Ozzy Osbourne has enjoyed an incredible, yet controversial time in the spotlight. In celebration of the 14th anniversary of “The Osbournes” series finale on March 21, 2005, Vintage Heavy Metal is taking a photographic look back at the life of Ozzy Osbourne.
John Michael “Ozzy” Osbourne was born in Birmingham, England, on Dec. 3, 1948, to working-class parents. He began performing in school plays as a child and knew he wanted to be singer when he heard The Beatles’ “She Loves You” in 1968. The future superstar dropped out of school at 15 and worked a series of odd jobs including trainee plumber, apprentice toolmaker and car factory horn-tuner before he was arrested for burglary. After spending six weeks in prison, Ozzy formed his first band in 1967. He’s seen here a few years later circa 1973.
In 1969, Ozzy Osbourne teamed up with Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi and Bill Ward to form Black Sabbath. The band was a success as they released their chart-topping first album, “Black Sabbath,” and their second album, “Paranoid,” in the same year. Just five months after “Paranoid,” Black Sabbath released a third album, “Master of Reality,” which immediately went gold.
In 1973, Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath released their biggest album yet, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.” It was critically acclaimed and went on to be certified platinum.
Ozzy Osbourne is seen here in 1975, the same year Black Sabbath released their sixth album, “Sabotage.” After the wild success of their first five, this one was their first that — despite making the Top 20 — failed to go platinum in the States. The same year, Ozzy was injured in a motorcycle accident, which led his band to cut short a tour featuring Kiss as their opening act. That December, Black Sabbath’s record label inexplicably released a greatest hits album without the band’s input.
In addition to his career success, Ozzy Osbourne also became a family man during the early ’70s. He wed Thelma Riley in 1971 and they soon welcomed two children, Jessica and Louis. Ozzy later referred to his first marriage as “a terrible mistake” and admitted that, due to his drug and alcohol addiction, he couldn’t even remember when his first two children were born. Ozzy, Jessica and Louis are pictured here in 1978.
By 1976, the relationship between Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne was strained. The band had begun heavily abusing drugs and alcohol, with Ozzy partying the hardest. “I get high, I get f—ed up,” he admitted to Sounds in 1978. “What the hell’s wrong with getting f—ed up? There must be something wrong with the system if so many people have to get f—ed up … I never take dope or anything before I go on stage. I’ll smoke a joint or whatever afterwards.” Ozzy, seen here with the band in 1978, was fired from Black Sabbath in April 1979 for his unreliability and substance abuse problems.
After spending “three months doing coke and booze,” Ozzy Osbourne told Classic Rock magazine, he bounced back from his firing with a solo career. The rocker began performing with a new band, Blizzard of Ozz, in 1979. His debut solo album, “Blizzard of Ozz,” was released in 1980 to universal praise. It went on to achieve multi-platinum status and became one of the best selling albums of the 1980s.
Ozzy Osbourne also found love in the early 1980s. He became reacquainted with Sharon Osbourne, then known as Sharon Arden, whom he’d met in the ’70s when her father, Don Arden, managed Black Sabbath. After Don and the band fired Ozzy, the future “The Talk” host started managing him as a solo act and the two soon fell head-over-heels in love. Sharon and Ozzy married in Hawaii on July 4, 1982. They’re seen here a few months before their wedding.
In 1982, Ozzy Osbourne bit the head off a bat he thought was rubber while performing in Iowa. He later shared in 2002 that the bat bit him back, leading to him being treated for rabies. In January 2019, Ozzy (seen here shooting the cover of “Diary of a Madman” in 1981) commemorated the 37th anniversary of the bat-biting incident with the release of an
Ozzy plush bat toy “with detachable head.”
Ozzy Osbourne (seen here in 1981) continued to perform with Blizzard of Ozz, releasing four more albums in the 1980s: “Diary of a Madman,” “Bark at the Moon,” “The Ultimate Sin” and “No Rest for the Wicked.”