Ozzy Osbourne

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Ozzy Osbourne
OzzyChangingHands02-20-2010.jpg
Osbourne in 2010
Background information
Birth nameJohn Michael Osbourne
Also known asOzzy
The Prince of Darkness[1]
Born(1948-12-03) 3 December 1948 (age 65)
Aston, Birmingham, England
GenresHeavy metal, hard rock, blues rockdoom metal[2][3][4]
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, harmonica, synthesizer
Years active1967–present
LabelsEpic, CBS, Jet
Associated actsBlack Sabbath
Websiteozzy.com
 
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"Ozzy" and "John Osbourne" redirect here. For similar names, see Ozzie, John Osborn and John Osborne.
Ozzy Osbourne
OzzyChangingHands02-20-2010.jpg
Osbourne in 2010
Background information
Birth nameJohn Michael Osbourne
Also known asOzzy
The Prince of Darkness[1]
Born(1948-12-03) 3 December 1948 (age 65)
Aston, Birmingham, England
GenresHeavy metal, hard rock, blues rockdoom metal[2][3][4]
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, harmonica, synthesizer
Years active1967–present
LabelsEpic, CBS, Jet
Associated actsBlack Sabbath
Websiteozzy.com

John Michael "Ozzy" Osbourne (born 3 December 1948) is an English heavy metal vocalist, songwriter, and television personality. Osbourne rose to prominence in the early 1970s as the lead vocalist of the pioneering band Black Sabbath, whose dark and heavy sound has often been cited as key to the development of the heavy metal genre. Osbourne left Black Sabbath in 1979 and has since had a successful solo career, releasing 11 studio albums, the first seven of which were all awarded multi-platinum certifications in the U.S., although he has reunited with Black Sabbath on several occasions, most recently in 2011, to record the album 13, which was released in 2013. Osbourne's longevity and success have earned him the informal title of "Godfather of Heavy Metal".[5]

Osbourne's total album sales from his years in Black Sabbath, combined with his solo work, is over 100 million.[6][7] As a member of Black Sabbath, he was inducted into the U.S. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and he was inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame as a solo artist and as a member of the band. He has a star on the Birmingham Walk of Stars as well as the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In the early 2000s, he became a TV star, appearing as himself in the MTV reality program The Osbournes, alongside wife/manager Sharon and two of their three children, Kelly and Jack.

Early life[edit]

Osbourne was born in Aston, Birmingham. His father, John Thomas "Jack" Osbourne, worked nightshifts as a toolmaker at GEC.[8][9] His mother, Lillian, who was a Catholic but non-practising, worked days at a factory, according to Osbourne's autobiography, I Am Ozzy (page 6): "She was a Catholic, my mum, but she wasn't religious." Osbourne was the fourth of six children; he has three older sisters and two younger brothers: Jean, Iris, Gillian, Paul and Tony. The family lived in a small two-bedroom home at 14 Lodge Road in Aston. Osbourne has had the nickname "Ozzy" since primary school.[10]

Osbourne grew up dealing with dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, and other learning disabilities.[11][12] Drawn to the stage, Osbourne took part in school plays such as The Mikado and HMS Pinafore.[13] Upon hearing their first hit single at age 14, he became a great fan of The Beatles. He credits the band's 1963 song "She Loves You" for inspiring him to become a musician. He said in the 2011 documentary God Bless Ozzy Osbourne that "as soon as I heard 'She Loves You' on the radio, I knew I wanted to be a rock star for the rest of my life".[8][9][14][15]

Osbourne left school at 15 and was employed as a construction site labourer, trainee plumber, apprentice toolmaker, car factory horn-tuner, and slaughterhouse worker. He attempted to commit burglary, stealing a television (which fell on him during his getaway and had to be abandoned), a handful of baby clothes and bibs (originally thought to be adult clothes as it was too dark to see when he committed the burglary and which were stolen to sell to people at a pub), and some T-shirts.[8] He spent six weeks in Winson Green Prison when he was unable to pay a fine after being found guilty of robbing a clothes shop and his father refused, to teach his son a lesson.[8]

Career[edit]

Black Sabbath[edit]

Main article: Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath: Osbourne (right) with Tony Iommi in 1973

In late 1967, Geezer Butler formed his first band, Rare Breed, with Osbourne. The band played two shows, then broke up. Osbourne and Butler reunited in Polka Tulk Blues, along with guitarist Tony Iommi and drummer Bill Ward, whose band Mythology had recently broken up. They renamed themselves Earth, but after being accidentally booked for a show instead of a different band with the same name, they decided to change their name again. They finally settled on the name Black Sabbath in August 1969, based on the film of the same name.[16] The band had noticed how people enjoyed being frightened; inspired, the band decided to play a heavy blues style of music laced with gloomy sounds and lyrics.[16] While recording their first album, Butler read an occult book and woke up to a dark figure at the end of his bed.[citation needed] Butler told Osbourne about it and together they wrote the lyrics to "Black Sabbath", their first song in a darker vein.[17]

Despite only a modest investment from their U.S. record label Warner Bros. Records, Black Sabbath met with swift and enduring success. Built around Tony Iommi's guitar riffs, Geezer Butler's lyrics, Bill Ward's dark tempo drumbeats, and topped by Osbourne's eerie vocals, early records such as their debut album Black Sabbath and Paranoid sold huge numbers, as well as getting considerable airplay. Osbourne recalls a band lament, "in those days, the band wasn't very popular with the women".[10]

At about this time, Osbourne first met his future wife, Sharon Arden.[10] After the unexpected success of their first album, Black Sabbath were considering her father, Don Arden, as their new manager, and Sharon was at that time working as Don's receptionist.[10] Osbourne admits he was attracted to her immediately but assumed that "she probably thought I was a lunatic".[10] Osbourne said years later that the best thing about eventually choosing Don Arden as manager was that he got to see Sharon regularly,[10] though their relationship was strictly professional at that point.

