By Jeb Wright
Ozzy Osbourne sat down and chatted with Goldmine Magazine about the event that heavy metal fans around the world have been dreading … the official end of the band Black Sabbath. Where many bands and solo artists, including Ozzy, have said there would be no more tours and then went on to tour once again, Ozzy is adamant this won’t be the case for the Sabs.
In the interview that follows, Ozzy speaks with the familiar charm that the Prince of Darkness has always been able to muster up once the red light of the recorder comes on. Unlike many stars of his stature, however, Ozzy is always genuine, often humorous (sometimes not meaning to be), and very real.
In this chat we talk about leaving the concert stage with Sabbath for the last time, whether he regrets being the most famous drug addict in heavy metal history, and how Black Sabbath has decided to leave while they are still near the top of their game.
GOLDMINE: This is a bittersweet interview because the name of this tour is The End. I don’t want it to be the end…
Ozzy Osbourne: At the end of the day, Black Sabbath, when I left, we were a big driving force in the ’70s. It was dwindling and we needed to separate for a while. They went their way and I went my way. We both had our ups and downs in our careers. Sabbath has had more band members than I don’t know what, but that’s how things go. With the recent success of the “13” album, which was, believe it or not, makes this release the first No. 1 album for Sabbath or anyone’s solo career. We decided, at first, to do another album but we decided that would take too long, as it would be two or three years. Tony was then diagnosed with lymphoma and we didn’t know if he was going to pull through it. We decided not to do an album. Our “last recorded album” went to No. 1.
Tony recovered from lymphoma. I hope he has, I mean I am sure he has. We don’t like to talk about it much. He appears great. Tony is one of these guys who says, “Okay, Doc, what do I have to do?” And then he does it. We did our last tour around all of his doctor appointments. The one thing I am really happy about is that he didn’t get any worse. He says his doctors told him that he will always have the gene in him so it could come back. He’ll be alright.
GM: The fans will be able to purchase that new EP (left) at the concert.
OZZY: There are four tracks that never made the “13” album. One of them is called “Season of the Dead.” The next one is called “Cry All Night.” The third is “Take Me Home.” The fourth one is “Isolated Man.” There are four bonus tracks that are live tracks. They are “God is Dead,” “Under the Sun,” “End of the Beginning” and “Age of Reason.” You can only get this CD at the gigs. It is a bonus from the last album. That’s it.
GM: I understand the set list will have all of the classics, but that Sabbath is going to surprise the hardcore fans with some songs they have not played in decades.
OZZY: We are playing “After Forever” and “Hand of Doom.” We are doing a lot of stuff from the “Paranoid” album. On every album we did, we always did what we used to call an album track, which were songs that we were not going to play live. We are not doing all of “Paranoid,” but we are doing a lot of it. I have never sung “Hand of Doom” for what must be 45 years. When we did it in rehearsal, it just came back to me in a flash. Once you learn to ride a horse you never forget, you know?
GM: This tour is going to sell out around the world…
OZZY: I want you to know this: Don’t go, “Ah, these guys will get back together. I will see them next time.” No. This is the end of Sabbath. This is really the end.
GM: Do you realize the influence that you’ve had on heavy metal? Not just one generation or two generations, but all future generations as well. Ozzy, what you’ve done will live on forever. Do you realize what you’ve been a part of and done?
OZZY: No. I have got no idea … well, I do have an idea, but I kind of humble myself. If I go, “We did that” then I will fall on the floor. I am glad people remember us. When we did the Ozzfest, the bands would be like “Volume 4 was so important to me.” When you’re in the inside looking out, then you don’t have any idea of the importance of what you’ve done.
I have an even better example. When I was doing my solo career — before I got mega — Metallica opened for me. I would go by their dressing room and they would be playing a Sabbath album. I thought they were taking the piss out of me. I said to my assistant, “Are they joking with me?” He said, “Ozzy, they love you.” I said, “They love us? They love Sabbath?” Then it started to grow and grow and grow. I didn’t let it get on top of me though, as I was just happy to be doing it. It is weird. It is hard to get your head ‘round that.
GM: When I was 14 years old and buying Sabbath albums, I remember being drawn to you because you didn’t try to come across as a rock star. You were like a normal dude … a crazy, dark kinda dude, but a normal guy.
