Artists: Ozzy Osbourne
Osbourne spent most of his early life in Birmingham, England. He was born on 3 December 1948 into abject poverty to a family of six children. Osbourne reportedly suffered from learning disabilities (believed to be dyslexia), making school life difficult. He sought refuge in music, eventually becoming the singer of a local band, Rare Breed. Former schoolmate, Tony Iommi, would discover Osbourne, inviting him to play with his budding group, the Polka Tulk Blues Band (later renamed Earth). Impressed by his unique singing style Osbourne was asked to join. During this time psychedelic rock was enormously popular. To distinguish themselves from the norm, Iommi and his partners decided to play a heavy blues inspired style of music laced with gloomy lyrics. One day during rehearsals, the band noticed people queuing up outside a movie theater where a horror film was being shown, and bassist Geezer Butler observed how curious it is that people like to be frightened, which inspired the band. On learning the name Earth was currently in use, the group appropriately re-named themselves after the movie "Black Sabbath". Despite a modest investment from US record label Warner Bros. Records, Black Sabbath met with swift and enduring success. Built around Tony Iommi's guitar riffs, Geezer Butler's lyrics and topped by Osbourne's eerie vocals, early records such as their self titled debut, Paranoid and Master of Reality are now considered definitive heavy metal.Many of the group's early singles such as "War Pigs", "Paranoid" and "Iron Man", continue to draw significant radio airplay. Black Sabbath has sold over 70 million albums since their inception and Osbourne himself continues to perform their songs as a solo artist. In 1979, Osbourne was fired from Black Sabbath largely due to unreliability from drug abuse. He was replaced by former Rainbow singer Ronnie James Dio.
Divorce from his first wife Thelma and a diagnosis of bipolar disorder added to the singer's problems finally sending him into a deep depression. Becoming a veritable recluse, Osbourne took to spending weeks alone locked in his hotel room. On an errand to collect an overdue fee, Black Sabbath manager Don Arden's daughter, Sharon Arden, discovered Osbourne brooding in his room and convinced him to restart his life. The two soon married and managed by Sharon, Osbourne was able to secure a modest recording deal with Jet Records, then a subsidiary of CBS. In the late 1970s, the band Necromandus rehearsed with Ozzy Osbourne and briefly became the first incarnation of his Blizzard of Ozz solo project. The Ozzy Osbourne Band began life as The Blizzard of Ozz. The first album was to be titled eponymously, but was later changed to Blizzard of Ozz featuring Ozzy Osbourne. The record company would eventually title the record Ozzy Osbourne, with the album simply annotated Blizzard of Ozz. After this, the band's name was simplified to The Ozzy Osbourne Band. Drummer Lee Kerslake (of Uriah Heep) and bassist/lyricist Bob Daisley (of Rainbow), however, still refer to that era as the "Blizzard of Ozz". Ozzy met with considerable success on his first solo effort, the debut collection selling well with heavy rock fans. A second album, Diary of a Madman, was considered by some to be an instant rock classic, and featured more of Bob Daisley's gifted songwriting and impressive guitar work by Randy Rhoads (who was ranked 85th greatest guitarist of all time by the Rolling Stone Magazine). Its release met with controversy, however.
Although the songs were written and performed by the same four band members who created Blizzard of Ozz, the internal album art and credits were seemingly given to Osbourne's new touring band consisting of the singer and Rhoads, along with bassist Rudy Sarzo (Quiet Riot) and drummer Tommy Aldridge, formerly of Black Oak Arkansas. Also not shown was keyboardist Don Airey, who played on the first three Ozzy Osbourne albums but was not credited until the third album, Bark at the Moon. In March 1982, while in Florida for the follow-up album Diary of a Madman tour, and a week away from playing Madison Square Garden in New York City, a light aircraft carrying guitarist Randy Rhoads crashed while performing low passes over the band's tour bus. In a prank turned deadly, the left wing of the aircraft clipped the bus and crashed onto a tree and finally a nearby house, killing the pilot, Rhoads, and the band's hairdresser, Rachel. On autopsy, cocaine was found to be present in the pilot's urine.Learning of the death of his close friend and band mate Osbourne, once again, fell into deep depression. The record company gave Osbourne a break from performing to mourn for his late band member, but Ozzy stopped work for only one week. Ex-Gillan guitarist Bernie Torme was the first guitarist to replace Randy once the tour resumed. Torme however, found the pressure of learning the band's songs so quickly and the idea of appearing before fans still mourning the loss of Rhoads unsettling. His tenure with the band would last less than one month. During an audition for guitarists in a hotel room, Ozzy discovered Brad Gillis.
