Always outrageous but equally compelling, its THE book to have on Ozzy, MTV's The Osbournes, and everything in between.
Meet the Osbournes: children Kelly and Jack, mother Sharon, and the father, none other than Godfather of Metal Ozzy Osbourne. Starring in MTV's most popular show ever, the Osbournes have proven that the family of a heavy metal superstar can teach America what parenting is all about with their new twist on family values.
So what's made Ozzy into such a great father? Experience. You name it, he's done it. He's bitten the heads off doves and bats, urinated on the Alamo (while wearing a woman's dress!), and been addicted to drink and drugs. With his first band, Black Sabbath, he practically invented heavy metal. As a solo performer, he's sold millions of albums, and helped turn the annual Ozzfest tour into one of the biggest events in music.
Learn how Ozzy went from being banned at the Alamo to a guest at the White House, from bats to Beverly Hills. It's all in here, with plenty of trivia-like why oldest daughter, Aimee, didn't want to be a part of series- and all the parenting tips any father needs to be as good a dad as Ozzy.
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Raised in England, Chris Nickson is a music journalist who’s also the author of many biographies. He lives with his family in Seattle.
Ozzy Knows Best
The Ozzman ComethIt's never been easy to be Ozzy.There have been the good times--plenty of them--and the bad times--plenty of those, too. Court cases and times in rehab have formed many of the lows, along with occasional swells of bad publicity. But they're all in the past, and the voice of heavy metal has come out the other side.Right from the beginning it was rough. In the years after World War II, England was a bleak, austere place. Even though they'd won the war, food rationing was still in effect, and everything else seemed in short supply, too. Where German bombs had fallen, there were still often craters and rubble.That was the world John Michael Osbourne was born into on December 3, 1948. Around him was Aston, part of the industrial city of Birmingham in the English Midlands. It wasn't pretty. A working-class area, it was made up of row houses whose bricks had been blackened over the years by pollution. Fourteen Lodge Road was no different from any of the other houses around it. That waswhere John Thomas Osbourne and his wife Lillian lived, and young John, the Ozzy to be, grew up with his five brothers and sisters--Paul, Tony, Jean, Iris, and Gillian.John Sr. was a machinist. He had steady, skilled work on the night shift, but the money wasn't that good. Lillian, too, worked a full-time day shift for Lucas, who made car parts and accessories. With six kids to feed, it seemed there was never enough of anything to go around, be it food, clothes, or any kind of luxury. It made for a lot of tension."You hear your mother crying because she has no dough to feed you," Ozzy would remember, years later. "Or my father and her always fighting over something. And I used to sit on the front steps all the time and think, 'One of these days I'm going to buy a Rolls Royce and drive them out of this s***hole'. And I did it."But while all the kids shared one bed in the tiny two-up, two-down house, which had a toilet outside in the tiny, concrete backyard, there was one escape--television. Somehow the Osbournes had scraped together enough to afford one of the sets, and young John was able to vanish into American programs like I Love Lucy, Lassie, and Roy Rogers, along with homegrown fare, such as Robin Hood.At school, John quickly picked up a couple of nicknames, both from his surname. For a while it was "Oz-brain," which soon became just Ozzy--a name so familiar now that if someone calls him John, he doesn't even respond.As students go, Ozzy wasn't the best. About the only thing he did love was music, at least after he--and the rest of England--discoveredthe Beatles. That changed his life. Before that, he said, his ambition was "to become a plumber. When I heard the Beatles I wanted to become a Beatle."He and millions of other boys wanted exactly the same thing--the fame and the fortune. Some, like his classmate, Tony Iommi, learned to play guitar. Ozzy just sang. Back then, though, no one was listening, not even Iommi, who used to make fun of Ozzy's voice, calling it high and girly. Which perhaps it was, in the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas Ozzy was a part of at school, taking roles in The Pirates of Penzance, H.M.S. Pinafore, and The Mikado. It was a long way from "Paranoid," but at least he was up on a stage. And he was making people happy, which he'd always tried to do as a boy."When I was a child at school, if people were miserable around me, I'd do some crazy things like jump through f***ing doorways, anything to make them amused--hang myself, anything, because I hate to see sad faces."Maybe Ozzy could have stayed in school. But he didn't want to. The constant arguments about money at home made him believe that if he brought home a wage, things might be better between his parents. So when he was fifteen, the lowest legal age to leave school, he quit, and began to try and fulfill his first ambition.You start a career at the bottom, and Ozzy--as everyone called him now--was no exception. To learn the trade of a plumber, you started in the lowly job of plumber's mate--handing over tools, making tea, and hopefully being shown how to do things. The pay was bad, and the work was worse.After a few months