Ozzy Osbourne Biography
Ozzy Osbourne (real name John Michael Osbourne) is a distinguished contemporary rock musician, who gained fame in the 1970s as the creator and lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath. He is a Grammy recipient, an Ivor Novello Award winner, and has received MTV EMA, NME, and Classic Rock awards in the Global Icon, Godlike Genius, and Living Legend categories respectively.
Over the course of a successful career spanning more than half a century, both as a solo artist and as a frontman, he has gained immense popularity and the unofficial title of "Godfather of Heavy Metal". He has sold tens of millions of records and performed in thousands of shows.
As a solo artist and a member of Black Sabbath, he is inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame, as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the USA (along with bandmates Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi, and Bill Ward).
However, the "great and terrible" is considered one of the most controversial figures. Some critics believe that he made history in rock not so much as a genius and virtuoso musician, but as a freak - an absolutely unpredictable "Prince of Darkness" capable of biting off a bat's or a dove's head on stage.
Childhood and Youth
The future world-famous rock singer raised up in the second largest city in England - Birmingham. His father John Thomas worked as a toolmaker at the General Electric factory during the night shift, while his mother Lillian (née Unitt) worked at the same factory during the day.
His family was poor and had many children. The boy had three older sisters and two younger brothers. Their home was often the scene of scandals due to the father's addiction to alcohol. However, singing united all the family members - the children would learn recordings by Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry to put on a home concert. It was at one of these family concerts that Ozzy first performed, singing Cliff Richard's hit 'Living Doll'. After this, he dreamt of forming his own band.
School was hard for Osbourne due to dyslexia. He was constantly beaten up and considered a 'complete and brazen fool' due to his incomprehensible speech. The only subject he did well in was metalwork. As John noted in his book 'I am Ozzy', which became a New York Times bestseller, his knowledge of the subject was passed on to him by his father. By the way, it was during his school years that the nickname "Ozzy", derived from his surname, stuck.
Osbourne was unable to complete his secondary education. His family needed money, and the future rock star had to start earning a living at the age of 15, doing jobs far removed from music. He tried to become a plumber, a sanitary engineer, and a slaughterhouse worker, but he couldn't stay long at any of these jobs.
In 1963, Osbourne tried his hand at theft, but again, he was unsuccessful. The first time, he fell under the weight of a stolen television, and then, instead of adult clothing, he accidentally stole children's clothes in the dark. When he tried to sell it in a local pub, he was arrested. His father refused to pay the fine for him as a disciplinary measure and the young man had to spend a month and a half behind bars. From this lesson, Ozzy derived only benefit - he never wanted to go back there.
Ozzy's professional music career kicked off in 1966. After replacing the ill vocalist of the Music Machine band at a concert, Osbourne was inspired to create his own band. Bassist Terence Butler immediately responded to Ozzy's newspaper ad. They were soon joined by guitarist Tony Iommi and drummer Bill Ward.
Initially, Ozzy's band was named The Polka Tulk Blues, then Earth, and finally, the well-known Black Sabbath. The name was inspired by the eponymous horror anthology of Italian director Mario Bava. Following the success of this film, the band members thought that the audience would appreciate scary music. So, they decided to concentrate on a style filled with dark motifs and occult themes.
From 1969, the band performed cover versions of popular hits in clubs, while also working on their own compositions. One of the first was the song "Black Sabbath". Its success was largely due to the unique charisma of the lead singer, who amazed audiences with his devilish energy. The band's first eponymous album was released a year later, in February 1970. It ranked eighth in the UK chart and twenty-third in the US Billboard 200 chart. Despite mixed reviews, the album sold a million copies within a year.
Their second album, "Paranoid", released in September 1970, brought the rock musicians worldwide fame. Critics consider it the pinnacle of the band's creativity. "Paranoid" quickly rose to the top position in the UK Albums Chart and reached 12th place in the USA, earning platinum four times.
In December 1970, the band embarked on their first tour in the USA. At the same time, they began having unpleasant incidents with Satanists. According to the members of Black Sabbath, after they refused the Satanists' request to play the song "Walpurgis" at an event, the Satanists "cursed" them. The band members started having identical strange dreams. After that, they began wearing crosses on their chests "to ward off evil."
Their third studio album, "Master of Reality", was released in the spring of 1971. According to Iommi, the musicians experimented to make the songs sound "deeper and heavier". The album later received a "gold" award in their homeland, England, and "platinum" twice in the USA. Despite its commercial success, Rolling Stone critics slammed the album. This was due to the songs "After Forever", which sparked suspicions about the band members worshipping Satan, and "Sweet Leaf", which unofficially became a "marijuana anthem".
In 1972, Black Sabbath played 32 concerts on the "Iron Man" tour in the USA and Canada. In September of the same year, the musicians released their fourth album, "Volume 4", and toured with it in the USA, Australia, and Europe.
