In a recent interview with Metal Mythos Aftershock, singer Tim “Ripper” Owens, who joined ICED EARTH in 2003 and stayed in the band for four years before being fired in December 2007, reflected on his split with the Jon Schaffer-led outfit. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “It wasn’t a very good parting. I was leaving to go to [Jon‘s] house to record a new record. And I walked back into my house to grab something and I got an e-mail and I looked at it and it said, ‘Brothers and sisters… You’re fired,’ or whatever. It’s the same e-mail he sent Blabbermouth at the same time. And it wasn’t a good falling out. It was two weeks before Christmas. It wasn’t good.”
Owens continued: “Two weeks before that, [Jon] sent me an e-mail saying, ‘Listen, I really need to teach you how to be a frontman and teach you how to do things.’ And Wendy Dio, who was my manager at the time, was beside herself. She kept saying, ‘Get out of this thing, man. You’ve gotta get out of this thing.’ And it was unfortunate that it ended like that — two weeks before Christmas with an e-mail that’s the same e-mail he sends Blabbermouth. I was kind of sad, but life goes on, and you move on to the next thing. And I think two days later I was recording a new Yngwie [Malmsteen] record. So it’s kind of, like, everything moves on for a reason.”
Owens previously discussed his departure from ICED EARTH in a 2012 interview with Australia’s Loud. He said: “It was handled poorly, I think, the situation. It could’ve been handled good and everybody could’ve looked good in the situation. But it was handled poorly, I think… I started getting all the blame when things weren’t the same. Or things weren’t what Jon thought they could be. And then, of course, it all came down on me. None of the blame ever came down on Jon. I’m fine with that, but the funny thing is that nothing really changed when I left anyway. I read numbers and I talk to agents, and the crowds are the same or smaller now. I think it was also me wandering a bit, knowing that ICED EARTH was kind of like a solo project. It’s really Schaffer‘s band, and I knew that. And I started having my own: I started doing BEYOND FEAR, and pushing BEYOND FEAR when probably I should have been talking about ICED EARTH. I think Jon read a lot of that and he read into it that my heart and soul wasn’t into ICED EARTH.”
Schaffer addressed Owens‘s exit from ICED EARTH in a 2008 interview with Metal Exiles. At the time, the guitarist said: “Tim was great to work with in the studio, and from a standpoint of performing live, he was great as far as being an incredible vocalist, but he was not a true believer in this band. It was a job for him, and ICED EARTH is not about that… He was more interested in doing his solo thing — that was where his head was at — and it was becoming more and more obvious. This band was a means to an end for him.”
In April, Schaffer pleaded guilty to his role in the U.S. Capitol riot. As part of the plea deal, Jon entered into a cooperation agreement with the government.
Following the initial reports that Schaffer was involved in the riot, his ICED EARTH bandmates distanced themselves from his actions. Singer Stu Block and bassist Luke Appleton later posted separate statements on social media announcing their resignations. BLIND GUARDIAN frontman Hansi Kürsch also quit DEMONS & WIZARDS, his long-running project with Schaffer. The allegations also apparently affected Schaffer‘s relationship with his longtime record label Century Media, which had released albums from both ICED EARTH and DEMONS & WIZARDS. As of mid-January, the Century Media artist roster page did not list either band.