From his homeland of the midlands, factory work and Black Sabbath, right through to his solo career; we take a glance at The Prince Of Darkness’ top moments in this ultimate Ozzy timeline.
1948 – 1970
John Michael Osbourne was born in the city of Birmingham, son of an industrial toolmaker and ‘Lucas Factory’ worker, he is the fourth of six Osbourne children. The nickname Ozzy derived from elementary school.
Leaving school at 15, Ozzy pursued a number of trades until landing on his feet as a vocalist in 1968 for new rock band Polka Tulk Blues, named after a brand of talc that Ozzy’s mum used. After working out a few kinks, the band renamed as Earth.
An experimental period ensued whilst the group, consisting of Terence ‘Geezer’ Butler, Tony Iommi and Bill Ward, found their sound. Rooting in amplified, hard-driving rhythms they started to catch the attention of fans and record companies alike.
After a bizarre dream, the song ‘Black Sabbath’ was born, which the group promptly re-branded to after discovering the name Earth was already in use. It’s unclear whether it was their fandom for novelist Dennis Wheatley, a psychedelic dream, or paying homage to the Boris Karloff film that inspired the single’s name.
1970 – 1978
Recorded in two days, Black Sabbath released their debut self-titled album, which hit Number 8 in the UK charts and later became certified gold in the UK and platinum in the US.
Next up, ‘Paranoid’ was released in October 1970 and reached Number 1 in the UK charts, a huge milestone in heavy metal. The LP helped shape the genre as we know it today, with singles like ‘Iron Man’, ‘War Pigs’ and the title track, which reached Number 4 in the UK charts. In March 1971 the LP reached Number 12 in the US charts despite having ‘virtually no airplay’.
From 1971 – 1978 a further 6 albums were released and the group toured the states tirelessly. In late 1977 Ozzy left the band, reportedly reeling from drug abuse and excessive drinking. He was officially ousted in 1979.
1978 – 2011
Signed to Don Arden’s Jet Records, Arden flew his daughter Sharon to Los Angeles to look after Ozzy. Forming a new supergroup with Gary Moore, Lee Kerslake, Bob Daisley, Don Airey and Randy Rhoads (and rejecting the name ‘Son of Sabbath’), The Blizzard of Ozz was formed. The record company dropped ‘the’ and credited the album under Ozzy’s name, thus launching his solo career. The album was successful, reaching Number 7 in the UK charts, by 1997 it had become quadruple platinum in the US and in 2017 was ranked in Rolling Stone’s ‘100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time’.
Next up was Ozzy’s second solo album, ‘Diary of a Madman’ which is reported to be his favourite. Following a tragic plane crash whilst on the Diary of a Madman tour, Rhoads was killed, and the tour was cancelled for 2 weeks whilst the band grieved the loss of their close friend and bandmate. Selecting Brad Gillis to finish the tour, the 1982 live album ‘Speak of the Devil’ was later released alongside a live tribute album for Rhoads.
1982 was also the year that Ozzy and Sharon wed in Maui, Hawaii and from 1983 – 1985 they had three children, Aimee, Kelly and Jack.
Between 1986 – 2010, Ozzy released 9 further albums, most notably ‘No More Tears’ 1991, ‘The Ultimate Sin’ 1986 and ‘Bark at the Moon’ 1983.
In 1992, during the California show, all the original members of Black Sabbath surprised the audience and performed ‘Black Sabbath’, ‘Fairies Wear Boots’, ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Paranoid’.
In 1993 Ozzy retired.
…But it wasn’t for long. In 1995 Ozzy came out of retirement, “retirement sucks” with the Ozzmosis tour. Then, after a failed attempt to get Ozzy on the festival circuit, Sharon came up with ‘OzzFest’, a two-day heavy and hard rock festival held in Phoenix, Arizona and Devore in 1996.
The festival received commercial success and eventually came to the UK in 1998, 2001 and 2002. Previous artists who played included Slipknot, Pantera, Marilyn Manson (to some controversy), Godsmack, Rob Zombie, Linkin Park, System of a Down and Disturbed. It was aired in 2004 on MTV alongside a show called ‘Battle for Ozzfest’. Notorious years include 2005’s turbulent Iron Maiden performance and 2007’s free tickets. There was also an edition in Japan in 2012 and 2015.
Remember 2002 – 2005? The family’s MTV reality TV show was one of the channel’s most successful, hurling the featured Osbournes – Ozzy, Sharon, Kelly and Jack, into pop-culture stardom.
Also in 2002, Ozzy received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and an invite to a dinner at the White House in order to promote its work to protect animals. He performed the Black Sabbath anthem ‘Paranoid’ at Party at the Palace in the grounds of Buckingham Palace to commemorate the Golden Jubilee.
When in hospital after a considerable car crash, Ozzy achieved his first ever UK Number 1 single – his duet with daughter Kelly ‘Changes’.
In 2005, the Prince of Darkness was released, a collection of live tracks, B-sides, duets with Miss Piggy, covers of The Beatles and other creative oddities. He also dabbled in judging on The X Factor.
Also in 2005, Black Sabbath headlined a day of Download that was a takeover by Ozzfest.
Following a stint touring under the moniker Heaven and Hell with Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Ronnie James Dio and Vinny Appoce, Ozzy’s tenth album ‘Black Rain’ was released in 2007 to some acclaim. It was his highest US debut to date, featuring Zakk Wylde, Mike Bordin and Rob Nicholson. Ozzy also received his second and arguably most important pavement star in Birmingham as a tribute to his success. In 2010 his autobiography ‘I am Ozzy’ came out, in which he speculated there may be a Black Sabbath reunion with all four original members.
In 2011 Ozzy asked a question we’ve all once asked ourselves, and landed himself a commercial.
2011 also brought about the Black Sabbath reunion, featuring the original line up of Ozzy, Tony, Geezer and Bill.
2011 – 2018
Returning to Download in 2012, the band ‘took the audience on a sonic journey’ playing hits such as ‘Iron Man’, ‘Sweet Leaf’ and ‘Black Sabbath’.
2013 saw the release of ‘13’ with Brad Wilk (RATM) as the drummer and Rick Rubin as the producer. By September 2015, it was announced that Black Sabbath would embark on their final tour entitled ‘The End’ and that Osbourne, Iommi and Butler would return for their last UK show at Download 2016. Eventually Black Sabbath made a post on their social media accounts that the band had officially disbanded.
2018… hereby known as the year Ozzy Osbourne makes his first ever Download headline solo appearance alongside guitar extraordinaire Zakk Wylde, giving DLers an exclusive opportunity to see history in the making.
We’re not sure why you’re still reading this to be honest, tickets for Download 2018 are on sale now.