Just five months after the release of Paranoid the band released Master of Reality. The album reached the top ten in both the United States and UK, and was certified gold in less than two months.[18] In the 1980s it received platinum certification[18] and went Double Platinum in the early 21st century.[18] Reviews of the album were unfavourable. Lester Bangs of Rolling Stone famously dismissed Master of Reality as "naïve, simplistic, repetitive, absolute doggerel", although the very same magazine would later place the album at number 298 on their 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list, compiled in 2003.[19] Black Sabbath's Volume 4 was released in September 1972. Critics were again dismissive of the album, yet it achieved gold status in less than a month. It was the band's fourth consecutive release to sell one million copies in the United States.[20][21]

In 1971 Osbourne met his first wife Thelma (née Riley) at a nightclub in Birmingham called the Rum Runner, where she worked.[10] They were married in 1971 and children Louis and Jessica were soon born. Osbourne later referred to his first marriage as "a terrible mistake";[10] his drug and alcohol abuse, coupled with his frequent absences while touring with Black Sabbath, took their toll on his family life, with his children later lamenting the fact that he was not a good father. In the 2011 documentary film God Bless Ozzy Osbourne, produced by son Jack Osbourne, he admitted that he could not even remember when Louis and Jessica were born.[22]

In November 1973, Black Sabbath released the critically acclaimed Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. For the first time, the band received favourable reviews in the mainstream press. Gordon Fletcher of Rolling Stone called the album "an extraordinarily gripping affair", and "nothing less than a complete success".[23] Allmusic's Eduardo Rivadavia call the album a "masterpiece, essential to any heavy metal collection", while also claiming the band displayed "a newfound sense of finesse and maturity".[24] The album marked the band's fifth consecutive platinum selling album in the US.[25] Sabotage was released in July 1975. Again there were favourable reviews. Rolling Stone stated, "Sabotage is not only Black Sabbath's best record since Paranoid, it might be their best ever."[26] Allmusic was not so favourable. They noted that "the magical chemistry that made such albums as Paranoid and Volume 4 so special was beginning to disintegrate".[27] Technical Ecstasy, released on 25 September 1976, was also met with mixed reviews. AllMusic gave the album two stars, and noted that the band was "unravelling at an alarming rate".[28]

Departure[edit]

In 1978, Osbourne left the band for three months to pursue interest in a solo project he called Blizzard of Ozz,[29] a name which had been suggested by his father.[30] Three members of the band Necromandus, who had supported Black Sabbath in Birmingham when they were called Earth, did backup for Osbourne in the studio and briefly became the first incarnation of his solo band. At the request of the other members, Osbourne rejoined Sabbath.[31] The band spent five months at Sounds Interchange Studios in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, writing and recording what would become Never Say Die! "It took quite a long time," Iommi said. "We were getting really drugged out, doing a lot of dope. We'd go down to the sessions, and have to pack up because we were too stoned, we'd have to stop. Nobody could get anything right, we were all over the place, everybody's playing a different thing. We'd go back and sleep it off, and try again the next day."[32]

Touring in support of Never Say Die! began in May 1978 with openers Van Halen. Reviewers called Black Sabbath's performance "tired and uninspired", in stark contrast to the "youthful" performance of Van Halen, who were touring the world for the first time.[33] The band filmed a performance at the Hammersmith Odeon in June 1978, which was later released on DVD as Never Say Die. The final show of the tour, and Osbourne's last appearance with the band (until later reunions), was in Albuquerque, New Mexico on 11 December.

In 1979, back in the studio, tensions and conflict between band members were continually present. Osbourne recalls being asked to record his vocals over and over, and tracks being manipulated endlessly by Iommi.[34] This was a point of contention between Osbourne and Iommi. At Iommi's insistence, and with the support of Butler and Ward, Osbourne was fired from Black Sabbath on 27 April 1979.[10] The reasons provided to him were that he was unreliable and had excessive substance abuse issues as compared to the other band members. Osbourne claims his drug use and alcohol consumption at that time were no better nor worse than that of the other band members.[35] The band replaced him with former Rainbow singer Ronnie James Dio.[17]

Conflict of a sort had existed between Iommi and Osbourne from the beginning. When responding to a 1969 flyer reading "Ozzy Zig Needs Gig- has own PA"[36] posted in a record store, Iommi and Ward arrived at the listed address to speak with Ozzy Zig. When Iommi saw Osbourne emerge from another room of the house, he left upon discovering it was the same "pest" he knew from growing up, as he knew of and disliked Osbourne from back in their school days.[10] Iommi had reportedly "punched out" Osbourne numerous times over the years when the singer's drunken antics had become too much to take.[37] Iommi recalls one incident in the early 1970s in which Osbourne and Geezer Butler were fighting in a hotel room. Iommi pulled Osbourne off Butler in an attempt to break up the drunken fight, and the vocalist proceeded to turn around and take a wild swing at him. Iommi responded by knocking Osbourne unconscious with one punch to the jaw.[38]

