Born as John Michael Osbourne in 1948, Ozzy Osbourne is an English songwriter, actor, and singer who rose to fame during the ‘70s. He was originally known as the frontman of the heavy metal band, Black Sabbath and it is also during that time when he earned the title “The Prince of Darkness.” However, in 1979, he was removed from the band because of drug problems but he pursued a solo career that proved to be successful. He released eleven studio albums where seven of which became multi-platinum albums in the United States. His reputation in the heavy metal scene earned him the title of “Godfather of Heavy Metal.” Throughout his career, Ozzy Osbourne sold over 100 million records worldwide and he won several awards such as the Global Icon Award at the 2014 MTV Europe Music Awards and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers, and Authors. In this article, we are going to find out more about Ozzy Osbourne and his contributions to the music industry.
Osbourne was born in Birmingham, England on December 3, 1948. His father was a toolmaker at the General Electric Company his mother was a factory worker. Ozzy suffered from dyslexia at school and when he was 11 years old, he suffered sexual abuse from bullies. However, it was also during that time when he saw his love for art and he took part in school plays. He became a big fan of The Beatles when he was 14 years old and in one interview, he credits the song She Loves You like the song that inspired him to pursue a career in music. He left school when he was just 15 years old and he worked as a construction site laborer, apprentice toolmaker, abattoir maker, and trainee plumber.
When Geezer Butler formed his first band, Rare Breed in 1967, he recruited Ozzy Osbourne as is the vocalist. They played two shows before breaking up. After some time, Osbourne reunited with Butler together with guitarist Tony Iommi and drummer Bill Ward and called their band Earth. In 1969, the band finally settled for the name Black Sabbath which was based on a film title of the same name. When they are playing on stage, the band noticed that the crowd liked being inspired, and frightened at the same time that’s why they decided to always perform heavy blues music with a hint of gloominess in the lyrics and sounds.
Despite having little support from their US record label which is Warner Bros. Records, Black Sabbath still attained enduring success in the country. With Geezer Butler’s lyrics, Tony’s guitar riffs, Osbourne’s eerie voice, and Bill’s dark tempo drumbeats, the band’s self-titled debut album and their follow up album called Paranoid managed to perform well commercially and get heavy airplay.
During the peak of Black Sabbath’s career, Ozzy met his future wife, Sharon Arden. Because during that time, the band was considering Arden’s father, Don Arden, to be their new manager. Years later, Ozzy Osbourne thought that one of the best things they’ve done as a band was choosing Don Arden as their manager because he got to see Sharon more often.
Black Sabbath released their third studio album called Master of Reality in just five months after they released their Paranoid album. Their third installment was a success and it managed to reach the top ten of the United States and UK charts plus, the album went gold in just two months after its release. In 1972, Black Sabbath released their fourth album entitled Volume 4 which went gold in less than a month and it is the band’s fourth consecutive album that sold over a million copies in the United States alone.
After a year, Black Sabbath released their fifth critically acclaimed album called Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. And it was during that time when the band received positive reviews from mainstream media. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath was the band’s fifth consecutive album that went platinum in the United States. in 1975, Black Sabbath released their sixth studio album and it also met critical success.
Leaving Black Sabbath
in 1978, Ozzy Osbourne temporarily left Black Sabbath for three months to focus on the solo project he called Blizzard of Ozz. The band was composed of three members from the Necromandus band. But after that, Ozzy Osbourne decided to rejoin Black Sabbath and record their Never Say Die! Album. After releasing their album, the band embarked on a tour together with their front act, Van Halen. The last show of the tour in Albuquerque, New Mexico was the last time Osbourne appeared with the band.
The reason behind Osbourne’s dismissal wasn’t just because he wanted to pursue a solo career. It was partly because there were tensions and conflict that has been happening between band members when they are in the studio. In one interview, Osbourne recalls that he was asked to record his voice over and over again and Iommi was continually manipulating the band’s tracks. That’s why Ozzy Osbourne decided to leave the band and he was eventually replaced by Ronnie James Dio who was the former singer of the band named Rainbow.
In an interview, Ozzy shared that he got £96,000 for his share of the name and that he locked himself away for almost three months while doing coke and booze. However, even if he left the band, he was still signed to Jet Records which was owned by Don Arden. That’s why Don Arden sent Sharon to Los Angeles to check on Ozzy to protect his investment. Don Arden wanted Ozzy to return to Black Sabbath and when the singer declined the request, Arden later attempted to convince him to just create his new band and call it Son of Sabbath which Ozzy despised. Sharon Arden went to Ozzy tried to convince him to just form a supergroup together with guitarist Gary Moore.