The tour continued, culminating in the release of the 1982 live album, 'Speak of the Devil' recorded at the Ritz in New York City. A live tribute album was later released in which Osbourne spoke of his relationship with Rhoads. This album would also feature a studio song by Randy, taken from studio outtakes, called "Dee", in honor of his mother. Ozzy Osbourne found himself under fire in his controversial concert and stage acts that some parental-teacher associations, media content watchdog activist groups, including many Christian groups accused Osbourne for being a "negative" influence for teenagers. They claimed messages on his songs, actions (the infamous "horned hand") and stage decorations are portrayals of "devil worship" and glorified Satanism, but Osbourne denies these accusations and he claims it was done in good fun, symbolized teenage rebellion and for shock value. Ozzy was thought to have made songs that are held to promote or condone suicide. In the early 1980s, California teenager John McCollum committed suicide while listening to an Ozzy Osbourne record, right on the song Suicide Solution, a song about the dangers of alcohol abuse, through his stereo earphones when the sheriff found him already dead. His parents reportedly sued Ozzy Osbourne (McCollum v. CBS Inc. (1988)) for their son's death, claiming there is a hidden message towards the end of the track which says "Get the gun, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot," although he suffered clinical depression, and Osbourne agreed to remove any pro-suicide references in his songs ever since.[ In the 1980s and 1990s, Osbourne's career was an effort on two fronts: continuing to make music without Rhoads, and becoming sober. The 1981 concerts were recorded with a live album in mind. Entitled Speak of the Devil, known in the United Kingdom as Talk of the Devil, was originally planned to consist of live recordings from 1981, primarily from Osbourne's solo work.
With news of Black Sabbath also about to release a live album titled "Live Evil" however, Osbourne and Sharon decided to pre-empt his former band's efforts, and the album ended up consisting entirely of Black Sabbath cover material, recorded with Gillis, bassist Rudy Sarzo, and drummer Tommy Aldridge. In the same Guitar Player interview where Brad Gillis discussed how he came to play for Ozzy, he discussed the live album, and admitted that everyone in the band wanted to rework some parts, but were not given the opportunity. Speak of the Devil was musically left alone. Ozzy later commented (inside the cover of "Tribute") "I don't give a shit about that album. It was just a bunch of bullshit Sabbath covers." He also states that it was the recording company that wanted a new album, and that he was unwilling to release the tapes of performances live with Rhoads, believing this would dishonor his memory. In 1982, Osbourne was the guest vocalist on the Was (Not Was) pop dance track "Shake Your Head (Let's Go to Bed)" with Madonna performing backing vocals. Osbourne's cut was remixed and re-released in the early 1990s for a Was (Not Was) greatest hits album in Europe, and it cracked the UK pop chart. Madonna asked that her vocal not be restored for the hits package, so new vocals by Kim Basinger were added to complement Osbourne's lead. Jake E. Lee, formerly of Ratt and Rough Cutt, was a more successful recruit than Torme or Gillis, recording 1983's Bark at the Moon (co-writing the album with Bob Daisley, and also featuring Tommy Aldridge, and former Rainbow keyboard player Don Airey). 1986's The Ultimate Sin followed (with bassist Phil Soussan and drummer Randy Castillo), and touring behind both albums. Meanwhile, Osbourne was involved in a legal battle of his own. In late 1986, he was the target in the first of a series of US lawsuits brought against him, alleging that one of his songs, "Suicide Solution", drove two more American teenagers to commit suicide because of its "subliminal lyrics".
