between Ozzy and Mötley ever since the latter opened for the former on their first big US tour.

The metal scene was beginning to enjoy a resurgence of activity on the charts, with bands like Disturbed selling millions of records. A new generation of fans was now getting into the music, and Ozzfest offered kids the chance not only to see their heroes, but also check out newer bands they didn’t know, and witness at first hand the legends they’d only ever heard about or listened to on CD. This year saw Ozzy headline, with Pantera as special guests rocking the main stage.

But music wasn’t the only entertaining distraction Ozzfest had to offer in 2000, as the organisers and their corporate sponsors clubbed together to ensure no fans left the festival empty-handed. Realising that, for fans, metal is a lifestyle choice, a culture that’s about more than just the music, they cooked up a slew of synergistic promotions for the attendees.

The official Ozzfest website advised attendees to ‘GO TO ALL THE BOOTHS! There is free shit all over the place at Ozzfest, so check out EVERYTHING and see what you can get. Especially, the Hot Topic tent. They give you some nice sampler CDs. There are free stickers and stuff everywhere...’

The result was an avalanche of goodies offered to the fans, like Christmas come early with Ozzy playing Santa.

2000 Line-up


Ozzy Osbourne • Pantera • Godsmack • Static-x • Incubus • Methods of Mayhem • P.O.D. • Queens of the Stone Age (Not on the Bill From August 24-30) 


Soulfly • Kittie • Disturbed • Taproot • Slaves on Dope • Reveille • Shuvel • Primer 55 • The Deadlights • Pitchshifter • Pumpjack (Started on August 26) • Black Label Society (Started on August 26) • Apartment 26 (Started on August 4) 

Metal Hammer line break

2001 – ... A Metal Odyssey


Slipknot at Ozzfest 2001 (Image credit: J. Shearer/WireImage)

With any annual event, there are those years when everything slots into place with such remarkable grace that the synergy seems perfect in all respects. For the Ozzfest, 2001 was such a year.

The line-up for the American tour really did cover all the bases: there was the classic metal of Black Sabbath, the rap metal of Linkin Park and Papa Roach, the nu metal of Slipknot and Mudvayne, the funkier approach of Crazy Town, the full-on power of Black Label Society, the hardcore of Hatebreed and the industrial assault of American Head Charge and Godhead.

Everywhere you looked on the bill that year, there was talent and fire. Marilyn Manson – still a very controversial figure – was there to provide an extra frisson, while Slaves On Dope (signed to Ozzy and Sharon’s own label, Divine Recordings) had that commercial sensibility.

It had always been one of the main characteristics of the festival that, each year, it focused attention not only on the big names, but also on the hottest young talent around. Some of these names were virtual unknowns, and were suddenly being given a platform to make their name.

“It’s got very little to do with me,” Ozzy himself said at the time. “Sharon and my son Jack trawl the clubs, looking for the best young bands around. It’s thanks to them that Ozzfest continues to be right at the cutting edge.”

Unquestionably, one of 2001’s biggest successes was California’s Linkin Park. They’d come onto the tour as one of the rising leaders of the rap-metal genre. Their debut album Hybrid Theory had been released in October 2000, and sold consistently and well during the next year, getting close to the five million sales mark. So there was a real momentum and belief behind the band when they joined this tour, appearing fifth on the main stage.

They got a mixed reception from the Ozzfest hordes, some of whom thought that their more pop-ist approach to music took them too far away from what the festival should represent. However, their presence ensured that a new, younger audience was drawn to the event, kids who perhaps weren’t so engrossed in the underground scene, but got their rock fix from MTV and the radio. It’s here that the impact of bands like Linkin Park, bringing new blood into the scene, was vital. Ozzfest was never about pandering to the extremes of the genre: it embraced all forms of metal, and if it was to be a true reflection of the scene in all its colours and creeds, then bands like this lot had to be a part of it all.

At a time when the metal scene was withstanding much fragmentation, the success of the Linkins was invaluable in holding the middle ground together, and introducing many potential young fans to metal who might otherwise have found the whole scene more than a little daunting. And they were getting impressive reviews. One writer said of their performance in New Jersey: “Oh, how the kids loved Southern California rockers Linkin Park. Easily receiving the biggest response all night, the band launched into One Step Closer, while singers Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda took on tales of angst and rebellion that had the crowd standing on their seats with fists thrust in the air.”

Disturbed were another big success. Returning to the bill for a second successive year, they were initially put on the second stage. But, as guitarist Dan Lonegan pointed out, that soon changed:

“After the first show we were moved from headlining the second stage over to the main stage, because of the chaos and the turn out that came to the second stage. Sharon Osbourne and the rest of the Ozzfest camp had asked us, mainly for safety reasons, to move to the main stage. So that very next show, Ozzy and a few other bands came out to watch the set because everybody was curious as to why we got moved up to the main stage.”

The tour took in 32 shows, from June 8 to August 12, and was easily the biggest Ozzfest so far. And at the centre of it all was Ozzy himself, the man who now represented metal more than anyone else on the planet.

