Ozzy Osbourne: ‘I will get back on stage if it f***ing kills me’

The singer known as The Prince of Darkness has recruited Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and his old Black Sabbath partner Tony Iommi for new album ‘Patient Number 9’. He talks to Kevin E G Perry about being shy, moving back to England, how love saved him from booze and drugs, and his determination to finish his farewell tour

<p>Ozzy Osbourne: ‘I’m trying to get as much done as I can before the ultimate final curtain’</p>

zzy Osbourne is at home in Los Angeles, contemplating the passage of time. When he first came to this city to record, he was a wide-eyed, golden-voiced Brummie lad of 23, with a passion for fringed stagewear and as many cereal boxes full of cocaine as he could lay his nostrils on. The year was 1972, and heavy metal pioneers Black Sabbath were in sun-kissed California making their stone-cold classic Vol 4. When it was done, their hell-raising frontman flew back to England and celebrated by swallowing 10 tabs of LSD. “We used to take it all the f***ing time,” he recalls, that Aston accent still clear as a ringing bell. Osbourne wandered into a field and spent an hour talking to a horse before it turned round and told him to “f*** off”. He’s a little hazy on the rest of the details. “I’m sorry,” he says, impishly. “You’ll have to ask the horse.”

Fifty years on, Osbourne is once again plotting a return to England with an explosive new album tucked under his arm. On the eve of his 13th solo record, Patient Number 9, Osbourne and his wife Sharon have put their stately mansion in LA’s leafy Hancock Park up for sale for $18m (£15.5m). After two decades here they’ve decided to go back to their Grade II-listed Buckinghamshire estate, Welders House. It’s time for a change. These days Osbourne walks with the aid of a black cane, and the only pure white lines are the roots near his centre-parting. There’ll be no high-powered psychedelics for tea this time. “I’ve missed going to the cake shop in Beaconsfield,” says Osbourne, infectiously enthusiastic about the move. “It’s still England. It’s lovely. I’ve missed British people. I’m not American and I want to come home, you know?”

The 73-year-old is in fine form, sharp and witty despite various physical ailments. In June, Osbourne underwent “life-altering” surgery to deal with neck injuries he first sustained in a 2003 quad-biking accident, which were exacerbated by a fall in 2019. That same year he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and more recently he’s survived a tussle with Covid. Today, though, he’s enjoying that just-home-from-holiday bounce. He’s been in Hawaii with Sharon, celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary. “I feel great today,” he says. “Maybe it’s because I’m back off holiday and I’m not spending any more money.” He bought his wife a ruby necklace for the occasion; she got him a ruby-encrusted skull ring. What’s the secret of their long-lasting marriage? “Love, I suppose,” says Osbourne. “If it wasn’t for Sharon, I’d be dead. I was doing f***ing huge amounts of drugs and booze. I never stopped. People wouldn’t know if I was gonna go through the door, the roof or the window. Now I don’t drink or smoke or f***ing do any of that s***. I’m f***ing boring!”

It’s true that Osbourne is now nine years sober, but time spent in his company is never boring. He proved as much when MTV’s The Osbournes became one of the earliest reality TV hits, drawing millions of viewers to the escapades of Ozzy, Sharon and their kids Jack and Kelly. That was 20 years ago. Jack now has four children of his own, while Kelly is having a baby with Sid Wilson of Slipknot. “Sid’s a really nice guy,” says Osbourne, who helped the masked metal band land their first concert tour with Ozzfest in 1999. “We get on really well. Usually when somebody comes in, you go, ‘I don’t like him,’ but he’s a really good guy.” The show is being rebooted by the BBC under the title Home to Roost, covering the family’s return to their UK home.

<p>The Osbournes in a promo shot for their MTV series in 2002</p>
The Osbournes in a promo shot for their MTV series in 2002(Mtv/Kobal/Shutterstock)

While Osbourne says he’s not much of a fan of reality TV these days, preferring YouTube videos about the Second World War and The Beatles to Love Island, fans of the show will be happy to hear he’s still being kept on his toes by the family’s ever-growing wolf pack. “I now have something like 11 or 12 dogs, and they’ve kept me so busy through this f***ing pandemic,” he says happily. “I love them. Pomeranians are the best f***ing dogs, they really are. Great characters.” The hardest part of dealing with a pack that size? “The amount of s*** in the morning,” sighs Osbourne. “They eat each other’s s***, so at least you don’t have to clean too much up! I don’t understand why some dogs eat s*** and some don’t? When I see a dog do that, he goes to the back of the line. I won’t let him lick me ever again.”

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