Solo career[edit]

The Blizzard of Ozz, the band Osbourne formed before the decision was made to go solo

After leaving Black Sabbath, Osbourne was signed to Don Arden's Jet Records. Arden dispatched his daughter Sharon to Los Angeles to "look after Ozzy's needs, whatever they were", as a means of protecting his investment.[39] Initially, Arden was hopeful that Osbourne would return to Black Sabbath, and he later attempted to convince the singer to name his new band "Son of Sabbath", which Osbourne hated.[10] Sharon attempted to convince Osbourne to form a new supergroup with guitarist Gary Moore.[10] In late 1979, under the management of the Ardens, Osbourne formed the band The Blizzard of Ozz,[40] the line-up of which featured drummer Lee Kerslake (of Uriah Heep), bassist/lyricist Bob Daisley (of Rainbow and later Uriah Heep), keyboardist Don Airey (of Rainbow, and later Deep Purple), and guitarist Randy Rhoads (of Quiet Riot). The record company would eventually title the group's debut album Blizzard of Ozz credited simply under Osbourne's name, thus commencing his solo career. Co-written with Daisley and Rhoads, the album brought Osbourne considerable success on his first solo effort. Though it is generally accepted that Osbourne and Rhoads started the band, bassist Daisley later claimed that he and Osbourne formed the band in England before Rhoads officially joined.[41] Osbourne has maintained that his original choice for bassist was Dana Strum, and that it was Strum who arranged Rhoads' audition. Blizzard of Ozz is one of the very few albums amongst the 100 best selling albums of the 1980s to have achieved multi-platinum status without the benefit of a Top 40 single. As of August 1997, it achieved Quadruple Platinum status according to RIAA.

Osbourne performing in Cardiff, 1981

Osbourne's second album, Diary of a Madman, featured more songs co-written with Bob Daisley. For his work on this album and Blizzard of Ozz, Randy Rhoads[16] was ranked the 85th greatest guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone magazine in 2003.[42] This album is known for the singles "Over the Mountain" and "Flying High Again"; additionally, Osbourne explains in his autobiography that Diary is his own personal favourite album.[10] Tommy Aldridge and Rudy Sarzo soon replaced Kerslake and Daisley in the band. Aldridge had been Osbourne's original choice as the band's drummer, but a commitment to Gary Moore made him initially unavailable.[39] Sarzo had previously played in Quiet Riot with guitarist Rhoads, who recommended him for the position.

On 19 March 1982 while Rhoads was in Florida for the follow-up Diary of a Madman tour, and a week away from playing Madison Square Garden in New York City, a light aircraft piloted by Andrew Aycock (the band's tour bus driver) carrying guitarist Randy Rhoads and Rachel Youngblood, the band's costume and make up designer, crashed while performing low passes over the band's tour bus. In a prank turned deadly, the left wing of the aircraft clipped the bus, causing the plane to graze a tree and crash into the attached garage of a nearby mansion, killing Rhoads, Aycock, and the band's hairdresser, Rachel Youngblood. On autopsy, cocaine was found to be present in Aycock's urine.[citation needed] The crash was officially ruled the result of "poor judgement by the pilot in buzzing the bus and misjudging clearance of obstacles".[43] Experiencing firsthand the horrific death of his close friend and band mate, Osbourne fell into a deep depression. The tour was cancelled for two weeks while Osbourne, his wife/manager Sharon, and drummer Aldridge returned to Los Angeles to take stock while bassist Sarzo remained in Florida with family.[44]

Gary Moore was the first guitarist approached to replace Rhoads, but he refused.[44] Ex-Gillan guitarist Bernie Tormé replaced Rhoads once the tour resumed, though his tenure in the band would last less than one month. During an audition for guitarists in a hotel room, Osbourne selected Night Ranger's Brad Gillis to finish the tour. The tour culminated in the release of the 1982 live album, Speak of the Devil recorded at the Ritz in New York City. A live tribute album for Rhoads was also later released.

Despite the difficulties, Osbourne moved on after Rhoads' death. Speak of the Devil, known in the United Kingdom as Talk of the Devil, was originally planned to consist of live recordings from 1981, primarily from Osbourne's solo work. Under contract to produce a live album, it ended up consisting entirely of Black Sabbath covers recorded with Brad Gillis, bassist Rudy Sarzo, and drummer Tommy Aldridge. Osbourne later commented (inside the cover of "Tribute") "I don't give a fuck about that album. It was just a bunch of bullshit Sabbath covers."

In 1982 Osbourne appeared as lead vocalist on the Was (Not Was) pop dance track "Shake Your Head (Let's Go to Bed)". Madonna performed backing vocals. Osbourne's cut was remixed and re-released in the early 1990s for a Was (Not Was) greatest hits album in Europe, and it cracked the UK pop chart. Madonna asked that her vocal not be restored for the hits package, so new vocals by Kim Basinger were added to complement Osbourne's lead.

