Tony Iommi and Ozzy Osbourne’s reunion at the closing ceremonies of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, Monday shocked the world, along with one half of the duo.
While the Black Sabbath co-founders had long considered reuniting at the Commonwealth Games in their hometown, Ozzy’s numerous health problems since 2019 appeared to close the door on the idea.
Iommi himself performed at the opening ceremonies of the games on Thursday, July 28. The guitarist tells Birmingham Live that it was after that performance that Ozzy called him up and asked if there was any way the two could perform together at the closing ceremonies.
The former bandmates speak often, but the call surprised Iommi, since Ozzy was (and is still) recovering from a major spinal operation in June.
“I never thought that he would be able to come and perform at the Commonwealth Games because of his operation,” Iommi said. “And then when he said he was coming over we were asked to keep it all a secret so that nobody would know.”
It’s still a bit of a mystery how Ozzy was about to get from Los Angeles to Birmingham without being spotted. Even Iommi is unsure how it was possible; he notes that Ozzy was advised by his doctor not to fly.
Undeterred, Ozzy arrived for rehearsal at Alexander Stadium the day of the show. The performance that evening marked Ozzy’s first in nearly three years. Though it only lasted a few minutes (“Paranoid” is one of Black Sabbath’s shortest songs), Iommi said the roar of the crowd had a measurable effect on Ozzy.
“When he went out to get into position, he was hobbling,” Iommi recalled. “When we’d finished, Sharon [Osbourne] said, ‘Look how he’s walking now… he’s walking OK back to the dressing room.’ It had obviously done him good.”
He added that the whole affair was “a great sign that [Ozzy] not only came over but got to get up and sing. Hopefully, this is just the beginning given that he has not been on a stage for a couple of years.”
Ozzy’s latest solo album, Patient Number 9, is due out in September. Iommi is listed a co-writer and featured performer on at least two of the tracks.