“I really don’t feel like the father of metal or rock, more like a big brother,” he said at the time. “And, of course, I’m really not proud of everybody who claims to be a fan and thinks I influenced them. I remember some terrible 80s pop bands who considered me their inspiration. By chance we were playing the same festival and that guy Limahl [of 80s pop group Kajagoogoo] wanted me to sign all his Sabbath albums. I told him to go and get lost! You can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your fans, unfortunately.”

But Ozzy was delighted to be able to introduce so much new music.

“I’m not so sure what’s so new about nu metal, but it’s cool. You can’t always reinvent the wheel and I’ve been around the block once or twice. So it’s not so new to me. But I really do like some of the new bands, the guys from Iowa, Slipknot. They’re really cool. I even like Papa Roach, even if they did cause a lot of trouble for us in New Jersey. Their singer really acted like an asshole. He was getting the audience really worked up, encouraging them to cause riots.

“The fans and the audience got out of hand and the cops cancelled the show. They fined him and since it was his fault – nobody else caused the incident – we did let him pay the fine out of his own pocket. I think it was fair, but he didn’t like it. So the next day he was bitching on stage about the fucking Ozzfest, even though he caused the trouble himself. We were really all pissed off about it but, hey, that’s the singer and his personality doesn’t make their sound and their music any worse.”

The Ozzfest also returned to the UK that year, with a date on May 26 at the Milton Keynes Bowl. The organisers had originally hoped to book Donington instead, which had last staged a Monsters Of Rock festival in 1996, but some Welsh rockers scuppered his plans, and Ozzy wasn’t impressed.

“We wanted to bring the Ozzfest to Donington, but the fucking Stereophonics had a clause in their contract which prevented anyone else from having a festival there. Fuck ‘em! We’ll return next year and have our next Ozzfest at Castle Donington.”

Milton Keynes seemed a more than suitable substitute for the UK Ozzfest – after all, it was where we’d all congregated three years earlier. Black Sabbath again headlined, with Slipknot and Tool as special guests. It says much for the way that the ‘Knot had taken hold of the UK scene that they were big enough to be second on the bill. Raging Speedhorn opened the main stage, giving the event a taste of British rock’n’roll, while Disturbed headlined the second stage, with Mudvayne another of the bands to play at both the UK and US Ozzfests. Again, the festival was a major triumph, keeping metal on the summer agenda over here, as well as in America.

The year ended with Ozzfest bigger than ever. A revolving main stage had been introduced to speeed up the changeover between artists, and there were now more acts involved than ever (25 bands took part in the US tour). Groups now clamoured to be part of this extravaganza, knowing that the exposure Ozzfest afforded could lead to a massive surge in popularity.

Moreover, the growing power and influence of the Ozzfest reflected the fact that metal itself was enjoying a veritable golden era, certainly in terms of sales and media attention. It’s arguable that, not since the mid-80s (or even earlier) had the genre enjoyed such a profile and success.

2001 Line-up 



Black Sabbath • Marilyn Manson • Slipknot • Papa Roach • Linkin Park • Disturbed • Crazy Town • Black Label Society 


Mudvayne • The Union Underground • Taproot • Systematic (Until July 13) • Godhead (Until June 30) • Drowning Pool • Spineshank (From July 3) • Hatebreed • Otep (Until July 13) • No One (From July 14) • Pressure -4-5 (From July 14) • American Head Charge • Pure Rubbish • Beautiful Creatures • Project Wyze (Only July 24) • Slaves on Dope (Only July 24) 



Black Sabbath • Slipknot • Tool • Papa Roach • Soulfly • (Hed)pe • Raging Speedhorn 


Disturbed • Amen • Mudvayne • Black Label Society • Pure Rubbish • Apartment 26 • Union Underground 

Metal Hammer line break

2002 – World Domination Begins 

Tragedy struck Ozzfest this year, when Drowning Pool vocalist Dave Williams was found dead on the band’s tour bus on August 14, a blow from which the band struggled to recover. And there might well have been a second tragedy at the UK Ozzfest that year, held at Donington, (as Ozzy had previously promised). Part of the lighting rig collapsed during System Of A Down’s set, nearly hitting drummer John Dolmayan, and injuring one of the band’s roadies. The incident forced System Of A Down to cut short their set, which was a particular shame as the multi-platinum success of the previous year’s Toxicity album had made the So-Cal metallers Ozzfest’s hottest attraction.

Apart from the UK Ozzfest, this year saw the event travel further afield, with shows in Germany, Austria, Poland, Ireland, Holland and Portugal; for the first time, Ozzfest was now a truly international phenomenon. In America, there were 29 shows from July 6 to September 8, with Ozzy headlining the main stage, and Down bringing their reactivated southern style to top the second stage. Down’s appearance generated huge interest, marking the return to action of frontman Phil Anselmo, and proving that Down – who’d just released Down II: A Bustle In Your Hedgerow – were now a fully-functioning group, and not just an occasional side-project.