In December 1973, Ozzy's band released another studio album, "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath". For the first time, it received positive, even enthusiastic reviews from critics. In 1974, the rock performers played at the California Jam along with Rare Earth, Eagles, and Deep Purple. From that moment on, critics became more favorable towards the musicians. They also warmly received the band's sixth album, "Sabotage", which was released in 1975.
From 1976, conflicts began to brew in Black Sabbath for several reasons. Firstly, Ozzy was strongly against changes in the musical style in new albums, even though all other musicians supported this decision. Secondly, according to the band members, Ozzy couldn't handle concert life and became heavily addicted to alcohol and drugs.
Despite this, in 1977, the musicians released the LP "Technical Ecstasy", which lacked the doom metal familiar to fans, and the compositions had a more melodic sound. After the LP's release, Osbourne tried to leave the band but soon returned to work on the next album "Never Say Die".
In 1978, the new LP flopped, receiving many negative reviews. The band members were completely exhausted, and Ozzy began to abuse even more. For this reason, the band members decided to remove him from Black Sabbath. Years later, the musician called his dismissal from the band a "relief" — it truly gave a new start to his further creativity.
By the end of 1978, after being fired, the flamboyant rock artist was in a state of despair, continuing to actively use drugs and alcohol. However, this same year, thanks to Sharon Arden, his future wife and talented manager, he managed to assemble a new band, turning it into his solo project.
His debut album Blizzard Of Ozz was created in 1980 with guitarist Randy Rhoads, bassist Bob Daisley, and drummer Lee Kerslake, formerly of Uriah Heep. Osbourne's first solo album embodied the drive and hardness in rock and roll and was highly rated, as confirmed by its four-time "platinum" status. The album's success was boosted by a scandal that occurred during a radio performance when the singer, being drunk, unexpectedly bit the head off a live dove.
At the end of 1981, the rock musician's next album, Diary of a Madman, was released. The songs included in it were stylistically even more expressive, hard, and driven. Osbourne dedicated this work to the ideologist of Satanism, Aleister Crowley. During concerts in support of the album, raw meat was thrown into the hall for added shock value.
Fans, inspired by their idol's initiative, brought dead cats and frogs to the shows to throw on stage. All of this was loaded into a special catapult, sending the fans' "gifts" back into the hall. In January 1982, the singer repeated his scandalous act, biting the head off a bat thrown at him during a concert. He did this unintentionally - he thought it was a rubber toy. Later he joked that this incident would be written on his grave.
During a US tour in 1982 with guitarist Randy, Ozzy began work on a new live album. Randy and Osbourne always wrote music together, but in March 1982, an accident occurred - the guitarist died in a plane crash. Initially, Osbourne found it unethical to record an album without his comrade, but later hired guitarist Brad Gillis to continue working on the record.
In 1983, Ozzy's third studio album, Bark at the Moon, was released, which is notoriously known - under the influence of the eponymous title song of the album, a Canadian fan of Osbourne killed a woman and her two children. Then Osbourne's lawyers had to work very hard to protect the musician's reputation and prove his innocence.
The fourth album, created by Osbourne in 1986, was called The Ultimate Sin. It reached the sixth position in the Billboard 200 chart and subsequently became twice "platinum". Two years later, the musician presented the public with his fifth album "No Rest for the Wicked". It was 13th in the American chart and also received a "platinum" award twice.
In 1987, Osbourne released the album Tribute, dedicated to his deceased colleague, guitarist Randy Rhoads. It published several songs demonstrating Rhoads' performance mastery, as well as composition Suicide Solution, which is also connected with a tragedy - an American teenager committed suicide to it, and Osbourne had to go to court again and prove his innocence. It was after this case that among Osbourne's fans appeared the opinion that his songs contain secret messages acting on the subconscious.
John Osborne and Ozzy Osbourne are two different people. Playing Ozzy around the clock is very tough. People expect me to be biting someone's head off all the time, and these people start grimacing when they notice me. It's not fun anymore.
In 1989, Osbourne recorded the ballad "Close My Eyes Forever" with rock singer Lita Ford. After its release, it took 8th place in the top ten of the "hot" hundred Billboard, which became the highest achievement in the musician's solo career.
In 1991, the singer's sixth album No More Tears appeared. It included the song Mama, I’m Coming Home, dedicated to his beloved. The song took second place in the American chart Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks, became one of the main hits of the spring of 1992, and the second song of the performer after Close My Eyes Forever, which got into the TOP-40 Billboard Hot 100. The tour in support of the album was called No More Tours - Osbourne intended to end touring.
In 1994, Ozzy received a "Grammy" for the live version of the song I Don’t Want To Change The World. A year later, in 1995, he released his seventh album Ozzmosis. It is considered by critics to be the best since the release of the first two albums. It included the track My Little Man - a joint work of Osbourne with American guitarist and composer Steve Vai.