In 1983 a new guitarist was recruited to play with Osbourne. Jake E. Lee, formerly of Ratt and Rough Cutt, joined the band to record Bark at the Moon. The album, co-written with Bob Daisley, featured Tommy Aldridge, and former Rainbow keyboard player Don Airey. The album contains the fan favourite "Bark at the Moon". The music video for "Bark at the Moon" was partially filmed at the Holloway Sanitorium outside of London, England. Within weeks the album became certified gold. To date it has sold three million copies in the US[45]

1986's The Ultimate Sin followed (with bassist Phil Soussan[46] and drummer Randy Castillo), and touring behind both albums with ex-Uriah Heep keyboardist John Sinclair joining prior to the Ultimate Sin tour. At the time of its release, The Ultimate Sin was Osbourne's highest charting studio album. The RIAA awarded the album Platinum status on 14 May 1986, soon after its release; it was awarded Double Platinum status on 26 October 1994.[47]

Jake E. Lee and Osbourne parted ways in 1987. Osbourne continued to struggle with chemical dependency. That year he commemorated the fifth anniversary of Rhoads' death with Tribute, live recordings from 1981 that had gone unreleased for years. In 1988 Osbourne appeared in The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years and told the director, Penelope Spheeris, that "sobriety fucking sucks". Meanwhile, Osbourne found Zakk Wylde, who was the most enduring replacement for Rhoads to date.[48] Together they recorded No Rest for the Wicked with Castillo on drums, Sinclair on keyboards, and Daisley co-writing lyrics and playing bass. The subsequent tour saw Osbourne reunited with erstwhile Black Sabbath bandmate Geezer Butler on bass. A live EP (entitled Just Say Ozzy) featuring Geezer was released two years later. Butler continued to tour with Osbourne for the subsequent four tours, and was a major stage presence throughout. In 1988, Osbourne performed on the rock ballad, "Close My Eyes Forever", a duet with Lita Ford, reaching No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100.[49] In 1989 Osbourne performed at the Moscow Music Peace Festival.

While very successful as a heavy metal act through the 1980s, Osbourne sustained commercial success into the 1990s, starting with 1991's No More Tears, featuring the song "Mama, I'm Coming Home". The album enjoyed much radio and MTV exposure. It also initiated a practice of bringing in outside composers to help pen Osbourne's solo material instead of relying solely upon his recording ensemble to write and arrange the music. The album was mixed by veteran rock producer Michael Wagener. Osbourne was awarded a Grammy Award for the track "I Don't Want to Change the World" from Live & Loud, for Best Metal Performance of 1994.[50]

Wagener also mixed the live album Live & Loud released in 28 June 1993. At the time, it was to be Osbourne's final album. The album went platinum four times over,[51] and ranked at number 10 on that year's Billboard rock charts. At this point Osbourne expressed his fatigue with the process of touring, and proclaimed his "retirement tour" (which was to be short-lived). It was called "No More Tours", a pun on his No More Tears album. Prior to the tour Alice in Chains' Mike Inez took over on bass and Kevin Jones on keyboards as Sinclair was touring with The Cult. Osbourne's entire CD catalogue was remastered and reissued in 1995.

In 1995 Osbourne released Ozzmosis and returned to touring, dubbing his concert performances "The Retirement Sucks Tour". The album reached number 4 on the US Billboard 200. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified the album gold and platinum in that same year, and double platinum in April 1999.[52] The album features the hard rocking fan favourites "Perry Mason", "Ghost Behind My Eyes", "Thunder Underground", and the power ballad "See You on the Other Side".

The line-up on Ozzmosis was Zakk Wylde, Geezer Butler (who had just quit Black Sabbath again) and ex-Bad English, Steve Vai and Hardline drummer Deen Castronovo, now in Journey. Keyboards were played by Yes's Rick Wakeman and producer Michael Beinhorn. The tour maintained Butler and Castronovo and saw Sinclair return, but a major line-up change was the introduction of ex-David Lee Roth guitarist Joe Holmes. Wylde was considering an offer to join Guns N' Roses. Unable to wait for a decision on Wylde's departure decision, Osbourne replaced him. In early 1996, Butler and Castronovo left. Mike Inez (Alice in Chains) and Randy Castillo (Lita Ford, Mötley Crüe) filled in. Ultimately, Faith No More's Mike Bordin and ex-Suicidal Tendencies and future Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo joined on drums and bass respectively. A greatest hits package, The Ozzman Cometh was issued in 1997.

Ozzfest[edit]

Osbourne's biggest financial success of the 1990s was a venture named Ozzfest, created and managed by his wife/manager Sharon and assisted by his son Jack. The first Ozzfest was held in Phoenix, Arizona on 25 October 1996 and in Devore, California on 26 October. Ozzfest was an instant hit with metal fans, spiralling many up-and-coming groups who were featured there to broad exposure and commercial success. Some acts shared the bill with a reformed Black Sabbath during the 1997 Ozzfest tour, beginning in West Palm Beach, Florida. Osbourne reunited with the original members of Sabbath in 1997 and has performed periodically with them ever since.

