The following biography
Ozzy Osbourne (born John Michael Osbourne on
December 3, 1948 in Aston, Birmingham, England) is the lead singer of the heavy
metal band Black Sabbath, popular solo artist, and reality television star.
Osbourne has been married twice and is the father of five children: Jessica
Hobbs and Louis Osbourne with first wife Thelma Riley; and Aimee, Kelly and Jack
with current wife Sharon Osbourne. He has two grandchildren, Isabelle and Harry,
by his oldest daughter.
Birth name John Michael Osbourne
Born December 3, 1948
Origin Aston, Birmingham, England
Genre(s) Heavy metal, Hard rock
Instrument(s) Vocals, Harmonica
Years active 1969 - present
Label(s) Epic Records, Sony
Osbourne lived in Birmingham for most of his early
life. Born into extreme poverty to a family with six children, he also had
learning disabilities (reportedly dyslexia), for which he was bullied
considerably in school. To lift himself out of clinical depression, he took
refuge in music early on, eventually becoming the singer of a local band, Rare
Breed. One of his former bullies, Tony Iommi, reluctantly invited him to jam
with his budding group, the Polka Tulk Blues Band (later renamed Earth), and was
favorably impressed by his voice. At a time when psychedelic rock was the norm,
Iommi and his partners decided to play heavy blues and sing about the bleak
quality of life surrounding them. Because the name Earth had already been used
elsewhere, they opted to rename the group Black Sabbath.
Main article: Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath met with swift and enduring success.
Built around Tony Iommi's driving guitar riffs and Geezer Butler's horror-laden
lyrics, topped by Osbourne's eerie, loud vocals, early records such as their
self-titled debut, Paranoid and Master of Reality in particular are considered
definitive of heavy metal. This was despite rather modest investment from
their US record label Warner Bros..
Several of their early singles, especially "War
Pigs", "Paranoid" and "Iron Man", continue to draw significant radio airplay to
this day. Osbourne himself continues to play these hits when performing as a
In 1979, Osbourne was fired from Black Sabbath.
Though many believe this was directly due to drug use, it was in fact due to his
increasing unreliability and failure to show up for gigs. He was replaced by
former Rainbow singer Ronnie James Dio. Depression now fueled Osbourne's drug
and alcohol problems, and his divorce from his first wife Thelma and a diagnosis
of bipolar disorder piled even more stress onto the singer. Despite these
difficulties, Osbourne attempted to launch a solo career, managed by Sharon
Arden, who was Black Sabbath manager Don Arden's daughter. With her help,
Osbourne was able to gain a recording deal with Jet Records, then a subsidiary
of CBS. However, Sharon herself recounts that the band was lucky to be able to
record and tour under the modest financial deal received from Jet.
The Ozzy Osbourne Band began life as The Blizzard
of Ozz. The first album was to be titled eponymously, but later it was agreed to
name it Blizzard of Ozz featuring Ozzy Osbourne. However, the record company
named it Ozzy Osbourne, with the album simply annotated Blizzard of Ozz. After
this, the band's name was simplified to The Ozzy Osbourne Band. Drummer Lee
Kerslake (of Uriah Heep) and bassist/lyricist Bob Daisley (of Rainbow), however,
still refer to that era as the "Blizzard of Ozz". Ozzy met with considerable
success on his first solo effort, the debut collection selling well with heavy
To keep Osbourne from delving into his addictions
following the momentum of the first album and tour, Sharon decided to try to
keep the band working. During this period a second album, Diary of a Madman,
took shape. Like its predecessor, the album was considered by some to be an
instant rock classic, and featured more of Bob Daisley's gifted songwriting and
impressive guitar work by Randy Rhoads. Its release met with controversy,
however. Although the songs were written and performed by the same four band
members who created Blizzard of Ozz, the internal album art and credits were
seemingly given to Osbourne's new touring band consisting of the singer and
Rhoads, along with bassist Rudy Sarzo (Quiet Riot) and drummer Tommy Aldridge,
formerly of Black Oak Arkansas. Also not shown was keyboardist Don Airey, who
played on the first three Ozzy Osbourne albums but was not credited until the
third album, Bark at the Moon.
In March 1982, while in Florida for the follow-up
album Diary of a Madman tour, and a week away from playing Madison Square Garden
in New York City, a light aircraft carrying guitarist Randy Rhoads crashed while
performing low passes over the band's tour bus. The pilot (also the tour bus
driver) who was apparently trying to scare his ex-wife (also
part of the Osbourne entourage) clipped the parked tour bus and crashed into a
nearby house, killing himself, Rhoads, and the band's hairdresser, Rachell.