Once again, the Ozzfest was a true barometer of the metal scene. On the one hand there was the ultra technical ecstacy of Sweden’s Meshuggah, while on the other hand there was the party hard attitude of Andrew W.K. It all meshed together, because the fans were prepared to embrace it all.

Taking Ozzfest into the international arena also enabled the bill to welcome aboard local acts wherever it went, thereby cementing the fact that this was a community festival. But the number of bands on the bill did vary. In Antwerp, for instance, it was only three, while in America there were a total of 27.

There was also a live recording made at the festival this year, at the Boston show on July 16. The CD, Ozzfest 2002, was released in August that year, and featured songs from Ozzy, System Of A Down, Rob Zombie, Drowning Pool and Down among others.

2002 Line-up



Ozzy Osbourne • System of a Down • Rob Zombie • P.o.d. • Drowning Pool (Until August 13) • Tommy Lee (From August 15) 


Down • Hatebreed • Meshuggah • Soil • Flaw • 3rd Stroke • Pulse Ultra • Ill Nino • Andrew W.k. • Glassjaw • The Used • Switched • Otep • Lostprophets • The Apex Theory • Neurotica • Chevelle • Mushroomhead • Seether 



Ozzy Osbourne • System of a Down • Slayer • Lostprophets • Millencolin • Cradle of Filth • Drowning Pool • the Mad Capsule Markets • Black Label Society • Antiproduct 


Hundred Reasons • Ill Nino • Kittie • American Head Charge • Mushroomhead • Otep • Cyclefly • Hell Is for Heroes • Danko Jones • Flaw • Skindred • Nonpoint • Pulse Ultra 

Metal Hammer line break

2003 – Back In Black 


Jonathan Davis at Ozzfest 2003 (Image credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

After the international extravagances of the previous year, 2003 saw Ozzfest return to its roots, with only America included on the itinerary. In all, there were 28 dates, running from June 28 to August 28.

This year marked the first appearance on an Ozzfest bill of Korn, who were booked for the UK festival in 1998, but had ultimately cancelled. For many metal fans and observers, their presence at an Ozzfest was long overdue.

The band had, in their own right, become godfathers to a whole new generation of metal bands, inspired by the band’s 1994 self-titled debut. There’s little doubt that Korn’s presence gave Ozzfest 2003 a major boost.

British black metallers Cradle Of Filth were also on the bill, and frontman Dani Filth was clearly enjoying the benefits: “Ozzfest has been very good for us. We are not only currently selling over 3,000 CDs a week but making some great friends along the way”.

Mind you, Marilyn Manson wasn’t proving too accessible: “It’s ridiculous with Manson. About an hour before he is about to go on, nobody is allowed anywhere near him backstage. You can’t even go for a piss back there as he has it all cordoned off, for his supposed privacy. But I was around the site last week and saw what I thought was a really old man hobbling around using this walking stick. As he gets closer I see it’s Ozzy. But then you see him on stage and he is going fucking mental, chucking water everywhere and jumping around.”

Manson was again to be the centre of controversy, when the charabanc hit New York for a show on August 11 in Buffalo, upstate New York. The gig was booked into an amusement park and, said the venue’s owners, “Contractual agreement gives us the right to restrict artists from performing in our concert venue. We decided to pass on the Marilyn Manson performance.”

Such upsets aside, the Ozzfest remained the most enduring and successful of all touring festivals, attracting huge crowds and the best heavy rocking bands.

2003 Line-up


Ozzy Osbourne • Korn • Marilyn Manson • Disturbed • Chevelle • The Datsuns 


Cradle Of Filth • Voivod • Hotwire • Shadows Fall • Grade 8 • Twisted Method • Nothingface • Killswitch Engage • Unloco • Depswa • Motograter • Sworn Enemy • The Revolution Smile • Chimaira • Endo • Memento • E Town Concrete 

Metal Hammer line break

2004 – Judas Rising 

Rob Halford

Rob Halford at Ozzfest 2004 (Image credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

This was the year when the iconic Judas Priest returned to action, with vocalist Rob Halford back fronting the band, where he belonged. The reunion had begun in July the previous year (“We all together to discuss the Judas Priest boxset, Metalogy,” recalled Halford, “and before we knew it, I was back in the band. It was all done with such typical British understatement”), but was the Ozzfest that gave these revivified metal gods their first major exposure.

“It was like being on tour with old friends,” said Halford of those summer shows. “There we were, out there with Black Sabbath, who are a band we know so well. It was a fantastic way of reintroducing ourselves to the fans.”

It worked so well that many believe Priest were the true stars of the Ozzfest that year. In fact, they played the longest set of anyone on the bill, even though they weren’t actually the headliners. Without a new record to promote, the band just hammered out the classics to deafeningly positive response everywhere on the 25-date tour, which ran from July 12 to September 2 (there was supposed to be a 26th show on September 4, in West Palm Beach, but the arrival of Hurricane Frances put paid to that, and it was cancelled).

