Live music and entertainment giant AEG has responded after Ozzy Osbourne filed a federal lawsuit against them.
Ozzy is unhappy with a policy that allegedly requires acts booked to play the AEG owned O2 in London to also play another of their venues, the Los Angeles Staples Center.
According to a suit filed this week, Ozzy’s UK promoters Live Nation have requested to book a show at The O2 in February 2019 as part of his sprawling No More Tours 2 swansong run, however "AEG said it was available – but only on the condition that Ozzy be bound by the Staples Center Commitment.”
Ozzy’s lawyer Daniel Wall with Latham Watkins says AEG (Anschutz Entertainment Group, Inc.) are being a "monopolist" and are violating antitrust laws in trying to get him to play their Los Angeles venue.
"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."
Ozzy wants the court to invalidate the provision in his contract that seemingly demands the block booking.
Ozzy Osbourne © PA Images
AEG has now reacted strongly to the lawsuit, telling Billboard: “This suit is without merit and we will vigorously fight it. We welcome a closer look at the global live entertainment market and, specifically, our practices and the practices of our competition.
“AEG has always worked hard to put artists first. At the same time, we must respond to the actions of those we compete with, specifically Live Nation and Madison Square Garden. Fighting for a level playing field is fair competition at its core.”
Sharon Osbourne wrote a strongly worded letter to AEG last month, saying: "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."
In response, AEG Live chairman/CEO Jay Maricano said: "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!"
According to Variety, the “other guys” Marciano alludes to is not Live Nation but Azoff-MSG Entertainment and his actions are in response to their alleged block booking tactics.
Irving Azoff said last month: “Dearest Jay – This is a pack of lies. I’ve put artists first my entire career, name one time you’ve put an aritst above your own self-interest. Why do they continue to do business with you? We do not block book Madison Square Garden and The Forum, it is well-established. You guys continue to use lies to validate your anti-artist, anti-industry behavior. Love, Irving. PS – Sharon, you rock. You’re welcome at The Forum any time.”