web analytics

Out of the Box (Set): The Ozzman Speaketh

Nov 7, 2019

By Melissa Rodwell

It’s an odd time in the world where the delightfully provocative Sharon Osbourne is a more visible presence than her hubby, who, for 50 years, has belted out “Iron Man” and “Crazy Train” to adoring rock fans. Though Ozzy took 2019 as a health break from touring (biting the heads off things is SO 1980s!) and Mrs. O comes into living rooms on TV’s The Talk, don’t think that the Oz-man has been stagnant. He’s been prepping the definitive Ozzy musical collection in the See You On The Other Side box set. And here at ALICE, we have the scoop!  

Photo by Herring & Herring

Let’s talk about the See You On The Other Side box set, due out November 29 on Sony Legacy. You’ve obviously had many box sets released.

OZZY OSBOURNE: This one’s the most elaborate one so far and I’m really pleased with the outcome.  It’s got everything in there that you could possibly want. And there’s some surprises along the way. I think it’s very well thought out and well put together.

This is a vinyl collection, and with vinyl, music fans get to appreciate the warmer-sounding music and of course there’s the visual aspect.

When Blizzard of Ozz came out, it was all about vinyl. That’s what nearly everyone bought.  You know what I miss about out vinyl?  You used to get a double sleeve album and it was a big deal. When CD’s first came out I thought it shrinks the size!  You can’t put as much artwork or information on a little sleeve which ruined a part of the experience for me.  I don’t care what people say, it’s a totally different sound on vinyl.

Let’s talk about the differences from when the music biz went from vinyl to CD.

The first time I saw a CD I was recording at Ridge Farm Studio.  The engineer told us that it would last forever and that you couldn’t scratch it.  We ended up using it as a Frisbee. On the other hand, I thought, ‘Oh, what a great idea! You smoke a doobie, and there’s no turntable where you have to flip the record over. I thought, ‘Oh, good, now, you can just listen without getting off your butt!

Let’s talk about some of the iconic album covers. Let’s start with Bark At The Moon.  It’s an image that everyone remembers.

I always like the idea of getting dressed up in certain little costumes. It took eight hours to put that makeup on.  The video was filmed in a Victorian Mansion, this old mental hospital…it was creepy!  I remember going to one of these different rooms and we even found a pickled fetus in a jar.

Do you remember the first vinyl album you bought?

The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, I was like, the Stones and Beatles, anything like that!

When you started doing this, did you have any idea you’d be where you are today?

Absolutely! I knew, I thought, ‘Oh, this will do!’  When the first Black Sabbath album got on the charts, it was the first time I ever got success. I figured it would end, but we were picked up by various magazines and I thought, ‘This will be good for a few years. Partying every night, women, and wine and rock ‘n’ roll.’ I mean, here we are, 50 years up the road. I know that without a shadow of a doubt though, if it wasn’t for my wife Sharon, I wouldn’t be here now. I wouldn’t be alive. She pushed me when I needed it.  She yelled at me when I needed it. At the time I didn’t think I wanted to be yelled at, but in the long run, you got to get off your butt and you got to get to what you’re here to do. And I believe that’s what I’m here to do!

If you hadn’t done this, you’ve said you would have been miserably working in a factory.

I mean, I knew I wasn’t built to do a 9-to-5 job. I’d start a new job, they’d tell me what I’d make a week, after three days, I’d say, ‘This is going to drive me nuts!’  I wouldn’t last…I’d jump jobs.  And then, I got in the band with Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward. Even if we had money or not, I traveled around with the boys, we saw Europe and had a good laugh. Would I have done anything differently? No.  It’s just wild! I love it. When I heard the Beatles, I knew what I wanted to do.

Let’s talk about the first time you heard that song.

My son says to me, ‘Dad, I like the Beatles, but why do you go so crazy?’ The only way I can describe it is like this, ‘Imagine you go to bed today and the world is black and white and then you wake up, and everything’s in color. That’s what it was like!’  That’s the profound effect it had on me. I remember it like it was yesterday: I was walking around with a transistor radio on my shoulder. And ‘She Loves You’ came on. And, I don’t know, it just went, ‘Bang! And that’s what I want to do! Wouldn’t it be great?’

