The world moves in mysterious ways. Ozzy Osbourne has just announced his farewell tour The No More Tours 2, has been rescheduled to 2022 due to Covid restrictions. This will time it to be the 30th anniversary of his first goodbye tour back in 1992. Black Sabbath’s seminal album, Paranoid is celebrating its 50th birthday. But Ozzy is still proving he really is no, Ordinary Man – the title of his latest album released earlier this year. It’s his first new solo music in nearly ten years and he is joined by a host of musician friends, including a few surprises!
Andy Threlfall dived into the world of Ozzy, well before the launch of Ordinary Man, when a normal life with the Prince of Darkness was taken for granted, chatting on the phone with the legendary singer about concerts in the rain, his daily exercise regime, Premier League football, Rasputin, Billy Elliot and why one final reality tv show isn’t, entirely, ruled out.
A: Hello Ozzy
O: Hey Andy sounds like you’re talking out of the fucking bath.
A: You must be looking back in pride playing the big shows like Download?
O: I was just thinking that it was in 2002 when Black Sabbath played Castle Donnington and the weather was fucking miserable. What with the wind and rain I think we did really well because it was a hard show and the kids down at the front were getting fucking soaked. Playing in England is always about the weather. We played a festival at Milton Keynes the time before 2002 and the weather was fucking great. We’d always rehearse with Sabbath in Monmouthshire and the weather was always fantastic.
A: Surely it’s got a touch boring playing the big Sabbath numbers that are now 40 or even 50 years old like Paranoid?
O: Whether it gets boring or not songs like War Pigs and Paranoid are all we’ve got. A lot of our fans asked me not to open the set with War Pigs. But I was only with Sabbath for a few years and even fewer albums because they went on for ages without me! So we only had a certain number of songs that we could play. In the past I’ve tried to get away from playing songs like Paranoid but if I’m honest it’s impossible to get away from it.
A: Ozzy you had Billy Idol playing on the Download Bill with you that year.
O: I’ve had what?
A: Billy Idol?
O: I can’t understand a word your saying.
A: You had Billy. That’s Billy as in William. Idol. Playing.
O: William? William who?
A: No Billy Idol. From Generation X.
O: (Totally bemused by now) The original Sabbath line-up were playing if that’s what you were asking.
A: And Billy Idol your old mate from LA?
O: Ohhhhhh. Billy Idol. Yeah I’ve known Billy for a long time. I’ve met him several times actually in, he’s a nice guy.
A: Do you think he’s calmed down recently like yourself?
O: I don’t know because I haven’t seen him in person for years. But I saw him on the telly the other day and he looked good.
A: Was there anything in particular on the Sabbath rider?
O: Not really all I needed was just a dressing room and a couple of bottles of water. I don’t need a Beggars Banquet or anything backstage!
A: So there’s no spinal tap behavior these days. You know the kind of thing; having someone pick out the red M’n’M’s?
O: No that’s for Fucking idiots. I’m sure some bands back in what I call the ridiculous era in the 70’s wanted that sort of thing. To me, it’s a case of just going out there and playing the best you can. Sometimes you pull it off sometimes you don’t. At this stage, I’m not having someone there to count how many yellow MnM’s I have in a fucking jar!
A: Would it be fair to assume that you usually performed on a stage set surrounded by a classic Hammer Horror back-drop full of crucifixes and the like?
O: Are you smoking dope or something? The person you should talk to is my wife Sharon because she’s the one who decided what was involved visually along with the set designers.
A: You had a four CD box set called Prince of Darkness and the whole of CD3 is dedicated to duets with a very eclectic range of singing partners from Lemmy of Motorhead fame to Miss Piggy of, er, Muppet fame. Is there anyone left, or anything, you really want to collaborate with in the future?
O: Er, not really no.
A: What about Elton John who has become a close friend of the family?
O: I haven’t really thought about it. If he wanted me to sing on one of his tracks or vice versa it wouldn’t be a problem.
– Elton John features on the title track of Ozzy’s new album, Ordinary Man
A: In your opinion what’s the one song that should never be covered?
O: A Whiter Shade Of Pale by Procal Harem. It’s been covered by so many people and I was tempted but it’s been over-covered so I decided not to. It’s difficult with covers, even doing one of you own material. Take the song Changes which was originally on Sabbath 1V in the 70s. I have attempted it a few times since those days but I think the one with Kelly which was my third attempt is perfect.
A: Would you ever accept an offer to sing for the movies or even to be the voice for an animated character?
O: If it was the right offer I’d do it.
A: Could you see yourself being a creature like the Lion in the Lion King?
O: Yeah I suppose so because it’s all part of the job.
A: How do you feel about splitting your time between living in LA and the British countryside?
O: I’ve got the best of both worlds. I keep saying to Sharon ‘Where do you think we’ll end our days?’ She said she likes the present situation where we can just fly between the two. To which I replied ‘If you and I make it to eighty I can’t imagine flying back and forward over the Atlantic all the time.’ We’ll see.
A: Would you ever consider buying a third home on an idyllic desert island away from media attention?
O: No because when I’m in it I wanna be out and when I’m out I wanna be in! I’m never happy. When the paparazzi get on my nerves I get pissed off but the time to worry is when they say ‘Oh we don’t wanna fucking follow him’. I don’t try to rise above the rubbish that is written about us. I just don’t read it. Nine times out of ten they get it wrong and people come up to me and ask about stuff but half the time I don’t know what the fuck they are talking about.
A: So what’s the most outrageous thing you’ve read about yourself recently?