Osbourne awoke from the tour bus and managed to save the life of the man living
in the house, but those on the plane died on impact. Osbourne subsequently fell
into a deep depression following the death of his close friend and bandmate. The
record company gave Osbourne a break from performing to mourn for his late band
member, but Ozzy stopped work for only one week.
Ex-Gillan guitarist Bernie Torme was the first
guitarist hired to replace Randy once the tour resumed. Torme, however, could
not handle the pressure of learning the guitar parts at short notice, and balked
at the idea of playing in front of thousands of fans still mourning the loss of
Randy Rhoads. There are very few photos of Bernie Torme playing with Ozzy, as
his tenure with the band lasted less than one month.
In a rare interview later in Guitar Player
magazine, Night Ranger guitarist Brad Gillis discussed how he came to play for
Ozzy following Bernie Torme, and a few tidbits about the recording of the
infamous 1982 Ozzy live album, Speak of the Devil. During an audition for
guitarists in a hotel room, Ozzy discovered Gillis. Ozzy sat on the edge of a
bed and sang "Flying High Again," while Brad played the song and solo with his
electric guitar unplugged. He played it so well that Ozzy hugged him and asked
him to help out in the tour. The tour continued, and culminated in the release
of the aforementioned live album, recorded at the Ritz in New York City over two
days. A live tribute album was later released in which Osbourne talks about his
relationship with Rhoads. This album included a studio song by Randy, taken from
studio outtakes, called "Dee". This was a record for his mother.
According to the press, Osbourne's antics
progressively worsened during the 1980s; his alcoholism and drug abuse
continued. (He later underwent a number of treatments for alcoholism and drug
He is infamous for biting off the head of a live
dove during a meeting with his newly signed record company. He was banned from
CBS's buildings, but he still retained his contract with CBS; though it has been
speculated that this was a calculated stunt meant to intimidate the label
executives into giving Osbourne more favourable contractual terms. Osbourne was
also hospitalised for rabies after biting off the head of a stunned bat thrown
on stage by a fan in Des Moines, Iowa. He later claimed to have thought the bat
was a rubber toy. He was arrested after urinating near the base of the Cenotaph,
a monument located in front of The Alamo, while wearing one of his wife's
dresses, for which he was banned from San Antonio, Texas for ten years. (The
dress was worn due to Sharon's attempt to prevent Ozzy from going out drinking,
by removing all his clothes from the hotel where they were staying.)
Another incident that occurred while Ozzy was on
drugs, was the shooting of 17 cats. He explained it saying,
"I was taking drugs so much I was a wreck, The
final straw came when I shot all our cats. We had about 17, and I went crazy and
shot them all. My wife found me under the piano in a white suit, a shotgun in
one hand and a knife in the other."
In the 1980s and 1990s, Osbourne's career was an
effort on two fronts: continuing to make music without Rhoads, and becoming
sober. Rhoads' first replacement was Bernie Torme (who reportedly could not cope
with the pressures of learning the set list at short notice, and who never
recorded with Osbourne), followed by Brad Gillis of Night Ranger, who filled in
for the rest of the tour and associated live album Speak of the Devil. This live
title, 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.
With news of Black Sabbath also about to release a live album titled "Live Evil"
however, Osbourne and Sharon decided to pre-empt his former band's efforts, and
the album ended up consisting entirely of Black Sabbath cover material, recorded
with Gillis, bassist Rudy Sarzo, and drummer Tommy Aldridge. In the same Guitar
Player interview where Brad Gillis discussed how he came to play for Ozzy, he
discussed the live album, and admitted that everyone in the band wanted to
rework some parts, but were not given the opportunity. Speak of the Devil was
musically left alone.
In 1982, Osbourne was the guest vocalist on the Was
(Not Was) pop dance track "Shake Your Head (Let's Go to Bed)" with Madonna
performing backing vocals (a little known fact). 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.
Jake E. Lee, formerly of Ratt and Rough Cutt, was a
more successful recruit than Torme, recording 1983's Bark at the Moon (with
Daisley, Aldridge, and former Rainbow keyboard player Don Airey) and 1986's The
Ultimate Sin (with bassist Phil Soussan and drummer Randy Castillo), and touring
behind both albums.