The successful integration of a band like Judas Priest into the Ozzfest line-up proved that the festival was now such a huge deal that even the biggest names in the metal community saw the logic in being a part of it all.

Not only were the band playing to old school fans, but also to many who had never seen them before, or at least not with Halford, who’d not performed with Judas Priest for over a decade. So, a reinforcement of the bond with fans who’d been there for years, and a powerful introduction for kids who’d only heard the legend, but never the music.

Once again, the Ozzfest had put together an incredibly strong line-up across two stages, with Sabbath, Priest and Slayer representing the old guard, while a whole string of bands were from the new school. Lamb Of God, Atreyu, Bleeding Through and Lacuna Coil represented a bold new generation ready to sweep through the metal world and leave a trail of punctured eardrums in their wake.

The second stage played host to a revolving line-up, where everyone got their chance to headline (and also took their turn to open). The latter meant going onstage as early 9.30am!

One of the most intriguing names on the main stage were Norwegians Dimmu Borgir. Following on from pioneers Cradle Of Filth the previous year, they were the second black metal band to appear on the bill. Vocalist Dani Filth said of the experience three years later:

“It was kind of a good experience in a way that we sell more records in the States now than we did before. In that sense, it was very good, but I think it’s unhealthy to be on the road for that long. Basically we had shows on Ozzfest on every second day, and we had headlining shows inbetween. When you’ve got so much every day it can become boring and you end up hating each other. I think it was a good thing for us, but I don’t think we will do Ozzfest again.”

It was a common complaint. Bands were booking their own club shows inbetween Ozzfest appearances as a matter of course by now, as every group tried to maximize the exposure and revenue that could be garnered from being on the road with such a massive travelling circus for so long.

One other event stood out this year. On August 25, when Ozzfest was in Camden, New Jersey, Ozzy was unable to perform with Black Sabbath, as he was suffering from bronchitis. Instead of cancelling their appearance, the band asked Halford to step in as the vocalist – The Prince Of Darkness replaced by the Metal God – in a move that seemed perfectly appropriate. It was, after all, the third time that Halford had fronted Sabbath, having done it in November 1992 for two shows at the Costa Mesa Amphitheatre in California, when Sabbath opened for Ozzy and then-frontman Ronnie James Dio refused the honour of performing, believing it undignified for the group to support their old vocalist.

This, however, was a different situation entirely. The day after his 53rd birthday, Halford led the original Sabs through a classic set. They only performed eight songs, but it was memorable enough for the Judas Priest singer.

“Being a huge Black Sabbath fan, it was just an ultimate moment for me,” Halford said. 

2004 Line-up


Black Sabbath • Judas Priest • Slayer • Dimmu Borgir • Superjoint Ritual • Black Label Society 


Slipknot • Hatebreed • Lamb of God • Atreyu • Bleeding Through • Lacuna Coil • Every Time I Die • Unearth • God Forbid • Otep • Devildriver • Magna-fi • Throwdown• Darkest Hour 

Metal Hammer line break

2005 – The Great Maiden Controversy

Iron Maiden

Bruce Dickinson at Ozzfest 2005 (Image credit: Getty/Theo Wargo/WireImage)

It seemed like such a great idea at the time, celebrating the 10th anniversary of Ozzfest by adding Iron Maiden to the bill. Things had worked out so well with Judas Priest the previous year, so why not give the fans the chance to see another of the true masters of metal, as special guests to headliners Black Sabbath?

But it was all to go spectacularly wrong. On the last night of Maiden’s contracted appearance – August 20, in San Bernardino, California – the band’s set was sabotaged by Sharon Osbourne.

Not only did she mess with their sound, but she and daughter Kelly (plus some 200 kids hired especially for this occasion) went out into the crowd and, protected by security, hurled eggs at vocalist Bruce Dickinson.

This was all in revenge for what Sharon perceived as the frontman’s insulting behaviour to Ozzy and Ozzfest.

She later explained, of Maiden: “The band are actually really nice guys, but the singer has a chip on his shoulder... He never once thanked us for the tour. People don’t behave like that. I tell you, though. This guy got the singer with a fucking egg right in the middle of his brow — what a star!”

Sharon would also go on to claim that Maiden bassist Steve Harris had personally apologised to her for Dickinson’s behaviour on the tour, which allegedly including publicly slagging off Ozzy from the stage every night.

Harris himself responded: “What I said was that, if we had anything to apologise for then we would. But we did not!”

Maiden manager Rod Smallwood issued a statement saying: “In 30 years in this business... I have never seen anything anywhere near as disgusting and unprofessional as what went on that night.”

And just to complete the picture, Ozzy himself had something to add: “I had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with what went down, because I do not condone any of that kind of crap. Even though the singer was saying bad things, so I heard, I never heard it ‘cause I’d never went and seen them”.

It’s a great disappointment that the 10th Ozzfest is, in many minds, remembered more for this one incident, than for the fine performances turned in by everyone during the tour, which lasted 27 shows from July 15 to September 4. Once again, Ozzfest had succeeded in putting together a compulsive bill, with Velvet Revolver replacing Maiden for the last leg.

