Osbourne, Ozzy


Osbourne, Ozzy
▪ 2003

      On April 12, 2002, Ozzy Osbourne, rock singer and protagonist of the television reality show The Osbournes, gained his star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. Although he had enjoyed a successful career of more than 30 years as a heavy metal vocalist, it was not until the triumph of MTV's The Osbournes during the 2001–02 television season that Osbourne achieved Hollywood recognition. In less than two months on the air, the show had become the third-highest-rated offering on cable TV and had the highest-rated series premiere in MTV's 20-year history.

      John Osbourne was born on Dec. 3, 1948, in Birmingham, Eng. Raised in a working-class family, he dropped out of school at 15 and held several low-paying jobs. He also engaged in petty crime and at 17 was imprisoned for two months for burglary. After his release, he sang in a number of local rock groups, eventually forming the rock band Earth with guitarist Tony Iommi. To avoid confusion with another band of the same name, the group changed its name to Black Sabbath—after an old Boris Karloff movie. The group developed a grinding, ominous sound, based on the blues but intensely amplified, and drew attention with its tendency to reference the occult in its lyrics. In February 1970 Black Sabbath released its self-titled first album and quickly developed a following in both Britain and the U.S.

      The band released albums each year, except 1974, through the mid-1970s. After the tour for Never Say Die (1978), Osbourne left the band. A period of despair and drug abuse led to Osbourne's divorce from his first wife, Thelma Mayfair. He then met and married Sharon Arden, who encouraged him to start a career as a solo artist. His first effort, achieved with the primary help of guitarist Randy Rhoads, was Blizzard of Ozz (1980). A multiplatinum success, it was followed by the equally popular Diary of a Madman (1981), which sold more than five million copies. On the tour for the album, thinking that someone in the audience had thrown him a rubber toy, Osbourne bit into the head of a live bat, after which he was vaccinated for rabies.

      Osbourne broadened his fan base with No More Tears (1991); one of the album's songs, “Mama, I'm Coming Home,” became his first solo top 40 hit. In 1993 he won a Grammy Award for best metal performance for the song “I Don't Want to Change the World.” Despite announcing his retirement in 1992, he continued recording through the decade. By the end of the 1990s, Osbourne had reunited the original members of Black Sabbath for a new album and tour, and in 1999 the band won a Grammy for best metal performance for the song “Iron Man.”

      The success of The Osbournes gained more than the Hollywood star for Ozzy and his family. In May the family sold world rights to two books for more than $3 million, and in June Epic Records released The Osbourne Family Album, which featured the favourite songs of each family member. Eager to retain its most popular show, MTV signed a reported $20 million contract with the family for another 20 episodes.

David R. Calhoun

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▪ British musician
byname of  John Michael Osbourne 
born Dec. 3, 1948, Birmingham, Eng.

      British musician, who gained a loyal following as vocalist for the heavy metal group Black Sabbath before embarking on a successful solo career.

      Raised in a working-class family, Osbourne dropped out of school at age 15 and held several low-paying jobs. He also engaged in petty crime and at 17 was imprisoned for two months for burglary. After his release, he sang in a number of local rock groups, eventually forming the rock band Earth with guitarist Tony Iommi. To avoid confusion with another band of the same name, the group changed its name to Black Sabbath—after an old Boris Karloff (Karloff, Boris) movie. The group developed a grinding, ominous sound, based on the blues but intensely amplified, and drew attention with its tendency to reference the occult in its lyrics. In February 1970 Black Sabbath released its eponymous first album and quickly developed a following in both Britain and the United States.

      The band released albums each year through the mid-1970s, except 1974. After the tour for Never Say Die (1978), Osbourne left the band. A period of despair and drug abuse led to Osbourne's divorce from his first wife, Thelma Mayfair. He then met and married Sharon Arden, who encouraged him to start a career as a solo artist. His first effort, achieved with the primary help of guitarist Randy Rhoads, was Blizzard of Ozz (1980). A multiplatinum success, it was followed by the equally popular Diary of a Madman (1981), which sold more than five million copies. A defining moment in Osbourne's career came on the tour for the album, when, thinking that someone in the audience had thrown him a rubber toy, Osbourne bit off the head of a live bat.

      Osbourne found his first solo Top 40 hit with "Mama, I'm Coming Home" from the album No More Tears (1991), and in 1993 he won a Grammy Award for best metal performance for the song "I Don't Want to Change the World." Despite announcing his retirement in 1992, he continued recording through the decade. Ozzfest, an annual summer music festival featuring heavy metal acts organized by Osbourne and his wife, began in 1996 and toured throughout the United States and, in some years, parts of Europe. By the end of the 1990s, Osbourne had reunited the original members of Black Sabbath for a new album and tour, and in 1999 the band won a Grammy for best metal performance for the song "Iron Man."

 In 2001 the reality television show The Osbournes, which followed the life of Osbourne and his family, premiered on MTV, and within two months it had become the third highest offering on cable television. The hugely popular show ran until 2005. In March 2006 Osbourne and the members of Black Sabbath were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in May of the next year he released his first solo studio album in six years, Black Rain (2007).
 

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Universalium. 2010.

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