In 1996, the artist and his wife founded the rock festival Ozzfest, where many bands in the genres of hard rock, heavy metal, and alternative metal performed annually. In the early 2000s, the stars of rock like Iron Maiden, Slipknot, and Marilyn Manson participated in Ozzfest.
In 1997, Black Sabbath reunited in its original line-up to participate in Ozzfest. As part of the festival, they gave two concerts in their hometown of Birmingham. These performances were recorded and included in the band's live album "Reunion", which later became "platinum".
After the European tour in the summer of 1999, the musicians took up solo projects. Osbourne continued working on his eighth album Down to Earth, presented to the public in 2001, and Iommi - on the debut Iommi, which included the song of Ozzy Who’s Fooling Who, named by critics as maximally close to the bcbg style ("bon chic, bon genre" – "great style, beautiful appearance").
In 2002, the reality show "The Osbournes" about the "domestic" life of Ozzy and members of his family started on MTV, becoming the most viewed in the channel's history and winning an "Emmy". Its last episode was released in 2005. Then the project was revived in 2009 on FOX and in 2014 - on VH1.
In 2003, the rock artist performed a cover version of a song from Vol. 4 of his band called Changes with his daughter Kelly. The song became the leader of the UK chart for the first time in Ozzy's career. After that, he got into the Guinness Book of Records as a musician who had the largest interval between appearances in the charts - in 1970, the fourth line of this rating was occupied by the composition Paranoid.
In 2005, the ninth studio "longplay" Under Cover was released, where Osbourne included covers of hits from the 1960s-1970s, which had a significant influence on his work. Two years later, the release of the jubilee, tenth album Black Rain - a hard and melodic record, recorded by the musician "sober for the first time.
The eleventh album in Osbourne's solo discography, Scream, was released in 2010. As part of an original advertising campaign, held at Madame Tussauds museum in New York, he pretended to be his own wax figure, sitting in one of the halls waiting for victims of the prank. When visitors approached him, he suddenly stood up or screamed, causing serious fear in them.
In 2013, a Black Sabbath album named "13" was released. It became No.1 in the UK Albums Chart after just one week of sales. This event took place a record 43 years after Paranoid reached the top of the British chart. The previous record belonged to Bob Dylan - the gap between the release of his two chart-topping albums was 38 years. The album "13" reached the top in the prestigious US Billboard 200 chart for the first time in the long journey of the band, as well as in the charts of seven other countries, including Germany, Denmark, and Canada. The song God Is Dead? from this album received a "Grammy" award.
In 2016, the rock legend, together with his son Jack Osbourne, participated in the travel show Ozzy and Jack’s World Detour ("Round-the-world trip of Ozzy and Jack"), acting as its co-author and co-host. In 2017, the singer performed in the state of Illinois during a solar eclipse, headlining the "Carterville’s Moonstock" festival. He took the stage when the Moon eclipsed the Sun's disk and the solar corona appeared, impressing fans with an unusual performance of his classic composition "Bark At The Moon".
Ozzy Osbourne's Personal Life
The idol of millions, undoubtedly, was very popular among girls. In 1969 he married Thelma Riley - a cloakroom attendant from the Rum Runner club in his native Birmingham. Later, the singer called this act a mistake and regretted that he "turned this woman's life into hell", often cheating on her. Thelma gave birth to two of his children - Jessica (1972) and Louis (1975). In addition, he adopted her son Elliot from a previous marriage. Together, Osbourne and Riley lived for about 13 years.
A year after the divorce, in 1982, the rock artist married Sharon, the daughter of music producer Don Arden. Osbourne noted in an interview that his wife not only helped him put his affairs in order, cope with alcohol addiction and improve his image, but also inspired changes in his creativity, allowing him to stay on top of the career ladder. They had three heirs - Amy (1983), Kelly (1984), and Jack (1985).
In 2016, a crisis occurred in the rock star's family. Sharon found out about her husband's affair with a young hairdresser and decided to divorce, after which Ozzy publicly announced that he was suffering from sex addiction. Later, the musician admitted that he made up this explanation in order to somehow justify his action and not to lose his beloved wife. The remarkable in all respects Sharon appreciated his desire to save the family and found the strength to forgive the betrayal.
In 2008, at the age of 60, on his 19th attempt, the artist passed the driving test. However, the very next day he had an accident in the newly bought Ferrari.
Ozzy Osbourne is a big fan of football. He has been a fan of Aston Villa FC from his native Birmingham for many years.
Ozzy Osbourne Now
In February 2020, 10 years after the release of his last album, Scream, the legendary rock singer presented his twelfth solo project, Ordinary Man, which received positive reviews from critics. It includes 11 tracks, including the title song, which he recorded together with Elton John.
For spring 2020, Osbourne had planned a massive tour with Judas Priest, but it had to be cancelled and postponed due to the coronavirus.
In April 2020, the sequel to the animated film "Trolls" was also scheduled for release, in which the artist's voice will speak for the key villain - King Thrash.
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