Rob Halford had already performed with Black Sabbath, so he was familiar with the gig. When Ozzy Osbourne was unable to perform at Ozzfest’s visit in Camden, New Jersey, in 2004, Rob was apprehensive to take over the show. In a recent interview with 107.7 RKR’s ‘Rocker Morning Show,’ bassist Geezer Butler recalled that performance, saying: “It was fantastic—Rob [Halford] is from the same town as the four of us.” And Tony [Iommi] used to be the manager of the original Judas Priest. So we’d all known each other since the early 1970s. And Rob knew every word to every Sabbath song. When Ozzy became unwell, Judas Priest were on the same bill as us, so we asked Rob if he would mind standing in for Ozzy. He was hesitant since he didn’t want to blow his voice out. But he eventually consented. And everything went swimmingly.”
Rob actually replaced Ronnie James Dio for the final two gigs of Ozzy Osbourne’s farewell tour in 1992 in Costa Mesa, California. Last November, in an interview with Metal Hammer, the rocker stated: “The phone rings, and it’s Tony on the other end. ‘Sharon wants Ozzy to come in and do some work with us in a few days, and Ronnie isn’t happy,’ he says. He refuses to do it, so we spoke with him and he asked if you wouldn’t mind stepping in and assisting us?’ ‘Well… sure,’ she says. Whatever you require, brummies.”
As a result, Rob’s conquest in Camden a decade later first surprised the audience. Butler remarked that it was a good show after Halford mentioned that Osbourne was suffering from bronchitis: “Well, it started off poorly because everyone was expecting Ozzy, and then Rob Halford came on.” After the first song, though, everyone accepted us. They had no idea what was going on. Why is Rob Halford performing with Black Sabbath rather than Ozzy? After the first song, he explained everything. The audience then got it. After then, it was a good gig.” Geezer Butler’s interview with 107.7 RKR’s ‘Rocker Morning Show’ can be heard below.