Meanwhile, Osbourne was involved in a legal battle
of his own. In late 1986, he was the target in the first of a series of US
lawsuits brought against him, alleging that one of his songs, "Suicide
Solution", drove two teenagers to commit suicide because of its "subliminal
lyrics". The cases were decided in Osbourne's favour, essentially on the premise
that Osbourne cannot be held accountable for a listener's actions. Soon after,
Osbourne publicly acknowledged that he wrote "Suicide Solution" about his
friend, AC/DC lead singer Bon Scott, who died from alcohol abuse, and that
solution referred to both alcohol as a solution to problems and as a chemical
solution. Bob Daisley, however, asserts that he wrote this song and that it was
about his concerns over Osbourne's own ongoing battle with substance abuse.
Lee and Osbourne parted ways in 1987, however,
reportedly due to musical differences. Osbourne continued to struggle with his
chemical dependencies, and commemorated the fifth anniversary of Rhoads' death
with Tribute, the live recordings from 1981 that had gone unreleased for years.
Excellently recorded, the album cemented Rhoads' legendary status as an
imaginative and talented musician. In 1988, Ozzy appeared in The Decline of
Western Civilization II: The Metal Years and told the director, Penelope
Spheeris, that "sobriety f*cking sucks." Meanwhile, Osbourne found his most
enduring replacement for Rhoads to date — a guitarist named Zakk Wylde, plucked
from a New Jersey bar. Wylde joined Osbourne for his 1988 effort, No Rest for
the Wicked, in which Castillo remained on drums and Daisley once more returned
to co-writing/bass duties. The subsequent tour saw Osbourne reunited with
erstwhile Black Sabbath bandmate Geezer Butler on bass, and a live EP (entitled
Just Say Ozzy) featuring this lineup was released two years later. Geezer
continued to tour with Ozzy for the subsequent 4 tours, and was a major stage
presence throughout, playing as strongly as anyone since Rudy Sarzo. In 1989,
Ozzy Osbourne performed as part of 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, which 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 platinum selling, top-10 No More Tears album was
mixed by veteran rock producer Michael Wagener, who also mixed the Live and Loud
album which followed in 1993. At this point Osbourne expressed his fatigue with
the process of touring, and proclaimed his "retirement", which was to be
short-lived. Osbourne's entire CD catalogue was remastered and reissued in 1995.
Also that year, he released Ozzmosis and went on stage again, dubbing his
concert performances "The Retirement Sucks Tour". A greatest hits package, The
Ozzman Cometh was issued in 1997.
Osbourne's biggest financial success of the 1990s
was a venture named Ozzfest, created by his wife/manager Sharon and managed
loosely by his son Jack. Ozzfest was a quick hit with metal fans, spurring
up-and-coming groups like Incubus and Slipknot to broad exposure and commercial
success. Some acts even had the pleasure to share the bill with a reformed, yet
much older Black Sabbath. Osbourne reunited with the original members of Sabbath
in 1997 and has performed periodically with the band ever since. Since 1997
there have been rumours of a new Black Sabbath album, though Ozzy has denied any
further studio plans as Black Sabbath.
Osbourne's first album of new studio material in
seven years, 2001's Down to Earth, met with only moderate success, as did its
live follow up, Live at Budokan.
In the wake of a lawsuit by former band members
Daisley and Kerslake, reportedly for unpaid royalties, Osbourne's catalogue was
"remastered" again in 2002. This time, the original bass guitar and drum track
contributions from the said musicians on Osbourne's first two albums were
controversially removed and re-recorded entirely for a reported sum of $30,000
each by bassist Robert Trujillo (Suicidal Tendencies, Infectious Grooves; now of
Metallica) and drummer Mike Bordin (Faith No More, Black Sabbath (1997 "reunion"
gigs at OzzFest). The pair also played on the "Down To Earth" album.
Subsequent titles, such as "Speak Of The Devil",
"The Ultimate Sin", "Just Say Ozzy" and "Live And Loud" were permitted to go out
of print entirely. Osbourne has stated that he has hated the sound of "The
Ultimate Sin", and he didn't like his image during this period as it was very
"glam". More royalty disagreements sprouted up in later years between the
Osbourne camp and Phil Soussan over this album; perhaps this was a way of
squashing the argument.
As for the live material which was deleted, it can
be speculated that Ozzy or the fans were getting tired of one live record after
another piling up, containing most of the same songs and perhaps this was a way
of cutting the slack since the release of Black Sabbath's "Reunion" set in 1998
and the release of Ozzy's "Live At Budokan" at the same time of the 2002
However, possibly gauging the reaction of angry
fans worldwide, most of the original 1995 remasters (with the minature cover
art) have been made available through a number of retailers, notably Amazon.com.