Since its beginning, five million people have attended Ozzfest, which has grossed over US$100 million. The festival helped promote many new hard rock and heavy metal acts of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Ozzfest helped Osbourne to become the first hard rock and heavy metal star to hit $50 million in merchandise sales. In 2005 Osbourne and his wife Sharon starred in an MTV competition reality show entitled "Battle for Ozzfest". A number of yet unsigned bands send one member to compete in a challenge to win a spot on the 2005 Ozzfest and a possible recording contract. Shortly after Ozzfest 2005, Osbourne announced that he will no longer headline Ozzfest. Although he announced his retirement from Ozzfest, Osbourne came back headlining the tour. In 2006 Osbourne closed the event for just over half the concerts, leaving the others to be closed by System of a Down. He also played the closing act for the second stage at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California on 1 July as well as Randalls Island, New York on 29 July. After the concert in Bristol, Virginia, Osbourne announced he would return for another year of Ozzfest in 2007.

Tickets for the 2007 tour were offered to fans free of charge, which led to some controversy. In 2008, Ozzfest was reduced to a one-day event in Dallas, Texas, where Osbourne played, along with Metallica and King Diamond. In 2010, Osbourne appeared as the headliner closing the show after opening acts Halford and Mötley Crüe. The tour, though small (only six US venues and one UK venue were played), generated rave reviews: "Ozzy Osbourne is one of the greatest entertainers in history—regardless of genre or medium."—Artist Direct, 16 August 2010[53] "...we the eager maniacs of metal give OZZY the horns up for yet another blistering day of metal on two stages. "—Hard Rock Haven, 9 September 2010[54][55] "Ozzfest rises up again, exceeding expectations..."— Orange County Register, 16 August 2010[56]

2000s[edit]

Osbourne on tour in Japan in 1999

Down to Earth, Osbourne's first album of new studio material in seven years, was released on 16 October 2001. A live version filmed in Japan, Live at Budokan, followed. Down to Earth went gold in 2001, and platinum in 2003. The album features the fan favourite "Dreamer", a song which peaked at number 10 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks.[57] In June 2002, Osbourne performed the Black Sabbath anthem "Paranoid" at the Party at the Palace concert in the grounds of Buckingham Palace, an event in commemoration of the Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II.[58] In 2003 Osbourne recruited former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted after he left the band in 2000 (and Trujillo replaced him on Metallica's line-up). Both Newsted and Osbourne were enthusiastic about recording an album together. He was parodied by The Wiggles in their 2003 video "Space Dancing" as Wozzy Hasbourne on a poster.

On 8 December 2003, Osbourne was rushed into emergency surgery at Wexham Park Hospital in Slough, England when he had an accident with his all-terrain vehicle on his estate in Jordans, Buckinghamshire. Osbourne broke his collar bone, eight ribs, and a neck vertebra. An operation was performed to lift the collarbone, which was believed to be resting on a major artery and interrupting blood flow to the arm. Sharon later revealed that Osbourne had stopped breathing following the crash and was resuscitated by Osbourne's then personal bodyguard, Sam Ruston. While in hospital, Osbourne achieved his first ever UK number one single, a duet of the Black Sabbath ballad, "Changes" with daughter Kelly. In doing so, he broke the record of the longest period between an artist's first UK chart appearance (with Black Sabbath's "Paranoid", number four in August 1970) and their first number one hit: a gap of 33 years. Since the quad accident, aside from some short-term memory problems, he fully recovered and headlined the 2004 Ozzfest, in the reunited Black Sabbath.

In 2005 Osbourne released a box set called Prince of Darkness. The first and second discs are collections of live performances, B-sides, demos and singles. The third disc contained duets and other odd tracks with other artists, including "Born to Be Wild" with Miss Piggy. The fourth disc is entirely new material where Osbourne covers his favourite songs by his biggest influences and favourite bands, including The Beatles, John Lennon, David Bowie and others. Osbourne also helped judge the 2005 series of the X-Factor.

In March 2006, he said that he hoped to release a new studio album soon with long time on-off guitarist, Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society. In October 2006, it was announced that Tony Iommi, Ronnie James Dio, Vinny Appice, and Geezer Butler would be touring together again, though not as Black Sabbath, but under the moniker Heaven and Hell (the title of Dio's first Black Sabbath album). The response to the news on Osbourne's website was that Osbourne wished Tony and Ronnie well and that there is only one Sabbath. Osbourne's album, titled Black Rain, was released on 22 May 2007. Osbourne's first new studio album in almost six years, it featured a more serious tone than previous albums. "I thought I'd never write again without any stimulation... But you know what? Instead of picking up the bottle I just got honest and said, 'I don't want life to go [to pieces]'", Osbourne stated in a Billboard interview.[59]

Osbourne at Blizzcon, 2009.