O: Biting the heads off bats and singing with Miss Piggy but not at the same time. I thought the bat question had gone away for good but then out of the blue some interviewer asked (in a posh voice) ‘So Ozzy, what do bats really taste like?’ and I was thinking ‘Oh fuck off.’
A: Have you stepped up your personal training?
O: I’m very self-conscious about exercise. I don’t do much wrong anymore: I don’t drink or smoke or take drugs. I saw the movie Supersize Me and I have eaten fucking McDonald’s but what really pisses me off about McDonald’s is that it’s not food really aimed for me. It’s more food directed to kids. The film made me wonder how kids are gonna turn out if that’s what the food can do to you in just 28 days. Traveling back and forwards across the Atlantic I’ve noticed that in the UK we are fast catching up with the obesity problem in the states. I don’t know if that is because the portions are getting bigger or whether there is just an abundance of food. Sharon and I are interested in this subject but we are not politicians so I can’t see us getting directly involved in raising awareness on this issue. I can understand people who say ‘well, fuck Ozzy he can afford to eat what he likes and we can only afford a McDonalds’. I understand that if you’re hungry enough and you’ve got no money you’ll eat the cheapest thing out there.
A: Were you a fat little kid or an athletic sporty type growing up?
O: I was just a kid. There wasn’t that much food to put in front of me because we couldn’t afford it. I quit smoking because I didn’t like the way I was feeling in the morning. All I can do now is try and better myself.
A: Were you surprised to see a smoking ban in public places like in California?
O: The thing about the ban is that I quit smoking because I had to keep going out of the fucking restaurant to have a smoke. But at the same time, it’s hypocrisy in the states because they get down on you for second-hand smoke but you can also go buy a gun, register your name and blow a hole through the wall! I’d rather take second-hand smoke rather than a ricochet bullet. I never go to pubs anymore so I never get a whiff of smoke in my lungs. Just before it changed in the UK I was in a restaurant in London and this woman at the next table was smoking and I said to Sharon ‘Fucking hell, that’s really rare, you don’t see that too often.’ Then she went from a cigarette to a fucking cigar! I thought ‘Bloody hell, I better go home before she fucking sets herself on fire!’
A: Did you feel restricted after your quad bike accident, especially when it came to headbanging?
O: Oh yeah that accident fucking knocked the shit out of me you know. But I didn’t really think about the effects of head banging. I didn’t think ‘Oh careful Ozzy you’re gonna hurt yourself!’ If I felt like doing it I just did it. That’s the beauty of headbanging!
A: What do you miss most about Britain?
O: I like the way the British don’t have any bullshit. They are very straight to the point here. I don’t often get the chance to go back to the Midlands where I’m from because when I’m over here I get off the plane do the work and go back. But wherever I am in the world I always phone my sisters at least once a week. Usually, every Sunday to check how the family are. I need to check on them to see if they are still doing their singing routine!
A: Were you ever a big football fan and do you watch the premier league over in LA?
O: I saw the Liverpool vs Milan champions league final and it must be the greatest game ever, ever, ever. Talk about coming back from the dead and then kicking their fucking arses! It’s what champions are made of, that ability to come back. I was at rehearsals watching the game and Sharon said to me in half time ‘Oh fuck this Ozzy I’m going home, it’s half time and they are three-nil up’. I was an Aston Villa fan as a kid but I had no choice because they were just three streets from my house. I watch the premier league games on satellite while I’m on the treadmill in LA. It’s great stuff.
A: So what other projects have you had on the go for years?
O: I was trying to complete a project I’d been working on with a guy who worked with Sharon on the X- Factor
A: About What?
O: About Rasputin the Mad Monk.
A: What the guy from Russia folklore?
O: Yeah! You know the guy with the funny coloured beard?
A: Right, you mean the bloke that Boney M sang about as in ‘Ra Ra Rasputin, Russia’s greatest love machine.’ Who are you co-writing the music with?
O: I just told you. The guy with the weird beard.
A: I thought you meant Rasputin had the weird beard. What’s the name of the other guy?
O: What guy?
A: The guy with the weird beard?
O: Oh that guy, his name was Mark Hudson. I was inspired to write about Rasputin after I saw a BBC documentary about him. Have you seen Billy Elliot yet? I went to see it and it was fucking great. It’s the best musical I’ve ever seen. The choreography is brilliant and there were some very political things about Margaret Thatcher too. It was fucking great.
A: How are your old mates from Sabbath these days?
O: Yeah it’s fucking great to see the guys again: Tony, Bill and Geezer really don’t seem to have aged. When we did a reunion a few years ago it was fantastic because we all became friends again. We aren’t Godparents to our kids or anything like that. We’ve just known each other from school. Tony was in the year above me so I’ve known him a little longer.
A: When it’s been a while since you’ve all seen each other do they take the piss out of you and bring you back down to ground?
O: No not really. We are just really, really good friends.
A: Would you ever do another reality show?
O: It depends what it was about. If it wasn’t hokey, I might, but it would have to be something interesting.
A: Is there anything that made you cry with pain or pleasure on the TV show?
O: I honestly never watched the Osbournes shows. I don’t like watching myself on TV. I remember when Sharon had colon cancer and I allowed the cameras to continue to film. That would probably be the hardest to watch. However, the best thing about doing The Osbournes show is that my kids will one day be able to play it to their kids.
A: Do you see any reason why the four of you in Black Sabbath can’t still be doing this twenty years from now?
O: Well I really don’t think I’m gonna be around in twenty years. It would be nice and maybe they could do a reality show in an old aged home called The Dying Ozzy Show.
No More Tours 2 tour details and updates can be found at www.ozzy.com