Imagine Judas Priest frontman and heavy metal’s greatest statesman Rob Halford grabbing a mic and belting out both Ozzy-era and Dio-era Black Sabbath with Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Bill Ward. If that sounds like the best kind of heavy metal fever dream, then wake up because it actually happened — twice.
While speaking with SiriusXM’s Ozzy’s Boneyard host Mark Strigl (as transcribed by Blabbermouth), the “Metal God” reminisced about the time he stood in for Ozzy in Costa Mesa, California back in 1992 and again when he helped Black Sabbath in Camden, New Jersey in 2004 as Osbourne was dealing with bronchitis.
“How that happened was… You know, when Ronnie — God bless you, Ronnie — was working with Sabbath, and there was an opportunity for the band to do a little bit of a reunion at that show in Costa Mesa with Ozzy, Ronnie said, ‘I’m just gonna step aside for personal reasons.’ So he did. And then I get a call from Tony, ‘Can you come and help us out?’ ‘Yeah, what do you want me to do?’ Blah blah blah. We talked about the setlist. We put a couple of songs in there that Sabbath hadn’t done forever, ’cause they were my favorites and I thought the fans would love ’em. And then the next minute we’re doing two shows. We have a bit of a blast in the studio here in Phoenix, bang out the set, and the next day we’re playing two sold-out shows in Costa Mesa. So that was amazing.
“And then you go forward. And this is just what we do for each other in bands. Ozzy wasn’t feeling too well with his throat, and I get a phone call from Sharon [Ozzy’s wife and manager]… And the same deal. ‘He’s got this bronchitis thing. Can you step in for the show? ‘Yeah, sure. Which one?’ ‘Tonight.’ I’m, like, ‘Tonight?’ ‘Yeah. Can you do the show tonight?’ So I did. I did the Priest set, had a shower, got changed, ran out and did the Ozzy thing with Sabbath. So that’s happened two or three times.
“That’s what we do, man. We love each other.
“Priest and Sabbath go back forever. And so we still have this beautiful friendship and relationship that’s endured within and without the music. Priest and Sabbath, we started it all.”
It makes sense those two bands would be buddies for so long. They’re both British, they both have been around since the 60s, and they’ve both gone through the insanely difficult ordeal of replacing their frontman — although Sabbath definitely did that way more frequently than Priest.
Still, if only we could go back in time and see Halford’s performan — oh wait, we can. Check out the videos below to see the “Metal God” fill in for the “Prince of Darkness.”