According to TMZ, Ozzy Osbourne has filed a lawsuit against AEG, claiming concert agency is “blackmailing” him. The BLACK SABBATH singer has alleged that AEG is using a practice called “block-booking” to force him to perform at the Staples Center in Los Angeles against his wishes.
Ozzy had tentatively agreed to perform at London’s O2 Arena on February 11, 2019 as part of his “No More Tours 2” farewell run, but he claims that AEG added a provision stating that if Osbourne played an indoor arena within 25 miles of Los Angeles that was promoted by competitor Live Nation during the tour, he would have to play the AEG-owned Staples Center as well.
Ozzy feels this is effectively a violation of the antitrust laws, which prohibit businesses from gaining a stranglehold on customers.
“Sharon Osbourne, Ozzy‘s wife and business manager, publicly complained about having to sign the Staples Center Commitment, but AEG would not relent,” the complaint reads. “Ozzy commences this action (on his own behalf and for all similarly situated artists) to prohibit AEG from enforcing the Staples Center Commitment, an unlawful tying arrangement that unfairly leverages AEG‘s dominance in greater London to distort and deter competition in greater Los Angeles.”
Osbourne wants a judge to invalidate the provision in his contract that forces him to perform at Staples.
Last month, Ozzy‘s wife and manager Sharon shared a a fiery letter she sent to AEG in which she condemned the act that would force the rock icon to perform at the Los Angeles venue as part of a deal for a scheduled concert at the O2 Arena.
She wrote: “Shame on AEG for bringing artists into a power struggle you’re having with your competitor, Live Nation. I can assure you that Live Nation would never strong-arm an artist into playing a venue they’re not comfortable performing in.”
AEG Live chairman/CEO Jay Maricano responded, “Dear Sharon, Thank you for your note. Please understand this dispute is between The Forum and Staples Center and we couldn’t agree with you more — it should always be the artist’s choice. We long for the days when artists and fans came first. PS — The other guys started this first!”
Sharon responded a day later, saying: “This is a staggering attempt to blackmail Ozzy into playing your venue in Los Angeles. It is also a complete abuse of bargaining power and not conducive to a free market.”
Sharon threatened legal action against AEG if Ozzy‘s London date was not confirmed, adding: “I find the way you’re conducting yourself and your company to be no more than childish playground tactics. I cannot be involved in a squabble between two venue owning promoters as my interests only lie 100 percent with Ozzy.”
Variety reported that AEG‘s O2/Staples requirement came about in response to a challenge from MSG that found the company refusing to book acts into Madison Square Garden if they played at AEG‘s Staples Center in Los Angeles instead of the MSG-operated Forum. In response, AEG informed agents and promoters that acts who perform at The Forum instead of Staples will not be booked at London’s O2 Arena.
Ozzy‘s final world tour kicks off this spring with dates in Mexico, South America and Europe, coming to North America in August. It’s slated to last until 2020.