he'd had enough. Anything was better thanthis. At least, Ozzy thought so. And by the 1960s, with England starting to swing, and the economy booming, there were plenty of jobs, even for a kid with absolutely no qualifications. So Ozzy found employment in a slaughterhouse, where he found himself killing cattle and cutting out sheep guts.It was a long way removed from glamour and the fashionable King's Road in London. And it wasn't going to make him rich. It wasn't even going to make him comfortable.So he moved on again, joining his mother at the Lucas plant, where his job was tuning car horns. It had its appeal for a short while, but it would never be his favorite musical job. As he said later, "I liked heavy metal better because it was louder." He worked, he remembered, in "a soundproof booth. These f***ing car horns are coming down a conveyor belt, and you're in this f***ing chamber--a box, like something out of f***ing Flash Gordon. You take a car horn, put it in this clamp, and you tune this f***ing thing in to the dial."From there it was on to a series of other jobs, including a short stint at a crematorium--possibly the ideal training ground for a heavy metal icon who's long been associated (quite wrongly) with the Dark Side.But wherever he went, the money was terrible and the prospects seemed nonexistent. And the chances of him suddenly becoming a Beatle were slim. If he was going to get ahead fast, there seemed to be only one answer--a life of crime.The way to do it, he thought, was burglary--some sneaky breaking and entering when no one was home. He'd seen enough television to know that if you wore gloves, you didn't leave fingerprints. However,that only worked if the gloves you wore had fingers. Ozzy put on a pair of fingerless gloves for his first bite out of a life of crime.Unsurprisingly, with clues left all over the place, Ozzy was nabbed by the long arm of the law, and made his first court appearance. He got off lightly, having been given a fine. But without ajob, he had no money to pay it, and ended up in jail for three months.It should have been the short, sharp shock to send him scurrying back to the straight and narrow. Instead it became the scene of Ozzy's first artwork, with himself as the canvas. Using a sewing needle and powdered graphite--a method he definitely wouldn't recommend these days--he made his first tattoos. On the knuckles of one hand he inscribed OZZY. The palm of the other hand had the word THANKS. And on each knee he etched a smiley face; he did those, he claimed, so he'd see something happy when he woke up each morning.Released, but now with a prison record, he decided he'd learned from his mistake. Next time he'd be more careful. And he was, getting away with a television set. But in those days TVs were bulky, heavy items, awkward to handle alone, something Ozzy quickly discovered.Poised on top of a wall, trying to balance himself and the set, he fell. So did the TV--right on top of him. Which was the way the police discovered Ozzy a little while later. That landed him in Birmingham's Winson Green prison for two months. And it wasn't the last time young Ozzy would end up behind bars. No sooner had he gotten out than he was back inside for punching a police officer in the face.HOW TO BE AN OZZY PARENT:Tell your kids not to do the crime if they can't do the time. They have to learn to be responsible for their own actions.It was 1967, and flower power was in the air. The Beatles were the biggest group in the world. Pop stars were being treated like royalty, all over the papers with money to burn. Out of jail again, an eighteen-year-old Ozzy knew two things--he didn't want to see the inside of a cell again, and he wanted to break into music.But with no job and no contacts, it didn't look as though success was going to be tapping him on the shoulder anytime soon. But just like becoming a plumber, rock'n'roll required an apprenticeship.The first stage happened when Ozzy, still jobless, was walking around the Birmingham streets. He ran into a friend he'd known at school, who announced he'd started a band called Approach. All they lacked was a singer.And that was easily remedied.Ozzy could sing. And he wanted in.There was only one problem. He didn't have an amplifier or a microphone for his voice, which he needed to be heard above the electric guitars and drums. Nor did he have any money to buy one.But his father did.It was probably a surprise to Ozzy when his father agreed tospend $50--hard-earned money in those days--to buy his son the equipment he needed for his new career. But he happily accepted the gift. Oz was set and ready to become a star.At least until he began playing with the band. Approach, as he quickly discovered, was a soul band. But even then Ozzy Osbourne wasn't a soul singer, by any stretch of the imagination. So they quickly parted ways. Then there was a short stint in a band called Music Machine, who rapidly went nowhere.Frustrated, yet still determined to make his mark in music, Ozzy--who was now calling himself Ozzy Zig--decided to follow the time-honored route for finding other musicians to play with, by placing an ad in a music shop.OZZY ZIG--VOCALIST--REQUIRES BAND--OWNS OWN P.A.With a microphone and amp, he was maybe stretching the truth a little on the P.A. system, but it was still more than most amateur singers had. The ad did bring results, though. Ozzy was contacted by another guy his age, Terrence Butler, known to everyone as Geezer. He'd been playing guitar for six months, and he was eager