Top 100 Classic Rock Bands

#16 Ozzy Osbourne

By James West, The-Rocker.com

Ozzy Osbourne: The Prince Of Darkness- Godfather Of Heavy Metal, or as mere mortals and fans like myself like to call him- Ozzy- is the pure essence and definition of what a rock and roll star is all about.   I can’t imagine Hard Rock or Heavy Metal without Ozzy- He has been a part of my Rocker life since first hearing his distinctive voice on “Sweet Leaf” from the first Black Sabbath album I heard and owned- Master Of Reality!

That album along with the first Black Sabbath album scared the shit out of me to be honest.  The combination of Iommi’s down-tuned guitar, along with Geezer’s haunting lyrics and Ozzy’s distinctive “Jester meets Frankenstein”

-type vocals were like nothing I had ever heard.  It was a far cry from the bubblegum Sweet, Stones-ish Aerosmith, and operatic Queen I was listening to at the time.  As evil as Sabbath sounded they made you feel evil for even liking them.  Did I just sell my soul to Satan?  Is Ozzy now going to control my every thought and action in life?  Ha! It may seem funny now, but how old were you when you first heard Ozzy?  Music was my only escape back then, and Ozzy’s voice was like Darth Vader tempting me to the Dark Side!

The Blizzard Of Ozzy Osbourne!

Fast-forward a few years to 1980 when Blizzard Of Ozz, Ozzy’s first solo album, came out:  It still had that same type of “toilet-bowl”-type production, but with a faster tempo and a guitar sound that came out of the stratosphere.  Eddie Van Halen meets Ludwig Van Beethoven is what I thought of at first listen to Randy Rhodes.  Ozzy’s voice sounded as fresh as ever like he had a new lease on life after the disappointing

Never Say Die from Sabbath.  I missed Geezer and Iommi, but this new sound and vibe helped bring the 80’s metal scene to the forefront of rock.

Playin' Hooky at Boot Camp!

Diary Of A Madman came out while I was in boot camp in San Diego in November 1981.  I remember getting out of training one afternoon after telling the Company Commander that I felt sick and needed to go to medical.  Medical just happened to be near the base store where I hastily dashed in to grab a cassette of “Diary” and hid it in my shirt until I could enjoy it after work hours.  Suddenly I felt much better and with a new spirit to get through the Hell of boot camp after listening to Diary a few times!  Ozzy, the Prince Of Darkness, saved my poor soul and helped get me through the tough training.

Diary Of A Madman became one of my all time favorite albums; with the song Diary Of A Madman becoming one of my new personal favorite tunes.

During Christmas break from Boot Camp I was very fortunate to stay with a fellow boot-camper and his family near San Diego.  Low and behold guess who just happened to be playing in concert nearby on my time off?  Ozzy Osbourne with

Randy Rhodes on guitar!  Yes, I was there… witnessing one of the last performances of the late, great Randy Rhodes!  I remember the castle backdrop, Ronnie The Dwarf, and being blown away by the sheer volume and intensity of Randy in all his glory. 

The lead guitarist was killed on March 20th, 1982, along with two other persons, when a plane in which they were buzzing a mansion

struck a van and crashed into a house.   I figured that would be the end of Ozzy also with having such a history with alcohol and drug abuse.  But somehow, probably with the help of Sharon, the Ozzman continued on the tour with Bernie Torme’ for a handful of dates and then Night Ranger guitarist Brad Gillis taking the guitar reins for the remaining dates.  I’m a big fan of Brad, and he did the best he could to help the band soldier on for the rest of the tour.  Speak Of The Devil is not a bad live album either, although it’s no Tribute. 

Life After Death Of A Guitar Hero!

I was curious as to what the band would sound like with the absence of Rhodes. With 1983’s Bark At The Moon the sound was similar but with a more raw and bluesy sound provided by Jake E Lee on guitars.  There were still great songs and licks from Lee, but it lacked the impact of the albums with Randy.

 

The same was true with The Ultimate Sin album.  Although good albums, I actually liked Jake better with Badlands.  He truly could shine his own way with that band. 

Dio was hitting his stride with Holy Diver and The Last In Line during this time, so my attention went that direction and away from Ozzy’s material.  Plus the 80’s didn’t look good on The Prince Of Darkness with all the neon and hairspray! Ha!

You’ve all heard the stories of Ozzy biting the head off a bat; snorting a line of ants on a dare, and being found dazed and confused on numerous occasions during the 70’s and 80’s.

 

He is truly “Iron Man” if there ever was one!

Ozzy Gets a Zakk Attack!

I was just about to count poor Ozzy out as just another rocker run his course when No Rest For The Wicked hit the record store shelves in 1988.  Talk about a Zakk Attack! I instantly fell in love with this album and the playing of Zakk Wylde.  Finally, a guitarist to match the ferocity of Randy Rhodes but in a doomier context- a great mix between Sabbath and Ozzy’s solo efforts.  This album along with 1995’s Ozzmosis rank as my favorite non-Randy albums from Ozzy.

While nothing compares to the output from the Black Sabbath era Ozzy has been able to hold his own and transition to a more rock audience away from his metal beginnings.  This is a rare feat for any singer to accomplish, and it shows the depth of this master performer who once sang about fairies wearing boots.

Return of Black Sabbath!

This is one of the stunning pictures captured by The Rocker Chic during Black Sabbath's Reunion Tour at Las Vegas in 2013. Thank you Danette!

I was again very fortunate to witness Ozzy in all of his Sabbath glory during their reunion tour in Vegas for my 50th birthday celebration in 2013. 

 

Even after the thousands of shows Ozzy has performed and sang through he still had that “Jester meets Frankenstein” voice in full swing, and you could tell he was still enjoying himself and the band.  I couldn’t believe how great the band sounded and performed that night, and it ranks as one of the greatest concerts I have ever attended- even better

than with Randy back in the 80’s.  It may have been the Vegas vibe, or the VIP seats the Rocker Chic purchased for us, but I was on cloud nine that night, and I didn’t even need assistance from any “Sweet Leaf”!

Rock On Prince Of Darkness!

I'm looking forward to 2019 as I am anxious to finally see Ozzy with Zakk Wylde when they perform in San Diego near where I saw The Prince Of Darkness perform with Randy Rhodes some 37 years before.  It’s full circle for both me and for a singer who shouldn’t have even survived the 70’s.  Rock on Iron Man!

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