Ozzy Osbourne knows full well that his image as the deranged god of metal on a crazy train ride to oblivion has changed drastically over the past decade. While he was once known for (allegedly) biting the heads off of bats and (allegedly) snorting a line of ants, in these post-"The Osbournes" days he's more likely to go off on young metal acts who have forgotten about melody as he looks for the legal drugs that help him overcome a nagging tremor.
The Blizzard of Ozz talks about all of that and more in a new interview with Inked magazine, where the 61-year-old hard-rock icon holds court on everything from "American Idol" to his first tattoos and what life is like sober.
"I wouldn't have been speaking to Ozzy from 35 years ago because he would've been f---ed up and not having this conversation," he said when asked what he might discuss with his younger self. "I never wanted to take the character of Ozzy off the stage, but it happened." Now, with drugs and alcohol finally out of his life after decades of struggles, Ozzy, whose 10th studio album Scream will be released on June 22, said he only takes the medications he needs and that his life is not nearly as creepy and kooky as fans might imagine.
"I suppose there are people who imagine me going to my Bavarian castle and hanging upside down from the f---ing rafters every night," he joked. "I'm just a guy, man — I'm just a crazy guy who started a merry-go-round ride many years ago, and I'm still here." Ozzy has seen a lot changes over the years, but one of the biggest shifts in the music business — the emergence of reality singing shows like "American Idol" — is not something he cares to think about. "I cannot watch that sh--," said Osbourne, whose wife, Sharon, is a judge on reality performance competition "America's Got Talent." "I cannot do it for the simple fact that for a person to come out of the working-class thing, pass the audition, go on the show and then have a panel of people tell them how f---ed up they are ... I'm a 42-year veteran and I could not f---ing do it. My hat goes off to all of those kids on those shows."
Because it's a tat mag, Ozzy also runs down some of his most famous ink, beginning with his first piece — a dagger he got on his left arm when he was 15, complete with his name. "I don't understand why, when I got tattoos all those years ago, everybody had daggers," he said. "I don't see what the f---ing point was now, but back then you would go for a dagger on the arm. But now it's an art form." He also confirms that the crude "OZZY" across his knuckles was a home job he did when he was stone-cold sober at age 16, one of the few he's gotten while not in an altered state.
And even though he's hitting the road this summer for a shortened version of the Ozzfest with his old pals in Mötley Crüe, Ozzy said he has no interest in revisiting the good/bad old days. "Now I just go and do my show," he said, reminiscing about his fellow rockers who died as a result of drug and alcohol abuse. "In the old days, when we came offstage, I went to the bus to get more drugs and alcohol inside me. I don't even know whether they still do that — if they want to do that, fine. I don't have a problem with that. I'm not one of these holier-than-thou guys. Believe me, if I knew I could have a good time with it, I'd do it again. I'm not turning nerdy. I just never gave sobriety a chance before, really."
There isn't much he hasn't done, but the one thing Osbourne does crave is a #1 album in America — but even if Scream doesn't do it for him, don't look for Ozzy to retire anytime soon.
"How can I retire from what I do? I'm the luckiest man in the f---ing world," he said. "I have voice problems when I'm on the road from screaming every night. I'm not Pavarotti by any means, but if I was, he used to do one show every six months or so."
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