There was another innovation; MTV had screened the reality TV show, Battle For Ozzfest in the Autumn of 2004, where eight bands battled for the right to play on the second stage for the following year’s festival, with the winners being decided by viewer’s votes. A Dozen Furies won the contest and, in addition to appearing at Ozzfest, also got $65,000 in cash and gear, plus a deal with Sanctuary Records.

Certainly, Massachusetts metallers Shadows Fall enjoyed their time on this US Ozzfest tour. Vocalist Brian Fair was delighted with the band’s plum slot on the main stage.

“Two years ago, we had the greatest time being on the second stage. It was so cool. But we’re now enjoying life on the bigger stage. At least we don’t have to wake up at 7am to be onstage two hours later.”

The spectre of Dimebag Darrell’s tragic death the previous December hung heavy over the tour. “Every night we get a shot of whiskey during a set,” said Fair. “And we raise a glass to his memory onstage.”

The Ozzfest also returned to the UK, again appearing at the Download Festival at Donington, where it was agreed that the main stage for the festival on June 11 (the middle day of the three-day event) would be handed over to the bands of Ozzfest.

So, it became a festival within a festival. It was the first and only time that the Download promoters have done such a thing, and also the sole occasion on which Ozzfest ever been a part of another, larger event.

The Ozzfest organizers (namely Sharon and Jack Osbourne) again proved their ability to introduce exciting fresh talent, with Atlanta’s progressive-thrash titans Mastodon being the pick of a top bunch. But the controversy over the Maiden egging incident, and the subsequent, very public fallout, tended to overshadow their efforts. It was a shame, because this bill was among the best ever assembled for an Ozzfest. 

2005 Line-up



Black Sabbath • Iron Maiden (Until August 20) • Mudvayne • Shadows Fall • Black Label Society • In Flames • Velvet Revolver (From August 23) • Slipknot • Drowning Pool 


Rob Zombie • Killswitch Engage • Asi Lay Dying • Mastodon • A Dozen Furies • The Haunted • Arch Enemy • The Black Dahlia Murder • Bury Your Dead • It Dies Today • Soilwork • Gizmachi • Wicked Wisdom • Trivium 



Black Sabbath • Velvet Revolver • HIM • Anthrax • A • Alter Bridge • The Mad Capsule Markets • The Dwarves • Trivium 

Metal Hammer line break

2006 – Vengeance Is Sweet 

Avenged Sevenfold

(Image credit: David Pomponio/FilmMagic)

This was the year that Avenged Sevenfold made the transition from the VANS Warped tour onto the Ozzfest, leaving behind their more punk and hardcore roots and finally accepted as a true metal band. Furthermore, they were a name on the rise, at rapid pace.

It wasn’t easy for them. Despite the success of major label debut City Of Evil the previous year, a lot of metalheads looked on the band as having little to do with the sort of music that Ozzfest promotes. So it was something of a battle to win over the fans. But, in the end the strength of Avenged Sevenfold’s music won over the majority. As one American reviewer put it: “There is so much unwarranted media and (ex) fan attention upon their image, change in sound, and more, that it really takes away from what matters – this band, and what they are creating. Avenged Sevenfold have really nailed heavy metal where it counts”.

“It’s tough being on Ozzfest,” admitted Avenged Sevenfold guitarist Synyster Gates at the time. “We have a lot of crazy guitar riffs and background harmonies. It’s a real melodic sound with a lot of guitar work. So it’s been tough to figure out just what we want to perform live, because we want to stay as close as possible to sounding just like the album. After our CD was released, we were kind of thrown to the wolves: We just had to get out there and do it.”

2006 was also the year that London’s own Dragonforce entertained the main stage with their dizzyingly high speed, technically- proficient power metal.

“It was a complete surprise for us to be asked to come on the Ozzfest tour,” said guitarist Herman Li at the time. “But it’s a great chance to get out there in front of the big crowds. And a lot of them know our songs already, which is amazing!”

That the bands left aside egos and bonded was one of the most encouraging aspects of Ozzfest. As Cristina Scabbia from Lacuna Coil said at the time, “It’s nice to be back on this festival, to see old friends and make new ones as well. That’s what Ozzfest is all about – promoting the family of metal.”

One oddity this year was Ozzy’s decision to balance his responsibilities as main-stage headliner with a number of shows on the smaller second stage. It was the sort of left-field thinking that many other travelling festivals lacked. It also gave Ozzy himself a different perspective on the event.

