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In 1968 a 20-year old Ozzy Osbourne was gigging around Birmingham, England with his Rock band, Earth, when they noticed dozens of people lining up outside a cinema to watch a horror flick in the middle of the afternoon. When band mate Geezer Butler remarked he thought it was curious that people paid for the privilege of being scared out of their wits, a new musical genre was born. From that moment on, Ozzy and his mates, redubbed Black Sabbath in honor of the film, became the poster boys for dark, occultist Heavy Metal with Ozzy proclaimed its “Prince Of Darkness.”
It was all a gimmick of course. Despite selling millions of records and indulging in the outrageous behavior so common to Rock stars of the time, at heart, Ozzy was really just a working-class bloke who dreamed of settling down with a wife to love and a family to raise.
Who knew in 2002 that the world would become utterly fascinated by such a fairly mundane story? When The Osbournes debuted in March on MTV, it was an instant sensation and since then has been hailed as the catalyst for all of today’s celeb-reality shows. After a three year run, the concept petered out and we all thought, “well that’s the end of that.”
Not quite. This week on FOX, Ozzy and family debuted a new show, “Osbournes: Reloaded” and it looks like the fun is starting all over again. So let’s catch up with Ozzy Osbourne and let him tell the story in his own words.
On his early years, Ozzy talked with Rock journalist Bryan Appleyard:
It all began to go weird in 1963 when Ozzy, then 15, was walking to a friend’s house in Aston with a sky blue transistor radio glued to his ear. He’d been used to hearing Lonnie Donegan and Cliff Richard, but suddenly he heard The Beatles singing “She Loves You.”
“It changed my life…It was such an incredible explosion of happiness and hope. It gave me hope. In those days I had job after job and I couldn’t f****** stand working, I couldn’t take it any more… But then I became the biggest Beatles fan in the world. I used to dream – wouldn’t it be great if Paul McCartney married my sister? My bedroom wall was literally covered in Beatles pictures.”
This lead to the dead-end jobs. But The Beatles had shown him the way out. He persuaded his dad to get him a PA system and microphone and, on the sole basis that he actually owned such things, he was accepted into a band that rehearsed at 10 am in the morning in a building opposite the Orient cinema in Aston. One day a horror film was playing there and one of the band, which was then called Earth, observed that it was odd that people liked to be frightened so much. Perhaps, they thought, we should do scary music instead of the 12-bar blues numbers they were rehearsing. They adopted the film’s title – Black Sabbath – as their name and proceeded to invent Heavy Metal.
“I didn’t invent that form of music. When I look back now at that song Black Sabbath, I think, ‘How the f*** did I even begin to think of a melody like that?’ I don’t know how to do it any more. I think it was like a combination of my Beatles melody thing copmbined with those blues bands at the time- John Mayall, Fleetwood Mac and Savoy Brown. People say I invented that music but it wasn’t me. I was part of a band called Black Sabbath, there were four of us and we all had our say.”
When his music career was in full swing back in the ’80s, UK newspaper The Sun caught up with Ozzy for some thoughts about his wild ways off stage:
Even by the legendary standards of the indestructible Keith Richards, Ozzy Osbourne remains one of rock’s most outrageous hellraisers.
“I’ve been p***ed out of my face, chased people with a shotgun, driven f***ing Range Rovers over viaducts and come out without a scratch,” Ozzy says with a wide, white grin. (My, these Los Angeles dentists are good.)
But Ozzy is still smarting over the quad-bike accident that nearly killed him 5½ years ago and believes his demise will come in an equally freakish fashion. He says: “I was going 3mph, went over an embankment and the next minute I was coming out of a f***ing coma — 3mph and it nearly f***ing killed me! You know the way I’ll go? Some bird with some rare virus is going to fly over my head. It’s going to s*** on me and I’m going to melt on the floor.”
