“They pelted the s**t out of them!”: The night Iron Maiden were egged by Sharon Osbourne and friends live on stage

Photos of Bruce Dickinson and Sharon Osbourne
(Image credit: Annamaria DiSanto (WireImage)/John Sciulli (WireImage for Audi of America))

It’s gone down as one of the most infamous beefs in metal history. It was a night where tensions between two of the biggest, most influential and most important bands in heavy music spilled from backstage areas and the pages of the music press and onto the stage of arguably metal’s biggest festival. Nearly two decades later, the events of August 20, 2005, at San Bernardino’s Hyundai Pavillion still inspire ire from both sides: the moment when Iron Maiden were ambushed by a Sharon Osbourne-led posse and pelted with eggs at Ozzfest.

It all started so well. There was a mouthwatering announcement of the tenth edition of Ozzfest, which would be headlined by Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden and also feature Rob Zombie, Killswitch Engage, Trivium, Mastodon and Black Label Society. It was a bill that Sharon said she was “proud” of. Plus, with Maiden revealing that their set was going to be made up of songs from their seminal first four albums, everything pointed towards this being an all-time great Ozzfest.

Unfortunately, Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson didn’t appear as excited about the extravaganza as the fans. As the tour began, reports started to pop up that Bruce was unhappy with the corporate nature of Ozzfest; he allegedly voiced his disdain with onstage rants aimed at Ozzy Osbourne using a teleprompter and telling the crowd that Maiden didn’t need to have a reality TV show to keep them relevant.

If you see somebody throwing some shit at this band and raise their arm, make sure when it comes back down it’s in two fucking pieces!

Bruce Dickinson

Now, it’s worth mentioning that there is no actual evidence of Bruce saying this, nor any interviews from the time where he openly criticises Ozzfest. However, Sharon’s reaction makes it clear that something had riled her up. As Maiden took to the stage that evening, their show was beset by all manner of problems: there were sound issues, a voice chanting “Ozzy!” over the PA prior to Maiden’s arrival and, most egregiously of all, the band being pelted with eggs as they were performing. In seemingly the only footage available from that fateful night, it’s clear Bruce Dickinson was not happy, addressing the crowd at the end of The Trooper to let them know in no uncertain terms what was going down, British flag in hand.

“You might have noticed that a few wise-asses decided they would go down the supermarket and buy a few fucking eggs and start throwing them at us down the front,” Bruce raged, before adding an eggy pun: “I guess they thought they’d be funny, but this is an English fucking flag and these colours do not run from US whites!”

It’s shocking to see the normally gregarious frontman so openly livid, but Bruce wasn’t finished there. He made it quite clear that Maiden fans should go vigilante if they happened to see one of the egg-throwers. “Because we know there are a bunch of Iron Maiden fans out there,” he seethed, “I would suggest that, if you see somebody throwing some shit at this band and raise their arm, make sure when it comes back down it’s in two fucking pieces!” The roar that went up would suggest that there was a more significant portion of the crowd that were with Maiden than against them.

That was hardly the end of the drama, though. Later, the sound was cut completely, and Maiden vacated the stage for a short while, before coming back on, where a still-furious Dickinson also threatened someone in the front row, telling them he would “tear your fucking head off” at the start of a rip-snorting Hallowed Be Thy Name.

Iron Maiden performing live

Iron Maiden performing on the Ozzfest tour in July 2005 (Image credit: Theo Wargo/WireImage)

The aftermath of the incident was messy, filled with accusations and mudslinging. Sharon admitted to instigating the entire thing in an interview with Howard Stern in 2006. “They would go onstage and Bruce Dickinson, each night, would slag Ozzy,” she said. “I’m thinking to myself, ‘Let it go on. Just carry on, you little shit.’ So, on the last night in LA, I got 200 hispanic kids, loaded them with eggs, they had peanut butter, they fucking pelted the shit out of them. Then I went on stage and I said, ‘Look, don’t fuck with us. Don’t be disrespectful, this is what you get.’” She also claimed in a 2005 statement: “I did cut the band’s sound. Frankly, Dickinson got what he deserved. We had to listen to his bullshit for five straight weeks. He only had to suffer a couple of eggs on the head.”

Soon after, Maiden manager Rod Smallwood issued his own response of sorts: he said he didn’t “wish to waste time giving Sharon Osbourne’s statement the dignity of a reply.” However, he did call the whole incident “disgraceful” and claimed, “In 30 years in this business and after attending hundreds of gigs, I have never seen anything anywhere near as disgusting and unprofessional as what went on that night.”

Years later, the bad feelings still seem to have dissipated somewhat. Ozzy has claimed on multiple occasions that he didn’t even know about it at the time and, in 2018, Dickinson told NME the entire thing was a “storm in a teacup”. He then called Ozzy and Sabbath “icons”.

The one person who does still seem to have the bit between her teeth is Sharon. As recently as November 2022, she called Dickinson “a fucking prick” and “an arsehole” in an interview. Infamous as the incident is, it seems to have been put to bed by the main protagonists, so it’s probably time to let it go now.

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.