2006 Line-up


Ozzy Osbourne (Selected Dates) • System Of A Down • Disturbed • Avenged Sevenfold • Hatebreed • Lacuna Coil • Dragonforce


Ozzy Osbourne (Selected Dates) • Black Label Society • Atreyu • Unearth • Bleeding Through • Norma Jean 


A Life Once Lost • The Red Chord • Walls Of Jericho • Strapping Young Lad • All That Remains • Full Blown Chaos • Between The Buried And Me • Bad Acid Trip 

Metal Hammer line break

2007 – No Charge To Ride This Crazy Train 


Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne announce that Ozzfest 2007 will be free (Image credit: Getty/Jason Merritt/FilmMagic)

A free Ozzfest? Yes, that’s what was promised in 2007, with tickets given away via sponsors’ websites, the Ozzfest website, and to purchasers of Ozzy’s new album, Black Rain. But there were ticketing problems, due partly to people selling their tickets on eBay, and the organisers’ websites struggling to manage the deluge of ticket-seekers.

In addition, to facilitate the free giveaway of tickets, none of the bands on the bill were paid for their performances, encouraged to perform at the festival in exchange for the exposure it would afford. Queens Of The Stone Age mainman Josh Homme took vocal exception to this and launched a stinging attack on the organisation, accusing Sharon Osbourne of treating bands like shit, adding: “You’ll pay, and there will be only one person who will make any dough. And with the music industry the way it is with downloading, to ask artists to play for free... I might as well skip through the English countryside with a flute.”

QOTSA rejected the offer of a slot on the Ozzfest bill. Sharon, though, was not about to let this outburst pass unchallenged:

“I hope he gets syphilis and dies. I hope his dick fuckin’ falls off so his mother can eat it.” 

Despite this unsavoury exchange, Ozzfest 2007 proved to be a success, injecting new life into the franchise, not least thanks to an exceptionally strong bill. Homme might have had misgivings about touring for nothing, but a slew of top metal talent clearly didn’t share his doubts.

With Ozzy returning to headline, the second slot on the main stage went to Lamb Of God, who had suddenly emerged from the pack as a fresh and powerful new force in metal. They’d made their Ozzfest debut in 2004, on the second stage, but their progress had been rapid, leading to the release of The Sacrament album in 2006, which received a Grammy nomination the next year.

“It’s a little odd going from the second stage to the main one,” Lamb Of God frontman Randy Blythe said during the tour. “Most of our fans are on the grass at the back, and it’s hard to make contact with them. The seats at the front tend to be occupied by older people, waiting for Ozzy. I’ve got a few old ladies’ phone numbers”.

There was a tragedy on the tour, though, when two fans died at the show in Holmdel, New Jersey on August 16, from an overdose of alcohol and energy drinks. A further 83 people were arrested, mostly for underage drinking. This led to an immediate alcohol ban in the venue’s parking lot.

But, by and large, the 24 shows (running from July 12 to August 30), passed off without too much malign incident. And Ozzfest was still perceived as best representing the range of underground metal.

This was to be the last huge touring Ozzfest, for the time being at least. In 2008, a change was gonna come. 

2007 Line-up 


Ozzy Osbourne • Lamb of God • Static-x • Lordi (From August 10) • Black Tide 


Hatebreed • Behemoth • Nick Oliveri and Mondo Generator (July 12-22) • Devildriver (From August 2) 


Nile • Ankla • the Showdown • 3 Inches of Blood • Daath • in This Moment • Chthonic • Circus Diablo 

Metal Hammer line break

2008 – Metal Up Your Ass! 


Metallica at Ozzfest 2008 (Image credit: Gary Miller/FilmMagic)

Another major change for the Ozzfest: instead of going out on tour, the event took place over just one day–August 9, at the Pizza Hut Park in Dallas, Texas. Ozzy was involved, but it was Metallica who came in to headline.

This was the first time that neither Ozzy nor Black Sabbath had headlined: as far back as 2000, Ozzy had indicated that he planned at some point to retire from the Ozzfest, and let it take on a life of its own. This Ozzfest billed Metallica and Ozzy as the co- headliners, but it was the former who closed the show.

“We are going to be a stadium destination festival for now – we have gone past doing the shed every summer,” said Sharon Osbourne of the change in the Ozzfest format. “We’ve given everyone else the blueprint and we have to keep evolving Ozzfest. This is just the beginning,” she added. “I have a lot of new ideas for Ozzfest.”

One treat Metallica had in store for fans was a new song. They premiered Cyanide, a month before the release of the, Death Magnetic album.

“It’s a big honour for us to be able to do this,” said Kirk Hammett on the day. “We supported Ozzy in 1986 on the Master Of Puppets tour, so it was super-cool for us to be asked by Ozzy and Sharon to do this. But by the same token, it also feels weird. Ozzy’s one of our heroes, so for us to be going on after him is strange.”

Lars Ulrich added: “I’ve gone to a couple of Ozzfests. I think it’s been awesome. I mean, it’s such a great institution and it’s done so much for metal in the US. Ozzy and Sharon gave us our first big break in the US in 1986. I will always respect that. They’ve been great to us. So it’s cool. I’m psyched. Should be good fun.”

Metallica surprised everyone during their encore, by inviting King Diamond (a Dallas resident) onstage for a Mercyful Fate medley. This was just one of several special moments during the day, which also included a tribute to Dimebag Darrell, opening with a 90-second video presentation featuring the celebrated guitarist in his pomp. 

