Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Summer School of Rock - Ozzy Osbourne

He's known as The Prince of Darkness, The Godfather of Heavy Metal, or simply Ozzy.  He's one of the artists who's earned the single name, as no one needs to speak his last name to know who you are talking about.  There is only one Ozzy.

He's had a career that has lasted over 40 years and is one of the most dynamic stage presences in the history of music.

John Michael Osbourne picked up his nickname in school, where he struggled with learning disabilities and dyslexia.  Drawn more to the stage than academics, he would drop out at the age of 15.  He formed his first band a few years later, that would later become Black Sabbath.

Geezer Butler read a book about the occult and he and Ozzy found that people had a strange fascination with it.  They starting writing songs that were heavier, darker, all infused with Ozzy's eerie sounding voice.  Black Sabbath rose to fame quickly, though their first few albums didn't receive much critical acclaim.

They had a way of disturbing people, of getting under their skin.  Their lyrics and antics didn't sit well with many people.  By the late 70's, they were so drugged out that they could hardly get through recording sessions.  Their tour with Van Halen in 78' was deemed uninspired.  Ozzy was fired from the band, the others claiming his drug use was interfering too much.

Ozzy picked himself up, found new musicians and recorded Blizzard of Ozz.  The album never had a single Top 40 hit, but would become one of the best selling albums of the 80's.  His most famous song, Crazy Train, comes from that album.

One of my proudest moments as a mother was the morning my three year old woke me up playing air guitar standing on my bed,

dun dun. dun dun. dun dun dun dun. aiiii-aiiiiiii-aiiiiiiiii

It was also around the start of his solo career that he began biting the heads off animals.  A dove after signing a record deal, and a bat on stage.  He was heavily criticized for these acts, and often accused of promoting Satanism, and accusation that began back in the early days of Black Sabbath.

He successfully defended two lawsuits brought by families of young men who committed suicide, alleging that his music drove them to take their lives.  Though the courts sided with Ozzy, it was just another reason for a lot of people to hate him.

During the tour for Diary of a Madman, guitarist Randy Rhodes was killed in a plane crash that resulted from low passes over the tour bus.  Buzzing the bus with cocaine in his system turned out to not be such a good idea, but it was part of the catalyst to get Ozzy to clean up his own act.

By the 90's, he was playing with so may musicians from different bands that he finally decided to start Ozzfest - one of the most successful and longest running heavy metal festivals in the world.

He is still recording and performing now as a solo artist, as well as a rumored Black Sabbath reunion tour and album.

Ozzy gained a new audience with the MTV reality show The Osbournes, though he claims that he's never seen a single episode of it himself.  He claims he was stoned the entire time, which is plausible given his life long struggles with drug and alcohol abuse.  He is said to be sober now.

Ozzy was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with the other members of Black Sabbath in 2006.

I love you all, but you're all f***ing mad.  ~Ozzy

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