At the beginning of his latest album, “Black Rain,” Ozzy Osbourne announces to the world that “I don’t know what I’m doing/ All I know is I don’t wanna stop.”
And the veteran hard rocker hasn’t, despite the kind of circumstances that have felled many of his peers.
During a 40-year career, which began in 1968 with the band Black Sabbath, the Birmingham, England-born Osbourne has survived debilitating
box set in 2005, and “The Osbournes,” the popular MTV reality show that aired between 2002-2005 and also made stars of his wife and manager Sharon and their children Jack and Kelly (Aimee, their oldest child, opted to sit out).
But the past few years have also been marked by talk of Osbourne, 59, scaling back and perhaps even quitting entirely. Last year, he even went to a part-time schedule on OZZFest, playing a little more than half the shows.
Now, however, Osbourne notes with a laugh that “I tried retirement. It sucks. I’m lucky at my age to still be doing gigs, you know? I just love to see the kids. It’s sort of a challenge for me.”
This year’s challenge is stepping out of OZZFest and playing his own arena shows for the first time in North America since 2001’s Merry Mayhem tour. The 40-show trek, he says, stemmed from simply telling Sharon that “one thing I really miss is doing arenas, ’cause the OZZFest ... we didn’t think it would last nowhere as long as it did. I just said, ‘I’d love to do an arena tour.’ It’s part of what rock ’n’ roll’s about.”
Then he adds with another laugh, “Sometimes you’ve gotta be careful what you wish for around here. Some of the time, it happens.”
Osbourne notes that the chief obstacles he faces these days are a body that’s slammed its way around the stage for many years and a mind that’s been battered by drugs and alcohol.
“I suffer from ADHD, whatever that is, and really bad dyslexia,” he explains. “All I do all day is vegetate in front of the TV set ... I don’t watch many entertainment things. I like to watch the History Channel and documentaries about things.”
Osbourne acknowledges that he’s also “terribly full of fear — a fear of what, I have no idea — and that’s why I think I’ll go crazy sometimes. I mean it’s kind of like a release, you know? I found that I was drinking booze and taking dope to self-medicate myself, but I couldn’t have carried out any further. I mean if it wasn’t for my wife, Sharon, I would’ve been dead a long time ago.”
His voice, meanwhile, is also a constant concern.
“Sometimes it blows out,” Osbourne acknowledges. “I now have a vocal coach, and I do the best I can. When you get older, your range drops a bit. I’ve got air problems. Sometimes I’m out there, and I’m like, ‘Oh my God ...’
“Sometimes I sound ... terrible, and sometimes it’s good. But I just try my best.”
Osbourne will be doing that for the foreseeable future, too. He plans to headline the 2008 edition of OZZFest, which he predicts will remain a free affair like it was this year. But there are also rumors of some sort of Black Sabbath activity in the new year, which Osbourne — who left the band in 1979 and began performing with it again in 1997 — says he would welcome, under certain conditions.
“I’d love to do another Black Sabbath album,” Osbourne says. “We did try and write together; there are a bunch of things written. But the problem I’m having is it’s got to be at least on the same level as when we departed. If it’s not, then what’s the point in doing it ...
“I’m definitely doing another album, whether with my own band or Sabbath. As long as I’m not doing bulls***...”
So the self-proclaimed madman will maintain. And even though his brother-inlaw David Arden told British reporters that Sharon is overworking him and “will keep Ozzy on the road until ... he dies onstage,” Osbourne says he continues working at his own pleasure.
“Let me put this straight; my wife does not get involved with telling me about working,” Osbourne said.
“My wife can’t make me do anything I don’t want to do. I think that guy needs to see a psychiatrist.”
Ozzy Osbourne and Rob Zombie perform at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday (Dec. 18) at Joe Louis Arena, 600 Civic Center Drive, Detroit. Tickets are $89.75, $69.75 and $39.75. Call (313) 471-6606 or visit www.olympiaentertainment.com.
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