The list of musicians who joined in this tribute to Dimebag was impressive: Jerry Cantrell and Mike Inez (Alice In Chains), Scott Ian and Charlie Benante (Anthrax), Chad Gray (Mudvayne/Hellyeah), Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed), Bobzilla (Hellyeah), King Diamond, plus Ulrich and Hammett. Perhaps the most emotional moment came when Ian, Cantrell, Inez and Ulrich were joined by vocalist Pearl Aday for an acoustic version of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here.

“When we decided on Dallas as the site for this year’s Ozzfest, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to pay tribute to Dimebag Darrell since it was his hometown,” said Sharon Osbourne. “Dimebag was a part of our Ozzfest family, and everyone in the metal community misses him dearly.”

The general consensus was that Ozzfest 2008 had worked well. The introduction of the Texas stage, to allow young local talent the chance to play in front a huge crowd, proved a great success. There were even special solo sets from Serj Tankian and Jonathan Davis, who had both played the Ozzfest before with their respective bands (System Of A Down and Korn).

The Ozzfest has entered a new era, one which won’t see extensive touring, but selected dates.

2009’s Ozzfest was cancelled, so that Ozzy could concentrate on new album, Scream. What 2008 gave it was a fresh model. A new blueprint for the festival, as it hits its 15th year.

2008 Line-up 


Metallica • Ozzy Osbourne • Serj Tankian • Dimebag Tribute • Hellyeah • Jonathan Davis • Cavalera Conspiracy • Shadows Fall • Apocalyptica • In This Moment 


Sevendust • Devildriver • Kingdom of Sorrow • Soilent Gren • Witchcraft • Goatwhore 


The Sword • Drowning Pool • Rigor Mortis • The Destro • Within Chaos • Debris • Black Tooth 

Metal Hammer line break

2010 – Ozzfest Hits Israel... 

After the final touring Ozzfest in 2007, over a decade after it reared its head, Ozzfest has taken a backseat to many of the other festivals available to metal fans on both sides of the Atlantic. Still, it didn't put Ozzy off any.

If launching a metal festival in mid-90s North America seemed a bold move, taking said festival to Israel was fucking insane. Again, Ozzfest bucked the trend, holding a one-day show in Tel Aviv in 2010. First and foremost, there were security concerns given the relatively recent history of conflict throughout the region. Then, on a business level, who knew if this untapped market really gave two shits about a metal show? As it turned out, Ozzfest Israel was one in a long line of highlights for the fest.

“I had no idea what to expect,” says guitarist James ‘Munky’ Shaffer, whose band, Korn, sub-headlined for Ozzy. “That show was crazy. The crowd was huge and went nuts. I had no idea that it would be as great as it was. Just being in that part of the world, there’s a different energy over there. There are all of these religious beliefs at every angle. It felt like the spiritual centre of the Earth, and you could feel that clearly. I had a great time; it was a great experience. The Ozzfest guys did a great job.”

It’d be rude to go all that way and not take in the sights, right? Or at least top up your tan. “Everyone felt safe and secure, and we were able to explore a little bit,” says Munky. “Jonathan and Fieldy took a trip to Jerusalem. I chilled on the beach in Tel Aviv. That show was like a vacation. It was great that so many people in that part of the world could come together and enjoy music. They could sit back and forget about their differences for a day and enjoy some good rock music. Music can do that; music can be a real healer.”

Ozzfest also held a short run of dates in London and the States that year, but it was Israel which grabbed the headlines.


Korn at Ozzfest 2010 (Image credit: Kevin Nixon/Metal Hammer Magazine/Future via Getty Images/Team Rock via Getty Images)

2010 Line-up



Ozzy Osbourne • Motley Crue • Halford • Devildriver • Nonpoint 


Black Label Society • Drowning Pool • Kingdom Of Sorrow


Goatwhore • Skeletonwitch • Saviours • Kataklysm • Exodus • California Wildebeest • Immune 



Ozzy Osbourne • Korn • Murderdolls • Steel Panther • Skindred


Paradise Lost • Black Spiders • Revoker • Jettblack 



Ozzy Osbourne • Korn • Soulfly • Betzefer 


Almanda Shchora • Behind The Sun • Tal Friedman And The Krayot 

Metal Hammer line break

2013 and 2015 – ... And Then Japan 

Becoming ever more ambitious, Ozzfest pushed into Japan, with a two-day bill topped by Slipknot and Sabbath in Chiba City, 25 miles outside Tokyo. 

In an unlikely culture clash, professional edgelords Steel Panther were sandwiched between acts from the Far East, and crowd reaction was very different from what they were used to. Instead of laughter or gasps of shock, they were met with an overwhelming quiet. “In between the songs in Japan, they are absolutely silent, because that is their culture. We were thinking we were blowing it – we didn’t know what was happening!” says Stix. “But that’s how they are. They clap really fucking loud, and then they go silent and wait. Because we talk a lot between songs, that silence went on for a while. But it was a fantastic experience.”

