Report: Ozzy Osborne Was Asked to Join Van Halen

A strange road not taken in rock history

Ozzy Osbourne On Stage
Ozzy Osbourne performs at the Alpine Valley Music Theater, East Troy, Wisconsin, May 29, 1982.
Paul Natkin/Getty Images

The history of rock music — really, of popular music, period — abounds with moments of what might have been. Especially tempting for music fans with a penchant for alternate timelines is the tendency to speculate about roads not taken involving multiple iconic musicians.

This week, Ozzy Osbourne revealed a piece of musical history that could be one of the biggest examples of this. Stereogum reports that Osbourne told listeners of Ozzy Speaks, his SiriusXM show, that the late Eddie Van Halen had reached out to him about joining Van Halen.

“He phoned me up one time and asked me if I wanted to sing in his band. Way after Sammy,” Osbourne said. “I think he was a bit drunk.”

For many listeners, imagining what Van Halen might have sounded like with Ozzy on vocals may well have blown their minds. Moments in rock history where a famous vocalist joins up with the members of a famous band aren’t all that common, but there have been a few notable examples over the years: Nirvana teaming with multiple vocalists for their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction is one example; Joe Strummer’s time in The Pogues is another.

In the same episode of Ozzy Speaks, Osbourne also spoke warmly of Van Halen’s approach to the guitar. “To watch Eddie play, it was like his hands would turn into a spider,” Osbourne said. It’s a tribute from one iconic rock musician to another.

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