In 1979, Ozzy Osbourne officially formed his band, Blizzard of Ozz under the management of Don Arden. The band was composed of Randy Rhoads on guitars, Lee Kerslake on drums, Don Airey on keyboards, and Bob Daisley on bass. In 1980, the band released their self-titled debut album that was credited under Ozzy Osbourne’s name which is why it marked the start of his solo career. The album achieved considerable success and the album became one of the 100 best-selling albums of the 1980s that have achieved a platinum certification without the help of a top 40 hit single.
Ozzy’s second album was called Diary of a Madman and it was released in 1981. The album featured the songs Flying High Again and Over the Mountain which also happens to be Osbourne’s favorite songs. However, it was also during this time when Lee Kerslake and Bob Daisley left the band and they were soon replaced by Rudy Sarzo and Tommy Aldridge. Ozzy Osbourne, together with his band, embarked on the Diary of a Madman tour. But as they were on the way to Florida, a light airplane that was carrying Rhoads, the band’s make up designer, Rachel Youngblood, and the pilot, Andrew Aycock, crashed while it low passes over the band’s tour bus. The accident killed Rhoads, Youngblood, and Aycock. This incident caused Ozzy to fall into a deep depression that’s why the tour had to be canceled for two weeks while Aldrige, Ozzy, and Sharon returned to Los Angeles to take a break.
In April 1982, the tour resumed with the tour and Rhoads was replaced by Brad Gillis who was the former guitarist of the band named Night Ranger. After the tour was over, Blizzard of Ozz released their live album called Speak of the Devil which also happens to be a tribute album for Rhoads.
In 1983, Former guitarist of the bands Rough Cutt and Ratt, Jake E. Lee joined Osbourne in recording his third studio album called Bark at the Moon. Weeks after its release, the album became certified gold and sold over three million copies in the United States alone. Three years later, Ozzy Osbourne released his fourth album called The Ultimate Sin which proved to be his highest-charting studio album. The RIAA awarded the album a platinum status within 3 months since its release.
In 1987, Ozzy Osbourne commemorated the fifth death anniversary of Rhoads by releasing a live album called Tribute which is a collection of live recordings of Blizzard of Ozz from 1981. During this time, Osbourne was still struggling with drug dependency and when he appeared in the documentary film entitled The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years, he told the director that sobriety sucks. In 1988, Ozzy Osbourne released his fifth studio album called No Rest for the Wicked which received a certified gold certification in just two months after its release. The album went as high as the thirteenth spot on the Billboard 200 charts.
Osbourne’s success continued into the 1990s. He kicked the decade off by releasing his No More Tears album in 1991 which featured the hit singles, I Don’t Want To Change the World and Mama I’m Coming Home. The album enjoyed so much radio airtime and MTV exposure that the album became quadruple platinum. Ozzy Osbourne won a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 1994 because of his song I Don’t Want To Change the World.
In 1995, Osbourne released his seventh solo studio album called Ozzmosis and embarked on the Retirement Sucks Tour. His album peaked at the fourth spot of the US Billboard 200 charts and became a certified gold and platinum album in just one year. During that same year, his entire CD catalog was remastered and reissued.
After six years, Ozzy Osbourne released his eight studio album called Down to Earth which featured the hit single Dreamer. The album reached the tenth spot of the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks and in 2003, it achieved platinum status.
In 2005, Ozzy Osbourne released a box set entitled Prince of Darkness and it featured B-sides, live performances, singles, demos, and duets with other artists. That same year, he released his ninth studio album called Under Cover which featured ten songs from the Prince of Darkness box set and an additional three new songs. Two years later, he released his tenth studio album called Black Rain under Epic Records. The album debuted at the third spot of the Billboard 200 charts and it managed to sell over 150,000 copies on its first week.
On June 2010, Ozzy Osbourne released his eleventh studio album called Scream which featured the hit single entitled Let Me Hear You Scream. The song spent a total of eight weeks on the Billboard Rock Songs chart. Four years later he released a compilation album entitled Memoirs of a Madman which include 17 singles that he released throughout his career, music videos, interviews, and live performances.
In 2016, Ozzy Osbourne reunited with Black Sabbath for The End tour which signified the final performances of Black Sabbath as a band. In 2018, Osbourne embarked on the No More Tours II tours and he cleared it up that he will not be quitting from the industry he just doesn’t want to do world tours anymore.
Ozzfest was created by Ozzy Osbourne’s wife, Sharon. It is an annual festival tour in the United States and sometimes Europe which features several hard rock and heavy metal bands. It helped a lot of inspiring bands because they got to perform at a larger audience and gain exposure. Ozzfest also made Ozzy Osbourne to be the first heavy metal star to sell over 50 million dollars of merchandise.