The cases were decided in Osbourne's favor, essentially on the premise that Osbourne cannot be held accountable for a listener's actions. Also helping was the fact the song was clearly about alcohol abuse and suicide solution was a blatant play on words. Soon after, Osbourne publicly acknowledged that he wrote "Suicide Solution" about his friend, AC/DC lead singer Bon Scott, who died from alcohol abuse, and that solution referred to both alcohol as a solution to problems and as a chemical solution. Bob Daisley, however, asserts that he wrote this song and that it was about his concerns over Osbourne's own ongoing battle with substance abuse. Lee and Osbourne parted ways in 1987, however, reportedly due to musical differences. Osbourne continued to struggle with his chemical dependencies, and commemorated the fifth anniversary of Rhoads' death with Tribute, the live recordings from 1981 that had gone unreleased for years. In 1988, Ozzy appeared in The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years and told the director, Penelope Spheeris, that "sobriety fucking sucks." Meanwhile, Osbourne found his most enduring replacement for Rhoads to date — a guitarist named Zakk Wylde, plucked from a New Jersey gas station. Wylde joined Osbourne for his 1988 effort, No Rest for the Wicked, in which Castillo remained on drums and Daisley once more returned to co-writing/bass duties. The subsequent tour saw Osbourne reunited with erstwhile Black Sabbath band mate Geezer Butler on bass, and a live EP (entitled Just Say Ozzy) featuring this lineup was released two years later. Geezer continued to tour with Ozzy for the subsequent 4 tours, and was a major stage presence throughout, playing as strongly as anyone since Rudy Sarzo. In 1989, Ozzy Osbourne performed as part of the Moscow Music Peace Festival.
While very successful as a heavy metal act through the 1980s, Osbourne sustained commercial success into the 1990s, starting with 1991's No More Tears, which enjoyed much radio and MTV exposure. It also initiated a practice of bringing in outside composers to help pen Osbourne's solo material, instead of relying solely upon his recording ensemble to write and arrange the music. The album was mixed by veteran rock producer Michael Wagener, who also mixed the Live and Loud album which followed in 1993. It went platinum several times over, and ranked at #10 on that year's Billboard rock charts. At this point Osbourne expressed his fatigue with the process of touring, and proclaimed his "retirement", which was to be short-lived. Osbourne's entire CD catalogue was remastered and reissued in 1995. Also that year, he released Ozzmosis and went on stage again, dubbing his concert performances "The Retirement Sucks Tour". A greatest hits package, The Ozzman Cometh was issued in 1997. Osbourne's biggest financial success of the 1990s was a venture named Ozzfest, created and managed by his wife/manager Sharon and assisted loosely by his son Jack. Ozzfest was a quick hit with metal fans, spurring up-and-coming groups like Incubus and Slipknot to broad exposure and commercial success. Some acts even had the pleasure to share the bill with a reformed Black Sabbath. Osbourne reunited with the original members of Sabbath in 1997 and has performed periodically with the band ever since. Since its start, five million people have attended Ozzfest, which has grossed over US$100 million.
The festival also helped promote many new hard rock and heavy metal acts of the late 1990s and early 2000s, including System of a Down, Drowning Pool, Limp Bizkit, Korn, Disturbed, HIM, Linkin Park, Papa Roach, Velvet Revolver, Godsmack, Avenged Sevenfold, Otep, and Slipknot. Up until the 2006 tour, Osbourne was always the headlining artist (either solo or with Black Sabbath) as the headliner, it has also featured other famous artists such as Danzig, Sepultura, Marilyn Manson, Pantera, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Slayer and Megadeth. Ozzfest also helped Osbourne to become the first hard rock star to hit US$50 million in merchandise sales. Osbourne's first album of new studio material in seven years, 2001's Down to Earth, met with only moderate success, as did its live follow up, Live at Budokan. On December 8, 2003, Osbourne was rushed into emergency surgery at Wexham Park Hospital in Slough when he was involved in an accident involving the use of his all-terrain vehicle on his estate in Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire, UK. Osbourne broke his collar bone, eight ribs, and a neck vertebra. An operation was performed to lift the collarbone, which was believed to be resting on a major artery and interrupting blood flow to the arm. Sharon later revealed that Osbourne had stopped breathing following the crash and was resuscitated by Osbourne's then personal bodyguard, Sam Ruston.