OZZY: Well, the thing is that I don’t like to treat people any less than I would like to be treated myself. What’s the point of it? I suppose I have an ego, but I don’t like to go, “Do you know who the f**k you’re talking to?” My wife would put a stop that. She’d go, “F**k off.” The truth of the matter is that if I am walking down the street and someone goes, “Hey, it’s Ozzy!” I will go, “Oh my, here we go.” But if I am walking down the street and they don’t recognize me then I am like, “Why didn’t they recognize me? Am I losing it?” That’s the truth. I like to be recognized by the fans. I said it on the last album, “I don’t want to live forever, but I don’t want to die.”
GM: There is one guy missing in Sabbath. Bill Ward is not in the band. Does that make you…?
OZZY: I don’t want to go there because every time I say something it gets posted on the Internet and then there is a big war. If you want to know about Bill Ward, and I am not being funny, but, I don’t want to get involved.
GM: I respect that, Ozzy. I was just going to ask if there was a part of you that was sad with how it worked out.
OZZY: Yeah, but I don’t really want to talk about it. It is a really touchy thing. I don’t want to go there, if you understand…
GM: Let’s switch drummers then. Tommy Clufetos can play drums like a madman.
OZZY: He’s young, and he doesn’t take drugs and he doesn’t take alcohol. He gets up in the morning and he works out like a slave and he plays the hell out of the drums. He’s f**king amazing and he’s a good guy as well. He wants to be around for a long time and he wants to take care of himself. That’s what a drummer has to do, I think.
GM: Go way back to the beginning of Sabbath. Is it true that you posted an ad with the last name of Zig that said “Ozzy Zig needs a gig”?
OZZY: Yeah. I bought a Vox PA. Actually, my father had got it for me. I got a microphone. I knew I needed a name, so I came up with “Ozzy Zig needs a gig” and I posted it in a local music shop. Lo and behold, I got a call. It wasn’t because I was good singer. It was because I had a PA and a f**king microphone.
Someone asked me one time what the best gift I ever received. I thought about it and I have to tell you that if my father had not toiled and worked and went into debt to get me a little PA and a microphone, then I would not be here now. That has to be the best gift I’ve ever received.
GM: I am glad to hear you’re doing well, Ozzy. I am not ashamed to admit that I have been clean and sober for many years, and I have followed your struggle for a long time…
OZZY: I am coming up on three years sober, and I’ve just come back from a meeting, actually. I’ve reached a really weird place with it. I am not really happy being sober, but I don’t want to get drunk. Someone told me that at three years sober they felt exactly the same. With meetings, you’re never alone with your thoughts. My disease will go, “You can take this, or you can do this” when I spend too much time alone with my thoughts. If I listen to it, then I go back and I am alright for a tour. It only stops being alright when I am f**ked up everywhere, you know.
GM: Do you have any regrets about your drug use? You may be the most famous drug addict in rock ‘n’ roll/metal history. Do you regret that?
OZZY: No, because it was my destiny. I am lucky enough to have seen the errors of my way and wanted to do something about it.
The first thing I quit was tobacco. I was just in Cuba with my son and I hadn’t been going to meetings for a while. We were in this restaurant and this guy goes, “Do you want to go upstairs and have a cigar?” I don’t smoke, but my son Jack said he would like one. We go into this private room and there are these bottles of f**king rum everywhere. I thought to myself, “It wouldn’t be that bad.” Then I go to myself, “F**k off. You’d start with the puff of a cigar and then I know I would have a shot of booze.” I said to my son, “I have to leave here.”
Since I got back I’ve been going to meetings every day. It scares me. I hear all the time people say that they have another drink in them but they may not have another sobriety in them. I don’t want to put myself in that situation. When I’m left to my own ways, I am going to come up with a stupid idea that makes sense at the time. I end up going, “What the f**k is wrong with me, man?” People in their church, and kings and queens make mistakes because they are human. I’ve said the wrong things and I’ve done the wrong things, but I’m human. These days I just try not to make the same mistake twice.