With regards to music, you’ve been able to share music with your children and now your granddaughters…

Oh, my granddaughters! They’re something else! My oldest one, Pearl, did a thing at school about the eighties. She came up on the stage and said, ‘This is for my Papa!’ (she calls me ‘Papa’).  And she sang ‘Crazy Train.’ I was like, ‘She’s got balls!’ I think that every parent should teach their kids a bit about music. Buy piano lessons, or singing lessons, or whatever. Encourage it, because somebody once told me, ‘In any crisis, there are two things people want: Food and entertainment.’ My wife can’t cook, but I can sing!

Let’s talk about how your father helped you initially.

My father was a factory worker who wouldn’t miss a day’s work if his life depended on it.  He worked the night shift.  He knew the passion I had for the music. I didn’t have much of an education, because I’m a dyslexic, attention-deficit, so I can sit still for more than five minutes. And he saw that passion, and he went into debt for me.  It was 500 dollars or something like that. We couldn’t afford it, but he bought me a PA system and a microphone. Not a big PA system, a little one. But, because he got me a microphone and a mike stand and a small PA, I got gigs because I was the first singer to have that equipment.  It was a way of getting into bands. If you had your own PA, you had the tools for the job.

Let’s talk about the early days with you and Sharon. You had nothing at that point.

When we started off, I can remember, we were both broke, no credit cards, nothing. We’d have all the cash from the gig in a briefcase and we’d have to stay in these really cheap hotels, like motorway hotels. The briefcase with cash in it was handcuffed to my wrist ’cause if we got ripped off, we were done.  But it was fun, because we had nothing to lose, and everything to gain!  We’d beg, borrow, and steal.”

This is when you were starting fresh as a solo artist, getting your debut solo album ready.  

With Black Sabbath, I’d go and let them do their thing, and I’d add the vocal, no matter what the key was.  I’d have to try and work out a way to put a melody on there.  But, when I started working with Randy Rhoads, he was the first guy to go, ‘Maybe you should do it in this key.’  And I go, ‘Oh!’ He was the first guy to ever consider my opinion and give me a break. But I got an education working with Black Sabbath, it made it a little easier for me to work with other musicians. But with Randy, it was fun again!

You’ve worked with a lot of guitarists in your solo career: Randy, Jake E. Lee, Zakk. Let’s talk a little bit about the differences between them.

Well, Randy Rhoads was the best.  If I had to say which one of the guitar players you’d rather work with, who was the most musically trained, it was Randy, because he could write, he could read, he could play, he taught at his mother’s school, and he had patience with me. And he would work with me, as opposed to me having to work on top of what he put down. It was fun! Then he got tragically killed. And I’ll never forget it as long as I live. That story, we all know now. But, I mean, he was only a young man. He was in his early twenties. It just doesn’t seem right… I’m 70 years of age and it’s so sad when you think the guy got killed so early.

And then there was Jake E. Lee, he was another great player. But then, Zakk is somewhere else, man! That guy gets faster and faster. Zakk has been with me longer than any guitar player ever! He’s been with me the longest and is one of the greatest friends I’ll ever have. He is a family member to me.  I mean, if I ever really needed him for anything, I could phone him up and he’d say, ‘I’ll be there in five minutes.’ And vice-versa. Zakk’s a hard-working guy. He works his balls off.

You play a lot of the hits from this set every night on stage. Are there songs that resonate with you to this day?

Well, I don’t play songs that don’t do something for me.  We play ‘Crazy Train,’ ‘Mr. Crowley,’ ‘Bark at the Moon,’ every night.”

When you go on stage and play “Crazy Train,” is it a burden?

No, I mean these songs are a part of me and what my show is about, but my job is to give the audience what they want and try my best to never disappoint them. I try my hardest to get that audience going, no matter what I have to do.

Thanks to sropr.com for providing ALICE with the interview.

Sign up for our newsletter to receive news & events.