When you think of Hollywood actor Will Smith, the heavy metal festival that is Ozzfest is probably not the first thing that pops into your mind. You may immediately think of the hit 90’s sitcom “The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air” or the feature films “Independence Day” and “I am Legend” or quite possibly an open-handed slap to the face of fellow Hollywood actor and comedian Chris Rock at this year’s televised Academy awards ceremony. But certainly not a travelling heavy metal festival launched by the Prince of Darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne and his wife/manager Sharon.
If you may recall, back in 2005, Will’s wife and fellow Hollywood actor Jada Pinkett Smith played the festival with her metal band WICKED WISDOM.
WICKED WISDOM went on to play a number of European festivals including Download in the mid-00s, earning their place among heavy metal’s ranks of the time.
In Will’s memoir, which published in November of last year, Smith speaks about how WICKED WISDOM got booked for Ozzfest, and about how he actually tried to talk Jada out of playing the festival.
“Ozzfest…featured all the metals,” he writes. “Thrash, industrial, hardcore punk, deathcore, metalcore, post-hardcore, alternative, death, gothic and nu. Sharon [Osbourne, Ozzfest organiser] had seen Jada’s band and some part of her understood. She and Jada became friends, and Sharon put Wicked Wisdom on Ozzfest in summer 2005.”
“Ozzfest is the least African American event outside of that broom-and-big-ass-hockey puck thing they do at the Olympics,” kids Smith, referring to curling. “‘Babe, are you sure you don’t wanna do some R and B?’ I asked softly, but I meant it hard. ‘[Metal] is the music I feel,’ Jada responded softly, but she meant it hard. So we packed up our children and headed down the black brick road to the land of Ozz.”
WICKED WISDOM made such an impression at the festival that they were even invited to go out on tour with the early 2000’s edition of GUNS N’ ROSES.
“Ozzfest is a purist audience,” Smith notes, “and what began as skepticism and dismissal, with every show was transformed first into silence, and ultimately into respect…Jada’s appearance at Ozzfest was so successful that Guns N’ Roses asked her to open for them on their upcoming tour.”
Will ended up attending numerous WICKED WISDOM shows in support of his wife, even going as far as to appear on-stage with metalcore band BURY YOUR DEAD on one date of the festival in Virginia.
If you were too young or were unable to attend the festival (or just want to relive some of the experience), you can watch WICKED WISDOM’s Ozzfest set below.