Osbourne revealed in July 2009 that he was currently seeking a new guitar player. While he states that he has not fallen out with Zakk Wylde, he said he felt his songs were beginning to sound like Black Label Society and fancied a change.[60] In August 2009, Osbourne performed at the gaming festival BlizzCon with a new guitarist in his line-up Gus G.[61] Osbourne also provided his voice and likeness to the video game Brütal Legend character The Guardian of Metal.[62] In November, Slash featured Osbourne on vocals in his single "Crucify The Dead",[63] and Osbourne with wife Sharon were guest hosts on WWE Raw.[64] In December, Osbourne announced he would be releasing a new album titled Soul Sucka with Gus G, Tommy Clufetos on drums, and Blasko on bass.[65] Negative fan feedback was brought to Osbourne's attention regarding the album title. In respect of fan opinion, on 29 March Osbourne announced his album would be renamed Scream.[66]

2010s[edit]

On 13 April 2010, Osbourne announced the release date for Scream would be 15 June 2010.[67] The release date was later changed to 22 June. A single from the album, "Let Me Hear You Scream," debuted on 14 April 2010 episode of CSI: NY. The song spent 8 weeks on the Billboard Rock Songs, peaking at No. 7. Osbourne held a Meet-And-Greet album signing at the main branch of HMV in his home-town Birmingham, followed later that day by an intimate show in the Birmingham Town Hall. The first four hundred fans that arrived at the store earlier in the day were given wrist bands, enabling free access to the show.

On 9 August 2010, Osbourne announced that the second single from the album would be "Life Won't Wait" and the video for the song would be directed by his son Jack.[68] When asked of his opinions on Scream in an interview, Osbourne announced that he is "already thinking about the next album". Osbourne's current drummer, Tommy Clufetos, has reflected this sentiment, saying that "We are already coming up with new ideas backstage, in the hotel rooms and at soundcheck and have a bunch of ideas recorded"[69]

In October 2014, Osbourne will release "Memoirs of a Madman," a collection celebrating his entire solo career. A CD version will contain 17 singles from across his career, never before compiled together. The DVD version will contain music videos, live performances, and interviews.[70]

Black Sabbath reunion[edit]

It was announced on 11 November 2011 during a news conference at the Whisky a Go Go club on West Hollywood's Sunset Strip that the original Black Sabbath line up of Ozzy, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Bill Ward would reunite for a world tour and new album, to be produced by Rick Rubin.[71] Bill Ward dropped out for contractual reasons, but the project continued with Rage Against the Machine's Brad Wilk stepping in for Ward on drums. On 21 May 2012, Black Sabbath played at the O2 Academy in their hometown Birmingham, their first concert since their reunion.[72] The album, entitled 13, was released 11 June 2013,[73] and topped both the UK Albums Chart and the US Billboard 200.[74][75]

Other production work[edit]

Osbourne achieved greater celebrity status via his own brand of reality television. The Osbournes, a series featuring the domestic life of Osbourne and his family (wife Sharon, children Jack and Kelly, occasional appearances from his son Louis, but eldest daughter Aimee did not participate). The program became one of MTV's greatest hits. It premiered on 5 March 2002, and the final episode aired 21 March 2005.

Ozzy Osbourne band in 2011

The success of The Osbournes led Osbourne and the rest of his family to host the 30th Annual American Music Awards in January 2003.[76][77] The night was marked with constant "bleeping" due to some of the lewd and raunchy remarks made by Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne. Presenter Patricia Heaton walked out midway in disgust.[78] On 20 February 2008, Ozzy, Sharon, Kelly and Jack Osbourne hosted the 2008 BRIT Awards held at Earls Court, London.[79] Ozzy Osbourne appears in a commercial for the online video game World of Warcraft.[80] He was also featured in the music video game Guitar Hero World Tour as a playable character. He becomes unlocked upon completing Mr Crowley and Crazy Train in the vocalist career.

Osbourne published an autobiography in October 2009, titled I Am Ozzy.[81] Osbourne says ghost writer Chris Ayres told the singer he has enough material for a second book. A movie adaptation of I Am Ozzy is also in the works, and Osbourne says he hopes "an unknown guy from England" will get the role over an established actor.

A documentary film about Osbourne's life and career, entitled God Bless Ozzy Osbourne, premiered in April 2011 at the Tribeca Film Festival and was released on DVD in November 2011.[82] The film was produced by Osbourne's son Jack.[83]

On 15 May 2013 Osbourne, along with the current members of Black Sabbath, appeared in an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation titled "Skin in the Game".

Awards[edit]

Osbourne has received several awards for his contributions to the music community. In 1994, he was awarded a Grammy Award for the track "I Don't Want to Change the World" from Live & Loud for Best Metal Performance of 1994.[50] At the 2004 NME Awards in London, Osbourne received the award for Godlike Genius.[84] In 2005 Osbourne was inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame both as a solo artist and as a member of Black Sabbath.[85] In 2006, he was inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Black Sabbath band mates Tony Iommi, Bill Ward, and Geezer Butler.[86]

In 2007 Osbourne was honoured at the second annual VH1 Rock Honors, along with Genesis, Heart, and ZZ Top. In addition, that year a bronze star honouring Osbourne was placed on Broad Street in Birmingham, England while Osbourne watched.[87] On 18 May Osbourne had received notice that he would be the first inductee into The Birmingham Walk of Stars. He was presented the award by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham. "I am really honoured", he said, "All my family is here and I thank everyone for this reception—I'm absolutely knocked out".[87]

In 2008 Osbourne was crowned with the prestigious Living Legend award in the Classic Rock Roll of Honor. Past recipients include Alice Cooper, Lemmy, Jimmy Page. Slash, the former Guns N' Roses guitarist, presented the award.[88] In 2010 Osbourne won the "Literary Achievement" honour for his memoir, I Am Ozzy, at the Guys Choice Awards at Sony Pictures Studio in Culver City, California. Osbourne was presented with the award by Sir Ben Kingsley. The book debuted at No. 2 on the New York Times' hardcover non-fiction best-seller list.[89] Osbourne was also a judge for the 6th,[90] 10th and 11th[91] annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers.

