At 70, Ozzy Osbourne Talks Sharon, Drugs and What a Bat Tastes Like
Looking back at the legendary Black Sabbath frontman's long—and often bizarre—career.
It’s been neither confirmed nor denied that he’ll be having a bat-flavored cake, but Osbourne is celebrating his 7oth birthday today.
Had he not cleaned up his act and gotten sober, the high school dropout made good as the frontman for Black Sabbath likely would no longer be with us.
Sober or not, Osbourne has always had a penchant for drawing attention—be it for biting the head off a bat onstage, peeing on the Alamo while wearing a woman’s gown or snorting a line of ants because nothing else was available—and a mouth on him to match. (His wife, Sharon, has a similar affliction.)
Since Osbourne has created both stellar songs and great sound bites over the course of his 70 years, we thought it’d be good practice to collect some of the best of them.
In honor of the Ozzman turning seven decades young, let’s get this train off the rails with 13 of the craziest things Osbourne has said over the years.
No. 1 – On what a bat tastes like: “Immediately, though, something felt wrong. Very wrong. For a start, my mouth was instantly full of this warm, gloopy liquid, with the worst aftertaste you could ever imagine. I could feel it staining my teeth and running down my chin. Then the head in my mouth twitched.”
No. 2 – On how people perceive him: “People take me too damn serious. I mean, I have sung songs about the darker forces, but I’ve also written songs about everything across the spectrum from pollution to politics to war to poverty to happiness to a boy meets girl. People go, ‘Oh, Ozzy Osbourne. He bites the heads off things and pissed up the Alamo.’ I kinda feel typecast … What I’ve desperately tried to get across is that if you think you know Ozzy Osbourne, you’re only scratching the surface because I don’t even know Ozzy Osbourne. I so often frequently surprise me, you know?”Photo of Black Sabbath (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
No. 3 – On Black Sabbath’s (perceived) interest in the dark arts: “We couldn’t conjure up a fart. We’d get invitations to play witches’ conventions and black masses in Highgate Cemetery. I honestly thought it was a joke. We were the last hippie band—we were into peace. I never did this black-magic stuff. The reason I did “Mr. Crowley” on my first solo album [Blizzard of Ozz, 1980] was that everybody was talking about Aleister Crowley. Jimmy Page bought his house, and one of my roadies worked with one of his roadies. I thought, ‘Mr. Crowley, who are you? Where are you from?’ But people would hear the song and go, “He’s definitely into witchcraft.”
No. 4– On a manicure infection almost killing him: “I was in hospital for a couple of days and had emergency surgery, and I remember waking up in the morning and Sharon said: ‘What the f**k have you done to your hand?’ The funny thing is they reckon I got it from a manicure. It won’t stop me from heading to the U.K. in February. I’m right-handed. You can’t wipe your own ass. And I didn’t have many f**king volunteers who would do it for me.”
No. 5 – On his experience using drugs: “It was always fun in the early days of Black Sabbath, when I stayed away from heavy drugs. Then someone gave me cocaine and I went, ‘Hallelujah!’ I thought I’d found the meaning of life! But everything I tried after that was the same. The ﬁrst hit was the best but I would never get the same hit again—morphine, f**king Demerol, Vicodins, f**king quaaludes, you name it, LSD, speed. It eventually stopped working or rather I stopped working with it. I just started to isolate. I would lock myself in a room all flicking day and just do paintings and watch a big-screen TV. I became a TV f**king ﬁend. I never shot up smack. I tried heroin once and I didn’t like it. It frightened me.”
No. 6 – On why he doesn’t talk politics: “I don’t understand them. I don’t. I don’t understand how we all go nuts for a few months to get the people into office and then they never do a f**kin’ thing they said they were gonna do anyway! If there’s a job ad in the newspaper saying ‘Builder wanted’ and you show up for the job and they say ‘Can you do this?’ and you say ‘Yeah, yeah!’ And they go ‘Start Monday’ and then Monday they say ‘Can you do what you said?’ and you say ‘No,’ you’d be f**kin’ fired! So what’s the deal with politicians, eh? I don’t get it. They should all start to play rock and roll, I think.”
No. 7 – On his wife making him who he is: “It’s true to say that if it wasn’t for Sharon, I wouldn’t be here. Yeah, I’d be dead. She has helped make me the man I am today. Through tough love and pushing me. In the ’70s I was so scared I wouldn’t go on stage. I’d sing on the side of the stage. And she said, ‘Here’s a cordless mic, f**king work that stage!’ She just bulldozed me into becoming what I am now.”
No. 8 – On getting old: “The hardest thing about getting old is all my good friends are dead. My problem, really, is I don’t remember I’m 70 [said when he was 69]. I don’t really know what 70-year-old people are supposed to do. So I just do my own thing.”
No. 9 – On what has kept his marriage going: “I suppose it’s fair to say we love each other. I love her, and she loves me. She was brought up in a music industry, so she’s not like a schoolteacher who married a rock star. But that’s a very good question. There’s no other woman I really want to spend the rest of my life with. You make a mistake and you learn by it. She’s made a few mistakes, and so have I. You know when you hear these people go, ‘Oh, we’ve been married 35 years and we’ve never had a row.’ I go, ‘You must have been living in a different f**king country.’ Sometimes, I’ve looked at my wife and I’ve just been angry as f**k, and vice versa. Other times, I go, ‘F**k, I love you.’”
No. 10 – On if he would change anything: “No, I wouldn’t change a thing. If I changed anything, I wouldn’t be where I am now. ‘Road to Nowhere’ is about how none of us know where we’re gonna go. I had no idea when we did our first Black Sabbath album, 50 years up the road, I’d be doing all these shows in front of 20,000 people like we had last night,” he continues. “I thought, ‘This will be good for a couple of albums and I’ll get a few chicks along the way.’ I left Sabbath and I did a great thing on my own. I met Randy Rhoads. He was a phenomenal guy. My life has just been unbelievable. You couldn’t write my story; you couldn’t invent me.”Ozzy Osbourne of Black Sabbath performs on stage in Manchester, England, 1972. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)
No. 11 – On life on the road (which he once summed up as “a bag of dope, a gram of coke, and as many chicks as I could bang.”): “Well, if you were going to have sex, you had to shove your willy somewhere. But, you know, been a long time since those days. And you’d always end up paying one way or another. I’d be lying in bed thinking, Have I got the f**king clap, or something else? It would drive me insane by the end of the week. But women were running away from me in the end because I was so f**king out of it.”
No. 12 – On late Black Sabbath guitarist Randy Rhoads: “I was smoking dope and getting tanked and f**ked up on powders and I just wanted to go home, but he said I had to see this guy. So Randy came in, five foot f**king two and so skinny, I thought he was a fairy. When he played my brain went, ‘Either this is the greatest gear ever or this guy really is the best guitarist in the world.’ It took me a very long time to get over his death. I’m on a low dose of anti-depressants even now. Randy gave me a purpose, he gave me hope. I was fed up fighting people. I just had the greatest respect for him.”
No. 13 – On what he would put on his epitaph: “Just ‘Ozzy Osbourne, born 1948, died so-and-so.’ I’ve done a lot for a simple working-class guy. I made a lot of people smile. I’ve also made a lot of people go, ‘Who the f**k does this guy think he is?’ I guarantee that if I was to die tonight, tomorrow it would be, ‘Ozzy Osbourne, the man who bit the head off a bat, died in his hotel room….’ I know that’s coming.”
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