Most new copies of the 1995 reissues are now only available as imports. It has
been stated that the out-of-print material may be reissued again soon by Sony
BMG, which is parent company to Osbourne's label Epic Records.
Osbourne garnered still greater celebrity status by
the unlikely success of 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, but not his oldest daughter Aimee, who declined to
participate), has turned into one of MTV's greatest hits. It premiered on March
5, 2002, and the final episode aired March 21, 2005. It should be noted that
Howard Stern was the individual who originally proposed the idea for this show.
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. Bush noted Ozzy's
presence by making a couple jokes such as: "The thing about Ozzy is he's made a
lot of big hit recordings: 'Party With the Animals'; 'Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath';
'Face in Hell'; 'Black Skies and Bloodbath in Paradise.' Ozzy, Mom loves your
During 2003, a member of Birmingham City Council
campaigned for him to be given Freedom of the City.
On December 8, 2003, Osbourne was rushed into
emergency surgery when he was involved in an accident involving the use of his
all-terrain vehicle on his estate in Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire, UK.
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 the 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 accident, he has fully recovered and
headlined the 2004 Ozzfest, where he again reunited with Black Sabbath. He has
also turned his hand to writing a Broadway musical. The reputed topic is that of
the Russian monk Grigory Rasputin, who held sway with Russia's last royal
Romanov family. In 2005, he 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 Ozzy covers his favourite songs by his biggest influences and
favourite bands, including The Beatles, John Lennon, David Bowie and others.
He and wife Sharon starred in yet another MTV show,
this time a 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.
In 2004, Osbourne received an NME award for
In May 2005, the tremors he experienced and always
linked to his continuous drug abuse were diagnosed as Parkinsonian Syndrome, a
non-progressive genetic condition, the symptoms of which are very similar to
Shortly after Ozzfest 2005, Osbourne announced that
he will no longer headline Ozzfest. Although he announced his retirement from
Ozzfest, Ozzy came back for one more year, 2006, albeit only closing for just
over half the concerts, leaving the others to be closed by System of a Down.
After the concert in Bristow, Virginia, the amazing show of excitement and
gratitude from the audience, Ozzy announced he will return for another year of
Ozzfest in 2007.
In 2005, he was inducted into the UK Music Hall of
Fame along with Black Sabbath where he decided to moon the crowd because of
their poor reception while they were playing. This led to a standing ovation.
In March 2006, he said that he hopes to release a
new studio album soon with long time on-off guitarist, Zakk Wylde of Black Label
Osbourne has shown symptoms of a mild hearing loss,
as evidenced in the television show, The Osbournes, as he often asks his family
members to repeat what they say. This is possibly as a result of being exposed
to dangerous noise levels at music venues.
Osbourne is a supporter of Aston Villa Football
Club, having been raised in Lodge Road, only a few hundred yards from the club's
Ozzy Osbourne suffers from dyslexia and attention
In 1982, during the Diary tour where Ozzy bit into
a bat onstage, he was required to receive a series of rabies vaccination
injections as a preventative measure against the disease. The treatments caused
some temporary hair loss, and as a result Ozzy shaved his head. At one point
there were a large number of photos taken by the media where Ozzy is bald and
posing wearing military fatigues and holding various weapons. At another point,
he admitted to wearing a blonde wig, coloured "hooker blonde", and stated he
would begin a show with it on, then pull it off at another point in the concert,
to the complete surprise of fans. Such photos were used in music magazines at
the time, but are now rarely seen.
The main chords and melody of the song Diary of a
Madman were created while Randy Rhoads was teaching a student classical guitar.
Randy would hold guitar lessons while the band was touring around the United
States. Ozzy was asleep and was awakened by the ongoing guitar lesson. He ran
into the room, happily yelling at Randy something like; "What is that? What is
that you're playing?!" It's brilliant, I'm taking it!" Randy tried to explain it
was already a written classical part, but Ozzy would have none of it.
Ozzy made more than a few well known rock bands
famous by touring with them as opening acts, and supporting their musical styles
and success. In 1984, the opening band for the Bark at the Moon tour was Mötley
Crüe, touring their second album, "Shout at the Devil". During The Ultimate Sin
tour, Ozzy toured with Metallica, supporting their latest effort Master of
Puppets. Others include Soundgarden during their Badmotorfinger tour, and Korn,
during their ADIDAS tour.