Michael wasn't convinced that their brash locker room humour was well suited to the festival – and to be fair, he was probably right. “I think most of the comedy, the fun part of everything we do, kind of went over their heads a little bit,” he says. “Because they’re so PC there, it was hard for people to go, ‘Oh, OK, am I supposed to enjoy this or not?’ But I think it went fine. It went so good, we’ve hardly been back since!”

2013 Line-up

MAY 11

Slipknot • Slash • Deftones • Maximum The Hormone • Man With A Mission • Fear, And Loathing In Las Vegas • The Treatment • Namba 69 • Crossfaith • Galneryus • Momoiro Clover Z • Knock Out Monkey • Artema 

MAY 12 

Black Sabbath • Tool • Stone Sour • Dir En Grey • Anthem • Coldrain • Steel Panther • Mucc • AA= • Ningen Isu • Head Phones President • Fade

2015 Line-up 


Korn • Evanescance • Bullet For My Valentine • Noisemaker • Vamps • One OK Rock • Crossfaith • Corey Taylor • Meaning • Crystal Lake • Sim 


Ozzy And Friends • Jane's Addiction • Hatebreed • A Day To Remember • Black Label Society • Baby Metal • Fear, And Loathing In Las Vegas • 9mm Parabellum Bullet • Her Name In Blood • Ningen Isu • Oldcodex

Metal Hammer line break

2016 and 2017 – Ozzfest and Knotfest join forces

Ozzy and Slipknot announce that Ozzfest and Knotfest are joining together

(Image credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

In 2016, for its 20th anniversary, Ozzfest joined forces with the new kid on the block: Knotfest. The result was a two-day super-show featuring the likes of Slayer, Megadeth and Disturbed, as well as Sabbath and Slipknot

Sharon Osbourne said at the time: “We came up with Ozzfest and for 20 years it was amazing. And for many of those years we had the unbelievable Slipknot playing. And Slipknot came along and kicked our arses and created Knotfest.

“They took that around the world and it was hugely successful and critically acclaimed as one of the best festivals on Earth.

“Then we decided, ‘Why not merge together?’”

This decision saw Ozzfest coming full circle: after Ozzy gave that first chance to a young Slipknot all those years ago.

2016 Line-up



Black Sabbath • Disturbed • Megadeth • Opeth • Black Label Society • Rival Sons 


Suicidal Tendencies • Hatebreed • Devildriver • Goatwhore • Huntress


Municipal Waste • Kataklysm • The Shrine • Allegaeon • Brujeria 



Slipknot • Slayer • Amon Amarth • Anthrax • Trivium • Motionless In White


Sabaton • Suicide Silence • Overkill • Emmure • Butcher Babies • Man With A Mission 


Whitechapel • Combichrist • Death Angel • Carnifex • Loathe • Sim • Oni

2017 Line-up



Ozzy Osbourne • Prophets Of Rage • Deftones • Children Of Bodom • Orange Goblin 


Kreator • Baroness • High On Fire • Iron Reagan • 1349 • Havok • Tombs • Night Demon • Thrown Into Exile 


Possessed • Suffocation • Fallujah • Rings Of Saturn 



Rob Zombie • Marilyn Manson • Stone Sour • Eighteen Visions • Prayers 


Testament • Life Of Agony • The Black Dahlia Murder • Upon A Burning Body • Goatwhore • Death Angel • Code Orange • Oni • Stitched Up Heart • Ded 


Sid Wilson • Repulsion • Exhumed • Warbringer • Ghoul 

Metal Hammer line break

2018 – Ring in the New Year

On New Year's Eve 2018, a one-day Ozzfest took place at the Forum in Los Angeles with Ozzy being joined by Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Jonathan Davis, Body Count and more.

Ozzy said at the time: “I asked Sharon what we’re doing this New Year’s Eve and she said, ‘We’re doing fuck all.’

“So I thought, ‘We didn’t do Ozzfest in 2018, so let’s do a New Year’s Eve Ozzfest.’”

Sharon Osbourne added: “What better way to celebrate New Year’s Eve than with some of the greatest performers in this genre and our longtime friends Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Jonathan Davis and Ice T.”

The surprise announcement came after the Prince Of Darkness was forced to postpone a series of shows due to surgery on his right hand. 

Aside from the online event The Spirit Of Ozzfest that took place last year, 2018 was the last Ozzfest. Who knows what the future will hold for this legendary festival, that went from a two-day event to a global phenomenon, but one thing's for sure – it changed the metal world forever. 


(Image credit: Paul Natkin/WireImage)

2018 Line-up


Ozzy Osbourne • Rob Zombie • Marilyn Manson • Jonathan Davis • Body Count 


Zakk Sabbath • Devildriver • Wednesday 13 

Rich Chamberlain

Rich Chamberlain has written for Classic Rock,, Total Guitar, Nuts, FourFourTwo, Billboard, Classic Rock Presents The Blues and Classic Rock Presents Country.