Ozzy Osbourne Blackmailed by Venue Owner, Claims Sharon
Sharon Osbourne claimed husband Ozzy Osbourne was being blackmailed as a result of a dispute between rival event agencies. She said AEG Live CEO Jay Marciano attempted to force Ozzy to perform in a Los Angeles venue where he didn’t want to play.
When Ozzy and manager Sharon began planning his upcoming No More Tours 2 farewell road trip, they wanted to appear at the O2 Arena in London on Feb. 11, 2019. The venue is owned by AEG, while the tour is being produced by Live Nation. AEG stipulated that, in return for being allowed to use the O2 Arena, the Osbournes had to agree to play the Staples Center in L.A. if any show was to take place within 25 miles of the city and was produced by Live Nation.
“Shame on AEG for bringing artists into a power struggle you're having with your competitor, Live Nation," Sharon Osbourne wrote in an email to Marciano shared with Billboard. “I can assure you that Live Nation would never strong-arm an artist into playing a venue they're not comfortable performing in.”
She returned a contract to appear at the Staples Center unsigned.
The Osbournes appear to have become victims of a feud between AEG and Live Nation that began last year, when former Live Nation executive Irving Azoff began block-booking venues, tying artists to appear in particular locations. His activity brought the L.A. Forum together with New York’s Madison Square Garden. AEG responded by commencing their own block-booking policies, which included the Forum’s rival venue, the Staples Center. Azoff said he had ended the practice, but Marciano disputed that. The situation led to Live Nation’s U.K. operation attempting legal action against AEG, but British authorities said any such action would have to take place in the U.S., which hasn’t happened.
“Thank you for your note," Marciano replied to Osbourne’s email. "Please understand this dispute is between the Forum and Staples Center and we couldn't agree with you more — it should always be the artist's choice. We long for the days when artists and fans came first.”
But Sharon fired back, suggesting that, since the Staples Center contract had been sent by AEG to Live Nation, Marciano’s claim about a local dispute was inaccurate. “This is a staggering attempt to blackmail Ozzy into playing your venue in Los Angeles," she said. “It is also a complete abuse of bargaining power and not conducive to a free market. If you do not confirm the date for Ozzy at the O2 in London then I will be forced to take legal action against AEG Live without delay.”
She also compared the company's actions to "childish playground tactics." "I cannot be involved in a squabble between two venue owning promoters as my interests only lie 100 percent with Ozzy," she added.
U.S. dates for the No More Tours 2 begin on Apr. 27 in Jacksonville, Fla., and end on Oct. 13 in Las Vegas, with a date in Los Angeles listed for Oct. 11 at the Hollywood Bowl. The run is set to continue into 2020. Ozzy said after the announcement that although he didn’t plan to stage anymore world tours, he still plans to keep playing live on occasion and has wants to release a new album.