In December, the Prince of Darkness turns 70.
So many years, so much Ozzy. He’s the guy who famously chomped a bat on stage, a story that’s been told and re-told so many times now over the years that it’s become myth. Then consider Ozzfest, the annual national concert tour that bears his name, and that reality TV show he did. Every week during the early 2000s, MTV granted us a look under the hood of a bona fide old-school rocker living large in a rich man’s suburb, featuring Osbourne’s little dogs, his children, and his wife Sharon. At the center of The Osbournes was a doddering, long-haired old man, covered in tats, who seemed incapable of making ice without a recipe. But no matter. The show transformed Ozzy Osbourne into a Hollywood celebrity.
It got easier and easier to forget that Osbourne had once been the spark plug in Black Sabbath, the band that re-wired modern rock and roll and introduced “heavy metal” to the pop culture vocabulary. John Osbourne, from England, has had at least two musical careers. First, in the late 1960s, there was the series of bands that would become Sabbath. After he got kicked out two decades later for drunken-drugged behavior that was considered too far off the charts even by Sabbath standards, he went solo.
There’s a local connection: in 1983, an Imperial Beach guitarist named Jake E. Lee joined Ozzy during the recording of Bark at the Moon. Lee, who replaced the late Randy Rhoads, stayed on until 1987.
In December, the Prince of Darkness (as Osbourne is known) turns 70. In 2016, he fronted Sabbath in that band’s farewell tour and for the next couple of years, the Grammy-winning Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is road-dogging it in what, after 50 years in the business, is said to be his own final world tour. I say don’t count on it.