Happy Birthday today to the madman who showed the world his diary, who put the globe in a blizzard, who made an absolute art of being one of the most influential and loved hard rock/heavy metal frontman in the entire elongated history of the music scene and business, John “Ozzy” Osbourne.
The personal life and antics of Osbourne and his unabashed outrageousness could fill volumes upon volumes of tomes. Osbourne is like a cat with nine lives who has already extinguished eight and a half, his onstage and off-stage antics, wild loose unrestrained abandon, a glorious wonderful mess of a life and a human being are the stuff of legend, urban and otherwise. There are fans of the man who have never even heard his music, or have only heard the most minute of musical flurries, and yet, those people are as passionate about the day to day, era to era styles and manifestations of Ozzy, as if it’s witnessing a one-man freak show, rubber-necking at a car wreck, looking and listening where angels fear to tread.
Ozzy is a walking piece of latter day literature, a boozy, wobbly prognosticator of all things doomy and dark, he’s the champion of intense feelings and emotions that most of us keep hidden; with Osbourne, especially in Black Sabbath, he put all of it to the top and then some, like a volcano exploding lava out of the speakers. With the thunderous musicians in Sabbath (Tony Iommi on guitar, Bill Ward on drums, and Geezer Butler on bass), they became a swinging, pneumatic hammer in your chest of sounds, metaphoric bone crunching, steel shiny Doc Marten boots coming down on one’s nervous system again and again. The results, to those who can take it, were some of the most irresistible and challenging heavy metal/hard rock ever laid to acetate tapes.
And then there’s the voice. That distinct high register booming, doomy, perfectly organic chops that makes his vocals on whatever he is doing, instantly and eternally recognizable. After making it through Sabbath somewhat unscathed as he enjoyed and dabbled in every bit of debauchery known to musicianship raunchy and otherwise, he foraged a solo career (helped by his wife/manager Sharon Osbourne, a force to be reckoned in her own right, although she’s softened a bit by her reality show appearances arguably) that became just as successful as Sabbath if not more, as he transcended the cult masses of adoration created by Sabbath and sort of found himself in the mainstream, still albeit true to the hard rock/metal roots that he helped create blueprints for in Sabbath. In his solo band, he found and help cultivate to the world some of the genres great guitar players: the legendary in his own right Randy Rhoads, who died in a plane crash during the Diary of A Madman tour in 1982, Jake E. Lee, and Zack Wylde, among others. In fact, Osbourne has had no musical slouches when it comes to his recordings and live performances.
Now, at 64 years of age, Ozzy Osbourne is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, he NEVER showed those signs. Where mere musical mortals might have curled up in a ball and withered away from the lifestyle Ozzy lived during his youth with Black Sabbath and into some of his solo career, Ozzy remains a titan almost immersed in granite. While he looks sometimes shaky in appearance and can be unintelligible to the point of madness in interviews and sound bites, when the microphone is turned on and the band goes to eleven, he still remains as fresh as ever and hungry like the wolf. Above all, he always gives the fans what they want, he knows the rabid fan base for him, for his music, for the bands he’s been in. For them, Ozzy Osbourne remains timeless and alive forever no matter what the circumstances. Having the genuine article around still is just a huge bonus for all. Talk about someone who keeps on keeping on in the highest order possible. Happiest birthday greetings to Ozzy!