Ozzy Osbourne turns 61 years old today. The godfather of modern metal, Ozzy first grabbed attention as the creepy, theatrical frontman of Black Sabbath, still one of the heaviest bands in rock history. Of course, Ozzy is probably best known to modern audiences as a reality show star (MTV's smash hit "The Osbournes") and as a solo artist (his hit "Crazy Train" remains a staple at sports arenas, rock-themed karaoke bars and air guitar contests worldwide).
It's nothing short of miraculous that Ozzy has made it this far. He had a legendarily massive drug and alcohol habit during his youth, and though he's clean now, it remains a constant struggle. In one of the great rock and roll stories of all time, Osbourne was on tour with Mötley Crüe when he spied a row of ants following the trail of a melted popsicle. In a stunt that seems apocryphal but appears to be true, Ozzy took a straw and snorted the insects as though they were a giant line of cocaine. You would think that behavior like that wouldn't let a man reach his 61st birthday, but like Keith Richards and Nikki Sixx, the man appears to be basically indestructible.
In the latter part of his career, Ozzy has become something of a balladeer, leaving behind much of the heavy material from his past in favor of sentimental swoons and covers. Perhaps he's just a softie at heart, but perhaps he was inspired by his 1988 collaboration with Lita Ford on "Close My Eyes Forever," a stunning and underrated power ballad from the hair metal era.