Osbourne appeared at Wrestlemania 2 in 1986,
accompanying his fellow countrymen the British Bulldogs to the ring for their
WWF Tag Team Championship match, along with their manager, "Captain" Lou Albano.
Ozzy Osbourne's alcohol abuse and misadventures
resulting from his alcoholism came to a very serious peak in 1989 after an
assault on his wife/manager Sharon Osbourne.
Ozzy Osbourne has been parodied by Horatio Sanz on
Saturday Night Live, most memorable is an SNL Celebrity Jeopardy! (Saturday
Night Live) , in which Horatio says the first lines from Crazy Train. Sharon has
also been parodied on SNL celebrity jeopardy.
He was also parodied when The Osbournes was poked
fun at frequently on the BBC satire program, Dead Ringers. A notable occasion
include when Ozzy was portrayed as being the complete opposite of his usual
on-screen persona from The Osbournes: rather than hesitating when speaking and
often mumbling, he has a thick Oxford-style accent. Ozzy has himself appeared
alongside his Dead Ringers impersonation for Children in Need and in various BBC
Ozzy appears in the movie Little Nicky, as a kind
of deus ex machina character.
A multiplayer mode playable character named Lenny
Oldburn is in the game TimeSplitters: Future Perfect. Lenny looks and talks like
Ozzy Osbourne with a bio indicating a heavy metal history (the character shows
up in story mode, albeit as a different character—a one-time scientist who had
lost his mind)
Osbourne's perceived attitudes and behaviour earned
him nicknames such as "The Madman" (in the 1980s, thanks to the commercial
success of Diary of a Madman), "The Godfather of Heavy Metal" (in the 1990s, due
to his long-lasting contribution to rock music) and "Prince of Darkness" (in the
2000s, as he started calling himself).
Despite media criticism, Osbourne's on-stage
charisma helped make Black Sabbath a major success, with the landmark album
Paranoid reaching number 1 in UK and selling 8 million copies during the 1970s.
The four Black Sabbath founders are widely considered the creators of heavy
metal style. Since 1969, the band sold over 70 million albums worldwide,
including over 25 million in the United States; their most successful album,
Paranoid, achieved quadruple platinum status in the US in 1995.
During his solo career, Osbourne's only number 1
single hit was a re-recording of Black Sabbath's 1972 classic "Changes",
performed in a duet with his daughter Kelly in 2003. However, he managed to
reach #4 in the US with his last two studio albums.
As a solo artist, Osbourne has sold over 27 million
albums in the US (by far his biggest market) and over 50 million worldwide, more
than any other hard rock or heavy metal solo artist. Two
albums, Blizzard of Ozz (1980) and No More Tears (1991), are certified quadruple
platinum, for sales of over 4 million copies in US.
Five million people have attended Ozzfest, which
has grossed over US$100 million. The festival also helped promote many new hard
rock and heavy metal acts of the late 1990s and early 2000s, including System of
a Down, Limp Bizkit, Korn, Disturbed, Linkin Park, Papa Roach, Velvet Revolver,
Godsmack and Slipknot. In spite of always featuring Osbourne (either solo or
with Black Sabbath) as the headliner, it has also featured other famous artists
such as Pantera, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Slayer and Megadeth. Ozzfest also
helped Osbourne to become the first hard rock star to hit US$50 million in
Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne are one of the UK's
richest couples, according to the Sunday Times Rich List. They ranked #458 in
the 2005 list, with an estimated £100 million earned from recording, touring and
TV shows. They ranked above most music stars, such as Rod Stewart, George
Michael, Robbie Williams, the Rolling Stones' Charlie Watts and Ron Wood, and
Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Queen, and Dire Straits members.
Favourite rock albums
In June 2004, British newspaper The Observer asked
Osbourne to name his top ten favourite rock albums of all time. He named:
Revolver - The Beatles
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles
Band on the Run - Paul McCartney & Wings
So - Peter Gabriel
Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd
Abbey Road - The Beatles
Imagine - John Lennon
Blizzard of Ozz - Ozzy Osbourne
Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin
Machine Head - Deep Purple
1 Appleyard, Bryan, "Blizzard of Oz", The Sunday
Times Magazine, November 27, 2005. Retrieved on 2006-09-17.
2 Dodd, P, The Book of Rock, Pavilion, 2001, ISBN
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