Iron Maiden’s Eggfest

Iron Maiden spent its last night on the Ozzfest tour in grand rock ‘n’ roll fashion – getting into a full-scale beef with tour organizer Sharon Osbourne, being pelted with eggs and having its sound mysteriously cut during its August 20th set at Hyundai Pavilion At Glen Helen outside of Los Angeles.

Some might argue that it was Osbourne who got into the beef with Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson, but nobody seems to be quibbling over reports that some three dozen eggs mysteriously made it past security, into the front rows of the shed and ultimately onto Dickinson and his bandmates as they started their set.

Or that chants of “Ozzy! Ozzy! Ozzy!” were being pumped over the loudspeakers before, during and after Iron Maiden’s time on stage.

Or that the same public address system mysteriously malfunctioned for several minutes at a time on at least three occasions, resulting in two songs being stopped altogether.

When it was all over, Sharon Osbourne took to the stage – not to do damage control, but to add a touch of weirdness, even by Ozzfest standards.

She told the audience that Ozzfest organizers “absolutely loved Iron Maiden and their crew and they are all wonderful, but their singer, Bruce Dickinson, was a prick and had disrespected Ozzfest since they began their stint with the tour.”

Whether the animosity was authentic or simple end-of-tour antics, they just don’t do rock ‘n’ roll backstage wars like this anymore.

The Internet was abuzz with stories of intrigue and threatened carnage soon after. MSNBC reported fan accounts of Dickinson urging fans to break the arms of the egg-throwers while other sites reported that Osbourne First Daughter Kelly Osbourne as one of them (vehemently denied by Ozzfest organizers). Then, Web sites claimed the Osbourne camp had planned the entire thing and approached other Ozzfest bands to take part.

One of those bands so rumored issued a press release the following day denying any involvement but cryptically suggesting it had been solicited by an unnamed party.

“Despite the rumors of August 20th Ozzfest, Bury Your Dead had nothing to do with what transpired during Iron Maiden’s set. Although being asked to be apart (sic) of what took place, we declined out of respect for Iron Maiden as we are all fans and watched the band almost every night,” began a statement from the Ozzfest second-stagers.

Sharon Osbourne and Iron Maiden manager Rod Smallwood issued statements of their own after the smoke cleared, and neither appeared interested in mending fences.

“From day one, Bruce Dickinson started berating Ozzy and belittling the Ozzfest audience,” Sharon said. ” … Out of 200-plus bands over the last 10 years, he has been the only person who hasn’t had the Ozzfest spirit. He thought he was at a battle of the bands, always making other comments about the other artists.”

She went on to praise the other members of Iron Maiden, and said bassist Steve Harris even came to her to apologize for Dickinson’s behavior over the span of the tour.

“But how sad it was … that this little man tried to ruin it for everyone. … Bruce is in fact a jealous prick and very envious.”

She concluded by pointing out that Velvet Revolver was replacing Iron Maiden on the tour and “this is where the fun begins.”

Smallwood, after saying Iron Maiden would not give “Sharon Osbourne’s statement the dignity of a reply,” claimed the events were staged. “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,” the chairman of Sanctuary Artist Management said.

“The scale, viciousness and concentration of the throwing made it obvious that this was a premeditated and co-ordinated attack. … You should all be thoroughly ashamed of yourselves.”

Smallwood called “the great majority of the Ozzfest crew” terrific and thanked them. He also said “we know” who authorized the “Ozzy” chant and the cutting of power to the stage at what he called “crucial moments.”

“We will have no more to say on this matter except that I do think the band deserve an apology from a number of people, and you know who you are,” Smallwood concluded.

– Deborah Speer