To be honest with you, I will think to myself, “What the f**k was wrong with me when I thought a good night was getting a belly full of booze and bag of f**king cocaine?” You’re sitting in a f**king hotel room, jacked to the gills and the sun is rising and you’ve got to do a gig that day. It’s f**king dreadful. I’ve got no desire to do that stuff. When we discovered that f**king marching powder it was the beginning of the end … but, we came back with the No. 1 album and we are doing our farewell tour.
GM: With this being the last tour, it is natural to look back and reminisce. Have you been doing that?
OZZY: People ask me all the time, “What’s my favorite album” or “what’s my favorite song?” To me, each album is like a living diary for me. “Paranoid” was in the age we were becoming stars. On our first album we had never made an album, so that made it special. Every album has got a story for me. Some albums I look at and I realize I was not in a good place and I couldn’t wait to get it over with. Fifty years, or 48 years, have gone by so quickly I can’t believe it.
GM: It may be the end of Black Sabbath, but it is not the end for you…
OZZY: It is the end of Black Sabbath, but if Tony phoned me up and said he was doing a blues album and he wanted me to sing on it then I would ask him where he wanted to meet. The same goes for Geezer. The one thing that I am happy about is that we’re all still alive, you know. David Bowie dying was f**king hell. What a talent he was. I met him once or twice. Once I was walking across the road and he shouted “Hey, Ozzy!” He sat next to me in a restaurant and he was reading the newspaper. He was a very, very, very talented guy.
GM: We lost Lemmy as well.
OZZY: He was a close friend of mine. Believe it or not, on the day that he died, me and Sharon were just getting in the car when the phone call came in that he died. We went, “F**king hell.” We went to his memorial. Some really nice stuff was going on there. Lemmy was lovely. He would have loved the memorial.
GM: Black Sabbath may have never happened if Tony Iommi had not had an accident where he cut off his fingertips. That accident led to him detuning the guitar which led to the classic Sabbath sound.
OZZY: That was before we actually formed. I went to the same school with Tony. He went his way and I went my way. We didn’t really hang out in school. He was working in this metal sheeting factory and he cut his fingertip off. It was before we even started. He was playing guitar then.
After that happened they told him he would never play guitar again. He’s a guy that if he cut one leg off and you told him he can’t run the 500-yard dash, he would find a way around it, and he will. Time after time I say to him, “How the f**k do you know when you’re touching the strings?” He says, “You just do.” Tony is a very, very clever guy.
GM: If that would have happened to me I would have probably given up…
OZZY: I would have been sitting in the f**king room feeling sorry for myself!
GM: I have to tell you this: Despite all the sh*t, you’re a hero to many people.
OZZY: That is kind of nice. I wish I was a hero to me, sometimes. I do a good job of beating myself up. As long as the kids have fun, arrive safe and go home safe, it’s all good. When I hear about a kid who had too many beers and he wraps his car around something, then that really saddens me. I know I am going to sound like an old man here, but if you’re going to come to the concert and you’re going to drink then please get somebody to drive the car for you. It happens, you know.
GM: Do you have any words you’d like to say to the Sabbath fans for sticking around all of these years?
OZZY: God bless everyone for sticking with us. Without our fans, we wouldn’t have had a snowball’s chance in hell. I want to tell the fans “thank you for your support” and come out to the show. We love you all, and God bless you.
GM: Last question: I want to know after you play the last concert, and you play the last note and you leave the stage … what will happen when you go back to the dressing room? Will you celebrate?
OZZY: We will have a grin on our face. We will probably shake hands and have a cup of tea. None of us drink anymore. None of us do drugs.
MARKET WATCH: NINE BLACK SABBATH SINGLES
1970: Paranoid/The Wizard (Warner Bros. 7437) $10
1970: Radio Spot for Black Sabbath (Warner Bros. PRO417) $60
1971: Iron Man/Electric Funeral (Warner Bros. 7530) $8
1972: Tomorrow’s Dream/Laguna Sunrise (Warner Bros. 7625) $8
1973 Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath/Changes (Warner Bros. 7764) $8
1974: Iron Man/Electric Funeral (Warner Bros. 7802) $8
1976: Rock ‘N’ Roll Doctor/It’s Alright (Warner Bros. 8315) $6
1980: Lady Evil/Children of the Sea (Warner Bros. 49549) $6
1983: Stonehenge/Trashed (Warner Bros. 29434) $6
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