Personal life[edit]

Osbourne has been married twice and is the father of six children (five biological, and one adopted). He was first married to Thelma Riley from Hall Green, Birmingham, and adopted her son, Elliot Kingsley (1966); together they had Jessica Starshine Osbourne (22 November 1972) and Louis John Osbourne (1975).[92]

Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne in Hawaii (2004)

Osbourne married Sharon Arden on 4 July 1982 and had three children with her. Osbourne later said that he deliberately married Arden on Independence Day so that he'd never forget his anniversary. Their children are Aimee (2 September 1983), Kelly (27 October 1984) and Jack (8 November 1985). They also took in family friend Robert Marcato after his mother died, but never legally adopted him. Osbourne also has six grandchildren, granddaughters Isabelle and Kitty, and grandson Harry from Jessica, granddaughter Mia and grandson Elijah from Louis and granddaughter Pearl from Jack.[93] He wrote a song for his daughter Aimee, which appeared as a B-side on the album Ozzmosis. He divides his time between the family's Buckinghamshire mansion in the English countryside, and Malibu, California.[94] Osbourne is a famous supporter of Aston Villa.[95]

It was reported by The New York Times in 1992 that Osbourne was a member of the Church of England and prayed before each show.[96] In 2002, Osbourne and wife Sharon were invited to the White House Correspondents' Association dinner by Fox News Channel correspondent Greta Van Susteren for that year's event. President Bush noted Osbourne's presence by joking: "The thing about Ozzy is, he's made a lot of big hit recordings – 'Party with the Animals', 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath', 'Facing Hell', 'Black Skies' and 'Bloodbath in Paradise'. Ozzy, Mom loves your stuff."[97]

Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne are one of the UK's richest couples, according to the Sunday Times Rich List. They ranked at number 458 in 2005, with an estimated £100 million earned from recording, touring and TV shows. Osbourne has over 15 tattoos, the most famous of which are the letters O-Z-Z-Y across the knuckles of his left hand. This was his first tattoo, created by himself as a teenager with a sewing needle and pencil lead.[8]

Osbourne suffered minor burns after a small house-fire in January 2013.[98] On his 65th birthday on 3 December 2013, Osbourne asked fans to celebrate his birthday by donating to the Royal Marsden cancer charity in London.[99]

Drug and alcohol abuse[edit]

Osbourne has abused drugs and alcohol for most of his adult life.[100] "I get high, I get fucked up," he admitted to Sounds in 1978. "What the hell's wrong with getting fucked up? There must be something wrong with the system if so many people have to get fucked up ... I never take dope or anything before I go on stage. I'll smoke a joint or whatever afterwards."[101] Black Sabbath band mate Tony Iommi said that while all the band were involved with alcohol and drugs to various degrees in the 1970s, Osbourne had the unhealthiest lifestyle of them all. Despite this, said Iommi, he was typically the only one left standing when the others were "out for the count".[38] At least one member of Osbourne's band, keyboardist Don Airey, admits the singer's substance abuse issues were what caused him to leave the band.[102]

Osbourne claims that his very first experience with cocaine was in early 1971 at a hotel in Denver after a show Black Sabbath had done with Mountain.[10] He claims Mountain's guitarist, Leslie West, introduced him to the drug.[10] Though West is reluctant to take credit for introducing Osbourne to cocaine, Osbourne says "When you come from Aston and you fall in love with cocaine, you remember when you started. It's like having your first fuck!"[10] Osbourne says that upon first trying the drug, "The world went a bit fuzzy after that."[10]

Though he has managed to remain clean and sober for extended periods in recent years,[103] Osbourne has frequently commented on his former wild lifestyle, puzzled at how he has survived 40 years of abuse.[104] Upon being fired from Black Sabbath in 1979, Osbourne spent the next three months locked in his hotel room taking vast amounts of drugs and alcohol all day, every day.[105] He claims that he would certainly have died if his future wife Sharon Osbourne (née Arden) had not offered to manage him as a solo artist.[106]

Osbourne claims in his autobiography that he was invited in 1981 to a meeting with the head of CBS Europe in Germany. Intoxicated, the singer decided to lighten the mood by performing a striptease on the table. He believed he had done so, kissing the record executive on the lips as he finished the striptease. His manager Sharon later angrily informed him that what he had actually done, and could not remember due to his intoxication, was perform a Nazi goose-step up and down the table before dipping his testicles in and then urinating in the executive's wine.[35]

In 1982 while wearing his future wife Sharon's dress because she had hidden his clothes, Osbourne drunkenly urinated on a cenotaph erected in honour of those who died at the Alamo in Texas, across the street from the actual building.[107] A police officer arrested Osbourne,[108] and he was subsequently banned from the city of San Antonio for a decade.[109] In May 1984, Osbourne was arrested in Memphis, Tennessee, again for public intoxication.[110] In 1984, Osbourne toured with Mötley Crüe. The tour is known as one of the "craziest drug and alcohol-fuelled tours in the history of rock and roll."[105]