While in the hospital, Osbourne achieved his first ever UK number one single, a duet of the Black Sabbath ballad, "Changes" with daughter Kelly. In doing so, he broke the record of the longest period between an artist's first UK chart appearance (with Black Sabbath's "Paranoid", number four in August 1970) and their first number one hit; a gap of 33 years. Since the accident, he has fully recovered and headlined the 2004 Ozzfest, where he again reunited with Black Sabbath. He has also turned his hand to writing a Broadway musical. The reputed topic is that of the Russian monk Grigory Rasputin, who held sway with Russia's last royal Romanov family. In 2005, he released a box set called Prince of Darkness. The first and second discs are collections of live performances, B-sides, demos and singles. The third disc contained duets and other odd tracks with other artists, including "Born to Be Wild" with Miss Piggy. The fourth disc is entirely new material where Ozzy covers his favourite songs by his biggest influences and favourite bands, including The Beatles, John Lennon, David Bowie and others. He and wife Sharon starred in yet another MTV show, this time a competition reality show entitled "Battle for Ozzfest". A number of yet unsigned bands send one member to compete in a challenge to win a spot on the 2005 Ozzfest and a possible recording contract. In 2004, Osbourne received an NME award for "godlike genius".
Shortly after Ozzfest 2005, Osbourne announced that he will no longer headline Ozzfest. Although he announced his retirement from Ozzfest, Ozzy came back for one more year, 2006, albeit only closing for just over half the concerts, leaving the others to be closed by System of a Down (he also played the closing act for the second stage at the Randall's Island, NY performance on July 29). After the concert in Bristow, Virginia, Ozzy announced he will return for another year of Ozzfest in 2007. Although the cities, bands, and dates have not yet been confirmed [as of 2/24/07], according to the official website, (www.ozzfest.com) tickets for the 2007 tour will be offered to fans free of charge. In 2005, he was inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame along with Black Sabbath where he decided to moon the crowd because of their poor reception while they were playing. In March 2006, he said that he hopes to release a new studio album soon with long time on-off guitarist, Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society. In October 2006 it was announced that Tony Iommi, Ronnie James Dio, Vinny Appice and Geezer Butler would be touring together again though not as Black Sabbath but rather under the moniker 'Heaven and Hell (the title of Dio's first Black Sabbath album). The response to the news on Ozzy's website was that Ozzy wished Tony and Ronnie well and that there was only one Sabbath. The new Ozzy album, titled Black Rain, is currently set for release on May 22, 2007.
There will be 11 all-new songs on the album, including "Countdown's Begun", "Not Going Away", and "Lay Your World On Me", about Sharon Osbourne's recent cancer battles. Ozzy Osbourne's first new studio album in almost six years. "I thought I'd never write again without any stimulation," the recovering drugs aficionado told Billboard. "But you know what? Instead of picking of the bottle I just got honest and said, 'I don't want life to go (to pieces).'"  On May 24, he will be an honoree at the second annual VH1 Rock Honors, along with Genesis, Heart and ZZ Top. Ozzy made more than a few well known rock bands famous by touring with them as opening acts, and supporting their musical styles and success. In 1984, the opening band for the Bark at the Moon tour was Mötley Crüe, touring their second album, "Shout at the Devil". During The Ultimate Sin tour, Ozzy toured with Metallica, during their album Master of Puppets. Others include Soundgarden during their Badmotorfinger tour, and Korn, during their ADIDAS tour. During his 2007 tour he is to be supported by Black Label Society. Osbourne appeared at WrestleMania 2 in 1986, accompanying his fellow countrymen the British Bulldogs to the ring for their WWF Tag Team Championship match, along with their manager, "Captain" Lou Albano.