After nearly 45 years of making music, making mayhem and riding the kind of rock ’n’ roll “Crazy Train” that has few peers, Ozzy Osbourne is the first to acknowledge that his very existence “is a (expletive) miracle.”
“With everything I’ve done and gone through, I’m just a very lucky guy I’m not 6 feet under shoving up (expletive) daisies, y’know?” says Osbourne, 62, who’s sold more than 100 million albums worldwide on his own and as part of the band Black Sabbath, with whom he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.
“I’m like the laboratory rat that survived.”
More than surviving, however, Osbourne is thriving and more visible than ever these days.
During the past year alone he published a frank, funny and award-winning autobiography, “I Am Ozzy,” that debuted at No. 2 on the New York Times Bestseller list and is rumored to be headed to the big screen, produced by his wife and manager Sharon Osbourne. He also released his 10th studio album, “Scream” — leading a Dodger Stadium throng in Los Angeles in setting a Guinness World Record for the longest scream by a crowd last June 11 and receiving a Grammy Award nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance for the single “I Want to Hear You Scream.”
In addition to those, Osbourne guested on 2010 albums by former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash (see sidebar) and Eminem. He recently appeared with teen sensation Justin Bieber in a Super Bowl ad for Best Buy and voices a character in the new animated film “Gnomeo & Juliet.” But, given his sordid past of substance abuse, the self-anointed “Prince of (expletive) Darkness” has really raised eyebrows by writing a weekly “Ask Dr. Ozzy” health column for Britain’s Sunday Times, which is occasionally picked up by Rolling Stone magazine and is slated to be compiled for his next book.
“It’s not serious,” Osbourne, who suffers with Parkin Syndrome, a disorder similar to Parkinson’s disease, says of the endeavor. “I mean, I’m the last (expletive) person to ask for help. I’m not a (expletive) doctor. I don’t know what I’m talking about most of the time ...
“But a lot of what I talk about is basically common sense. I know when you’re in that hole you want somebody to help you out of it, and it’s very hard for a lot of people to ask for help. So if they feel like they can ask me and I can give somebody some sensible information, maybe I can help, you know?”
What you probably won’t see Osbourne doing in the near future, he claims, is more TV work. Despite his myriad musical success, his greatest fame came from “The Osbournes,” an MTV reality show that aired from 2002-2005, showcasing the family chaos — however real or staged — and Osbourne’s own predilection for profanity and cheerfully erratic behavior, earning he and Sharon a place on the Sunday Times’ list of Britain’s richest couples.
Osbourne has said he spent nearly all of the show’s taping stoned, and after the family’s subsequent attempt at a variety show, “Osbournes: Reloaded” in 2009, failed, he’s put television in his rearview mirror.
“I never say never,” explains the twice-married father of six, “but I’ve got to be honest; I’m not really keen on TV. That ‘Reloaded’ (expletive) thing, I didn’t want to do that in the first place. When they canned the show, thank God, I was happy about that.
“I’m not the television guy, you know? My main thing is music and rock ‘n’ roll. I was always surprised (‘The Osbournes’) took off in the first place. I still, to be honest with you, don’t understand how it happened the way it did. And people didn’t have a clue I was involved in rock ‘n’ roll all my life; they’d stop me in the street and say, ‘What are you doing now?’ ‘Oh, I’m doing my rock ‘n’ roll.’ ‘Oh, are you doing that as well?’
“It amazed me that people only knew me from the TV show. I don’t really like that.”
“Scream” has certainly put Osbourne back on the rock ‘n’ roll map. Produced with Kevin Churko and recorded with a new band that includes guitarist Gus G of Firewind stepping in for longtime collaborator Zakk Wylde, it finds Osbourne purposefully declaring “I’m a rock star” and hitting hard with anthems such as “Let Me Hear You Scream,” “Soul Sucker,” “Fearless” and “Let It Die.” He’s happy with the results, but Osbourne says that they weren’t necessarily by design.
“You know, throughout my career the most memorable things I’ve done have come out of nowhere,” he explains. “On the ‘Scream’ album I didn’t go, ‘I want it to sound like this. I want it to sound like that.’ I can hear Sabbath. I can hear my solo stuff. I can hear contemporary things.
“Being Ozzy Osbourne, you’re very limited to what you can explore. If you try to be too clever, people will go, ‘Oh, it sounds too progressive.’ I mean, I couldn’t be (expletive) progressive if I tried to. But people like Ozzy to sound a certain way, so that’s what we’ve given them.”
Osbourne plans to keep “Scream”-ing into the summer, with a North American tour to be followed by a European festival swing and, most likely, an OZZfest event in the U.S. And there’s more on his docket: he’s cooperating with his son, Jack, on a documentary tentatively titled “Wreckage Of My Past,” while another Black Sabbath reunion is possible since patching up recent legal differences with guitarist Tony Iommi.
“You couldn’t invent my story,” Osbourne notes. “I came from a very low, working-class family, and I remember I would sit on my doorstep thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if Paul McCartney were to marry my sister,’ all these silly daydreams kids have. I thought, ‘It must be so cool to be a Beatle,’ probably what all people think about rock ‘n’ rollers, even today.
“And here I am. It happened. So when people say, ‘What advice can you give me?’ I tell them that most of my dreams came true, or more, so if you have dreams keep believing in them and sometimes — not every time but sometimes — they do come true. I’ll stand by that.”
Ozzy Osbourne and Slash perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 12, at the Palace, Lapeer Road at I-75, Auburn Hills. Tickets are $29.50-$75. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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