My father never set me down and told me the facts of life, sex, the dangers of alcohol, tabacco, whatever. And I’ve survived a lot of alcohol and drug abuse so it’s my duty to sit my son [Jack Osbourne] down and say things like “if you’re going to have sex, don’t go out in the rain without a rain coat. Wear protection. Don’t be stupid.” I mean, sex is as natural as breathing. But I’ll tell you, I wouldn’t want to be a teenager these days with the HIV virus going around. A lot of people think these things will never happen to their kid. “Oh my kid won’t get caught behind the wheel drunk,” and so on.
But at the end of every show I ever do I say “If you’ve been drinking or using dope, please make sure you get somebody around to drive you home, or leave your car and get a cab, ‘cus I want to come back next year and do this again.” And that’s the last message I leave the kids with, because some of these kids really go over the edge – at any concert – it’s a party atmosphere.”
After Sharon Osbourne was diagnosed with cancer, Ozzy sat down with People Magazine:
Ozzy—as expected—was the one who really fell apart. Sharon’s illness “demolished me,” he says. He was useless as a nurse (he fainted on her first trip to chemo), so Sharon told him he’d do best by just going out on tour as planned. He obeyed, but he also took matters into his own hands, sedating his nerves by getting stoned on beer. “I don’t think I’ll ever be 100 percent sober,” he says, adding, “I can’t stand AA.” Yet he says he’s not drinking “right now.” On this day he jogged four miles and fixed himself a protein shake. Sharon, who has ushered him in and out of 14 rehabs, reluctantly accepts that her husband may backslide. “Ozzy can’t deal with a lot of things in the real world.” But Kelly gets fed up coping with her child-man father. “I’m sick of saying, ‘Don’t do that! Don’t take that,’ ” she says. “Instead, I’ll say, ‘You a———,’ and walk out of the room.’ ”
Sharon herself seemed unglued during the Barbara Walters interview, complaining that The Osbournes had made such a wreck of their lives that she wasn’t sure the family would see their MTV commitment all the way through. Now, she says diplomatically, “I was really tired that day.” Although MTV put no pressure on the family to resume, she says, they’re sticking with the show, even if that means that “in an average day there’s probably 60 to 70 people that come through this house.”
Besides, Sharon is happiest when taming chaos. Although Ozzy asked her staff to reduce her workload, she’s back to at least 90 percent of her old schedule, says assistant Tony Dennis, mapping out strategy for her syndicated talk show, which is expected to debut in the fall. She takes meetings with her staff while the chemo drips intravenously. “It makes the time fly.”
Now that Osbournes: Reloaded is in the can, Ozzy talks about some of the outrageous stunts pulled on an unsuspecting general public with Star Pulse:
The economic crisis has even hit rock stars hard. Ozzy Osbourne has taken to serving burgers in a drive through window to supplement his music and TV income. Don’t worry, fans. It’s just a stunt for his new show, Osbournes Reloaded.
“Not to my liking, to be honest with you,” Ozzy reflected about his hours filming the hidden camera segment. “I didn’t get involved in the entertainment business to do fast food restaurants. These people really work.”
In tough times, connecting with the working class has made Ozzy appreciate the entertainment empire he’s been fortunate enough to build.
“One thing I’ve learned, I try not to complain too much about people who have to do manual jobs that you would never want to do. Who cleans up, who does dishes? Somebody does that job. I come from a working class background. I’ve never forgotten that. I’ve done my share of destroying hotel rooms and all of that stuff. It makes me realize they’re still out there and they’re still doing them jobs.”
Luckily, the format of Osbournes Reloaded allows Ozzy to get some singing in too. No covers, all Ozzy classics. “I decided, at this point I’ll only be doing my own stuff. Although, it’s maybe two or three songs.”
Between music, hidden camera, sketches and reality segments Osbournes Reloaded truly is a variety. “We’re trying to get a good across the table thing and not having the same thing every week. There will be some things that you will see every week but there’s a lot of things you won’t as well.”
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Stay tuned for more episodes of Osbournes: Reloaded right here on Fancast.