JERUSALEM (AFP) – British rocker Ozzy Osbourne, the “Prince of Darkness,” was to perform in Israel on Tuesday despite a string of recent cancellations by other artists protesting its occupation of Palestinian lands.
When asked on Sunday whether he had any hesitation about performing in Israel on account of the conflict, Osbourne said he avoided politics because “I wouldn’t know what I was talking about,” according to the Ynet news service.
His wife and manager Sharon Osbourne added that “Britain has the IRA and no one cancels concerts there,” referring to the Irish Republican Army, which fought British rule in northern Ireland until the 1990s.
When asked why he hadn’t visited Israel before, Osbourne replied: “I don’t know, I was drunk for years.”
Osbourne shot to stardom in the 1970s as the lead singer of heavy metal band Black Sabbath before embarking on a solo career.
The performance in the seaside city of Tel Aviv on Tuesday is the latest instalment of the Ozzfest heavy metal concert series launched in the 1990s.
Several international artists cancelled performances in Israel this summer following the deadly May 31 seizure of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in which Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish activists.
The no-shows included the US alternative rock group The Pixies, London-based indie punk band Klaxons, and the Gorillaz, a hiphop group.
Britain’s Elvis Costello, rock guitarist Carlos Santana and rap forefather Gil Scott-Heron also backed out of scheduled visits after they came under pressure from opponents of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians.
Other artists have ignored such calls, including US R&B star Missy Elliott and Britain’s Elton John, who performed in Israel earlier this year.