to start a band.So that was what he and Ozzy did, starting their own band and naming it Rare Breed.Like so many groups, Rare Breed died quickly, after just two shows. But Ozzy and Geezer had become friends. They knew they had something, even if they didn't know what it was.Meanwhile, Tony Iommi, who just a few years before had mocked Ozzy's voice, was also trying to make his living from music. So far he'd done better than Ozzy. He'd teamed up with drummer William Ward--Bill to his mates--a lorry driver's assistant, andtogether they'd formed a group called the Rest, along with a singer named Chris Smith. A blues band, they'd moved north to Carlisle--near the Scottish border--and established themselves on the local circuit after changing their name to the more ambiguous Mythology.All good things come to an end, and Mythology ground to a halt. When it was over, Tony and Bill made their way back to the familiar ground of Birmingham, where Iommi spotted Ozzy's notice in the music store, and just hoped it wasn't the same kid he'd known at school, who sang like a girl.Of course it was.And to make matters worse, Ozzy had short hair, which wasn't good for a band's image at the time.He wasn't cool.Needless to say, their meeting didn't go well.Still, that didn't stop Ozzy and Geezer from turning up at Tony's house a few days later. They needed a drummer, and hoped Tony might know of one. As it turned out, Bill was there, and he agreed to join their group. There was one condition--Tony had to be a part of it, too.So it was Ozzy, Geezer, Tony, and Bill.And, it turned out, there was a slide guitar player and a saxophonist, too, not exactly a lineup of metal legend. But that wasn't the intention when they came together. Instead, they headed back to Carlisle, where Mythology had been big, and tried to pick up where the earlier band had left off, a piece of some local fame, along with some money.It didn't work. They disbanded, which turned out to be a rusesimply to get rid of the slide player and saxist. Then they reformed, calling themselves the Polka Tulk Blues Band (according to legend, the name came from a tin of talcum powder Ozzy found in a dustbin), that quickly changed to Earth, and Butler moved to bass. Since he couldn't actually afford a real bass guitar, he took off the top two strings of his six-string, and retuned it."The stuff we had when we first started was all twelve-bar blues," recalled Geezer Butler. "We used to do a lot of Willie Dixon songs, Howlin' Wolf, Lightnin' Hopkins, and Muddy Waters. We learned them from listening to the records. They were easy to play. When we first came together we formed in one day and had a gig a week later. We never had played together so we learned eighteen twelve-bar blues numbers in a week." But with just three chords and a lot of repetition, that wasn't difficult.Although Ozzy was the front man, he didn't always have a lot to do. In the style of the day, Earth jammed a lot onstage. As Tony Iommi said, "it was mainly instrumental. We'd do a bit of vocals and then ten minutes of instrumental. It was good for us to do that."They'd started. But it was still a hard row to hoe. What they needed next was somewhere to play, and that proved to be a Birmingham venue called Henry's Blues House, located in the center of town. It was owned by Jim Simpson, a jazz musician, and the band not only approached him for a gig at the club, but also to manage them. He gave them a big break, a slot opening for Ten Years After, then one of the big underground blues-rock bands."Ten Years After was one of our heroes," Iommi recalled. "Alvin Lee was billed as 'the fastest guitar in Britain.' One of our bigbreaks was when we did a gig with him. We supported Ten Years After and they really liked what we were doing. Alvin Lee got us a gig at the Marquee in London. That sort of started the ball rolling for us."Simpson began managing them, but it couldn't be said that he was a major fan."Ozzy had no technical qualifications really," he said. "At least Tony or Geezer could play their scales or a B flat chord. Ozzy wouldn't know what a chord was if it fell out of the sky and hit him on the head. He knew nothing about music whatsoever. All he had was feel. But he had far more going for him than the rest of the band. The band, in my opinion, was purely Ozzy."For a couple of weeks, however, the band almost wasn't anything, as Tony Iommi was recruited by another young band, Jethro Tull, to fill the guitar slot left open by the departure of Mick Abrahams. He even made one appearance with them, on the Rolling Stones' Rock and Roll Circus, although it took around three decades for it to appear.But he returned quickly, and the band continued playing Henry's Blues House--supposedly recording a jazzy demo for their manager called "Song for Jim," their first time in a studio. At least that was what they thought until some fans turned up and said they liked their new single. That came as a surprise, since as far as the band knew, they didn't have a single.Another band called Earth did, however, and that meant a name change was in order. They'd seen a poster for a Boris Karloff movie called Black Sabbath, and decided to use that (Geezer's interestin the occult through the black magic novels of Dennis Wheatley was reportedly also a factor). And so the band metalheads idolize, even today, was finally born.They were still playing blues material, churning out songs based around three chords. But they were also...
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