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Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Rossiter Drake*

system.jpg
System of a Down, not the legendary Iron Man,
will be headlining this year's Ozzfest.

This One Goes to Eleven!
(Courtesy of SF Examiner)

Give Ozzy Osbourne his due: his most memorable career moves are like no one else’s. And that’s just as well.

While negotiating his first solo contract with CBS in 1980, the self-proclaimed Iron Man sought to make an unforgettable impression by gnawing the heads off two live doves. The stunt earned him instant banishment from the label’s headquarters – and, improbably, the record deal that enabled him to release Blizzard of Ozz, the first of his multi-platinum hits. Two years later, realizing that nothing succeeds like success, Osbourne decapitated a dead bat – again with his teeth – during a live performance, and, in a separate incident, urinated on San Antonio’s most hallowed landmark.

Remember the Alamo? Apparently someone did, for in 2002 MTV chose to make Ozz and his gleefully dysfunctional family a reality-TV sensation, exposing the man himself as less the incorrigible geek and more the marble-mouthed, vaguely lovable pater familias.

Now the 57-year-old singer is handing over the reins of Ozzfest, his annual summer metalfest – and one of the concert industry’s few remaining seasonal juggernauts – to a new generation of rising stars.

“After 10 years, I feel it’s time to let someone else share the headlining spotlight,” Osbourne said. “We want to shake it up a bit this year. I’ve closed virtually every Ozzfest performance for a decade now and I feel I can finally let other artists headline our festival.”

So let it be mumbled, so let it be done. System of a Down will headline the main stage when Osbourne’s heavy-metal circus arrives in the Bay Area on July 1 at the Shoreline Amphitheatre. Joining the mayhem will be Ozzfest regulars Disturbed, Hatebreed, Lacuna Coil, and two newcomers, British import DragonForce and Huntington Beach’s Avenged Sevenfold.

And the Ozzman? Taking the stage without his Black Sabbath bandmates for the first time since 2003, he’ll treat fans to a career-spanning set of hits and new material from a forthcoming solo record. And for the first time in Ozzfest’s 11-year history, the founding father will headline the far more intimate second stage, backed by longtime guitarist Zakk Wylde. (Wylde will also be appearing with his own band, Black Label Society.)

As always, the music will provide the soundtrack for a larger, multimedia experience. Metalheads flocking to Mountain View this weekend will wander through a colorful concession area known as the Village of the Damned, where patrons can get tattoos or body piercings, play carnival games for tour souvenirs, or gape stupefied at the tour’s collection of “human oddities.” And for sex appeal, there will be the ceremonial crowning of the very first Miss Ozzfest. No doves or bats need apply.

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