Good comedians have a knack for saying what an audience is already thinking.
Dax Shepherd summed things up at Monday night's MusiCares MAP Fund event with the appropriate amount of inappropriateness when he noted "Ozzy Osbourne" and "Joe Walsh" aren't exactly the first names that spring to mind with the word "sobriety."
"It's sort of like Ray Charles giving a pair of binoculars to Steve Wonder," cracked the "Punk'd" star-turned-actor.
Of course, the evening's host got away with a handful of "roast" style jokes; he's a recovery veteran himself, with a decade of sobriety under his belt. The industry came out to watch Ozzy receive the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award for his support of the MusiCares MAP Fund, which helps folks deal with substance abuse.
The Eagles guitarist was on-hand to present the award to the Black Sabbath frontman. Ozzy told the crowd at Club Nokia in Los Angeles that when he heard the news, he asked Sharon: "Was I really so bad all these years that they're giving me an award for being sober?"
Craig Ferguson was equally riotous when making an introduction for his friend Jeff Greenburg. The "Late Show" host joked that the Village Studios owner and CEO had kept the notorious Escobar drug cartel in business during the late '80s and even noted that the From the Heart Award would make a great surface to snort cocaine from should he ever relapse. He took aim at downloading too, blasting the "18 to 34" demographic with glee because, "I don't care, I'm rich."
Earlier in the day, The Used manager Sean Akhavan praised MusiCares, particularly for their role in helping Bert McCracken with sobriety. "[Senior Director] Erica Krusen played a big part. She was very helpful," he told Billboard Biz. Bert has been sober for well over a year now. He looks and sounds better than ever."
Attendees included rockers like Corey Taylor (Slipknot, Stone Sour), Matt Sorum and Dave Kushner (Velvet Revolver), Gilby Clarke (ex-Guns N' Roses), Sully Erna (Godsmack), Wesley Geer (ex-Hed PE), alongside MusiCares Senior Director Erica Krusen, Grammy Museum publicist Andy Cox and others associated with the Recording Academy, Grammy Foundation and MusiCares, plus comedian Tommy Davidson, actress MacKenzie Phillips and Travel Channel's Mike McGuiness.
The industry was out in force, as well: Gerardo Martinez (Label Manager, Nuclear Blast Records); John Fenton (Divine Recordings, Mercenary Management); Marc Wilson (A&R, Warner Chappell Music); "Pesci" Jeff Gray, Phil Jaurigui and Sarah Berkowitz from Swing House; MSO PR's Mitch Schneider, Libby Coffey and Bari Lieberman; Brian Bumbery and Sam Citron of BB Gun Press; director Kevin Kerslake, producer John Alagia, Nadia Prescher (Co-Founder, Madison House), Victoria Cecilio (Digital Media Coordinator, Fox), Kevin Mazur (Co-Founder, Wire Image), Rynda Laurel (Founder, 1968media) and skateboard legend Tony Alva.
"I don't think there's a more public figure in metal than Ozzy," Gerardo Martinez told Biz. "We've known about his struggles with addiction and so on. So for him to be honored by such great people, it not only shows the respect they have toward him, but also the huge respect Ozzy has toward this noble cause."
Metallica came and showed everyone that besides being the biggest band in rock or metal, they will make time for something this cool!"
Beastie Boys collaborator Mixmaster Mike kicked off the festivities, dedicating his performance to the late DJ AM and fallen Beastie MCA, as well. His set included a sample of "Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth)," the famous bass solo from Metallica's debut album, composed by late bassist Cliff Burton.
Metallica has paid tribute to Ozzy and Sabbath numerous times over the years, cementing a relationship that stretches back to the 1980s. Kirk Hammett, Lars Ulrich, Ozzy's former bassist Robert Trujillo and his fellow MusiCares honoree James Hetfield played an intimate acoustic set which included the Ozzman's "Diary of a Madman." Hetfield made a lighthearted jab at the Rock N' Roll Hall Of Fame. "We're in, but they're not?" he said after Deep Purple's "When a Blind Man Cries." Their set included Rare Earth's "I Just Want to Celebrate" and "In My Life," which they chose due to Ozzy's well-known love for The Beatles.
"Metallica came and showed everyone that, even 'though they're the biggest band in rock and metal, they will make time to do something cool like this," noted Martinez. "It's totally awesome of them to do that."
The evening also featured performances from Beth Hart (with Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers on drums) and a couple of stripped down songs from Keb' Mo'. But the night, of course, belonged to Ozzy. Flanked by Dave Navarro, Billy Morrison (ex-The Cult), current Ozzy/Sabbs drummer Tommy Clufetos and longtime bassist Rob "Blasko" Nicholson (ex-Rob Zombie), Osbourne was lucid, lively and energetic as he blasted through classics like "Suicide Solution."
The well dressed guests seated in the couches near the stage were treated to a proper dousing from one of Ozzy's trademark buckets. Navarro nailed the Randy Rhoades solo in "Crazy Train." Standing with his wife, Hetfield was air drumming through "Iron Man." Slash joined the band for the night's closer, "Paranoid."