In 2003, Osbourne told the Los Angeles Times how he was nearly incapacitated by medication prescribed by an over-prescribing Beverly Hills doctor.[111] The doctor allegedly prescribed 13,000 doses of 32 different drugs in one year.[112] However after a nine-year investigation by the Medical Board of California, the Beverly Hills physician was exonerated of all charges of excessive prescribing.[113]

Osbourne experienced tremors for some years and linked them to his continuous drug abuse. In May 2005 he found out it was actually Parkin Syndrome, a genetic condition, the symptoms of which are very similar to Parkinson's disease. Osbourne will have to take daily medication for the rest of his life to combat the involuntary shudders associated with the condition.[114] Osbourne has also shown symptoms of mild hearing loss, as depicted in the television show, The Osbournes, where he often asks his family to repeat what they say. At the TEDMED Conference in October 2010, scientists from Knome joined Osbourne on stage to discuss their analysis of Osbourne's whole genome, which shed light on how the famously hard-living rocker has survived decades of drug abuse.[115]

In April 2013, Osbourne revealed through Facebook that he had resumed drinking and taking drugs for the past year and a half, stating he "was in a very dark place" but said he had been sober again since early March. He also apologised to Sharon, his family, friends, band mates and his fans for his "insane" behaviour during that period.[116]

Osbourne is a Christian, praying before every show.[117]

Controversy[edit]

Osbourne, flanked by Philadelphia police officers, leaves Borders in Center City after signing copies of his new autobiography, I Am Ozzy on 27 January 2010.

Throughout his career, Christian groups have accused Osbourne of being a negative influence on teenagers, stating that rock music has been used to glorify Satanism. Scholar Christopher M. Moreman compared the controversy to those levelled against the occultist Aleister Crowley. Both were demonised by the media and some religious groups for their antics. Osbourne tempts the comparison with his song "Mr Crowley". Osbourne denies the charge of being a Satanist; conversely it has been alleged that Osbourne is a member of the Church of England and that he prays before taking the stage each night before every concert.[118][119]

In 1981, after signing his first solo career record deal, Osbourne bit the head off a dove during a meeting with CBS Records executives in Los Angeles.[120] Apparently he had planned to release doves into the air as a sign of peace, but due to being intoxicated at the time, he instead grabbed a dove and bit its head off. He then spat the head out,[120][121] with blood still dripping from his lips. Despite its controversy, the head-biting act has been parodied and alluded to several times throughout his career and is part of what made Osbourne famous.[108]

On 20 January 1982, Osbourne bit the head off a bat[122] he thought was rubber while performing at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Des Moines, Iowa. Rolling Stone magazine in 2004 ranked this incident number two on its list of "Rock's Wildest Myths".[123] While the Rolling Stone article stated the bat was alive, then 17-year-old Mark Neal[124] who threw it onto the stage said it was brought to the show dead.[120] According to Osbourne in the booklet to the 2002 edition of Diary of a Madman, the bat was not only alive but managed to bite him, resulting in Osbourne being treated for rabies.

In 1984 California teenager John McCollum committed suicide while listening to Osbourne's "Suicide Solution". The song deals with the dangers of alcohol abuse. McCollum's suicide led to allegations that Osbourne promoted suicide in his songs. Despite knowing McCollum suffered clinical depression, his parents sued Osbourne (McCollum v. CBS[125]) for their son's death, saying the lyrics in the song, "Where to hide, suicide is the only way out. Don't you know what it's really about?" convinced McCollum to commit suicide. The family's lawyer suggested that Osbourne should be criminally charged for encouraging a young person to commit suicide, but the courts ruled in Osbourne's favour, saying there was no connection between the song and McCollum's suicide. Osbourne was sued for the same reason in 1991 (Waller v. Osbourne), by the parents of Michael Waller, for $9 million, but the courts ruled in Osbourne's favour again.[126]

In lawsuits filed in 2000 and 2002 which were dismissed by the courts in 2003, former session musicians Bob Daisley, Lee Kerslake, and former touring and studio bassist during the Ultimate Sin era, Phil Soussan stated that Osbourne was delinquent in paying them royalties and had denied them due credit on albums they played on.[127][128] In November 2003, a Federal Appeals Court unanimously upheld the dismissal by the US District Court for the Central District of California of the lawsuit brought by Daisley and Kerslake. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that Osbourne does not owe any royalties or credit to the former session musicians, who were let go in 1981.[129] To resolve further issues, management chose to replace Daisley and Kerslake's contributions on the original masters, replacing them with Robert Trujillo on bass and Mike Bordin on drums. The albums were then reissued.[130] The original tracks have since been restored in accordance with the 30th anniversary of those albums.

In July 2010, Osbourne and Iommi decided to discontinue the court proceedings over ownership of the Black Sabbath trademark. As reported to Blabbermouth, "Both parties are glad to put this behind them and to cooperate for the future and would like it to be known that the issue was never personal, it was always business."[131]

Band members[edit]

Current members

Discography[edit]

Black Sabbath
Solo albums

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]