Rob Halford Recalls When Ozzy Osbourne’s Voice ‘Gave Out’

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Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford recently joined an interview with Metal Hammer and recalled performing with Black Sabbath when Ronnie James Dio declined to support Ozzy Osbourne on the stage.

In September 1991, Ozzy Osbourne released his sixth solo album, ‘No More Tears.’ Following the record’s massive success, the rocker launched his first farewell tour amid the health problems he had been going through. However, he later decided to keep touring. For the last two shows in Costa Mesa, California, Osbourne wanted to make the gigs even more special by inviting some guests.

His team reached out to Ozzy’s former band, Black Sabbath, and offered to open the Costa Mesa shows. At the time, Sabbath was hitting the road to support 1992’s ‘Dehumanizer’ album. Everyone thought it was a great idea, aside from the band’s lead singer, Ronnie James Dio. He refused to do the shows and appear on the stage as a support act for the group’s original frontman, Ozzy Osbourne. Luckily, there was someone else who came to their rescue.

After Dio’s negative response, Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi called Rob Halford to invite him to join them on the stage in Osbourne’s farewell shows. During a new interview, the rocker said he was ready to help them with whatever they needed. He got the setlist and started to listen to the songs.

Halford also convinced Iommi to play a few more songs they didn’t perform for a while. Although they initially agreed on one show, Halford ended up appearing in two shows, which didn’t bother him. The rocker said they’ve always supported each other in these situations. He recalled helping Ozzy again later when his voice gave out.

Rob Halford speaking on his performances with Black Sabbath:

“Sabbath had Ronnie in at the time. Sharon wanted to bring Ozzy on stage with Sabbath at the Costa Mesa arena, like the O2 with the roof off and sitting about 20.000 people. We’d just come off-stage at some other show, and the phone rings, and it’s Tony. He asks if I can help, ‘Sharon wants Ozzy to come in and do some work with us in a few days time, and Ronnie isn’t very pleased. He doesn’t want to do it, so we talked with him, and he’s asked if you wouldn’t mind stepping in and helping us out?’

‘Well… yeah.’ Brummies, you know, whatever you need. He sent me the setlist, and I got all my albums out and started listening to them, not that I had to listen to them anyway because it’s always in my head. He calls me back a couple of days later, and I’m like, ‘Tony, would you consider doing a couple of songs you might not have done for a while?’ and he’s up for it. So we got to do stuff like ‘NIB’ and closed with ‘Forever’ because there were a few tracks that hadn’t seen the light of day in a good while.”

The singer continued:

“On the way to California, I rented a little studio for us in Phoenix, came in, and everybody was already set up. We ran through the set once, then it was off to California. I’d gone to do one show, but it ended up being two. Not that I minded, we’re mates, and mates help each other out. There’s another thing that mates do to each other as well. Tony and Geezer are notorious pranksters. We’re getting ready to go on, and they say, ‘Are you nervous, Rob?’ and I’m like, ‘You’ve got to be.’

So I’m there, with all my gear on, looking like Pinhead from ‘Hellraiser,’ I walk down backstage with Tony, and as we get to the curtain, I realize he’s vanished. So I’m there, calling his name, ‘Tony? Tony?’ and he’s disappeared. I think, ‘He must have gone out,’ so I thought I’d better get out there too. I slowly walk out by myself, and the crowd starts roaring. I’m looking around, and there’s nobody on stage. So I’m thinking, ‘I’ve walked out, I can’t just walk back off,’ and having this dilemma, then a few seconds later, Tony and Geezer come walking out, falling about the place laughing.

They’re always pulling stunts. You’ve got to watch them. Afterward, I asked, ‘Did you do that to me?’ and Geezer went, ‘You’ll never know.’ But what a brilliant show. If you look on YouTube, you can find a fan-shot performance. So there you go. Flash forward a few decades; I stood in for Ozzy again when his voice gave out. It’s a Brummy thing. We help each other out.”

You can watch his performance with Black Sabbath below.