Continuing from the behemoth of a tree that is Black Sabbath, in this edition of HEAVY ROOTS we focus on the Prince Of Darkness himself, John Michael “Ozzy” Osbourne. Ozzy has lead one of the most successful solo careers that is still in action today.
Many would say that John Lennon was a dreamer, and they wouldn’t be mistaken, but Ozzy is the dreamer of the metal world who has met his dreams with some nightmares along the way.
Over the years he has had a number of talented musicians work with him on his material, and here we will dig deep into where their roots come from and how they have intertwined with the great man himself. Ozzy has also used both Sabbath and his solo band to spread his darkness through to the infamous Ozzfest, which has helped to launch the careers of many groups over the years.
Ozzy left Black Sabbath in 1978 to pursue a solo career where he signed with Jet Records, owned by Don Harden who would later become Ozzy’s father-in-law after marrying Sharon Arden on 4 July 1982. As most of you would know due to the success of MTV’s The Osbournes reality TV show, they conceived three children with eldest Aimee in 1983, Kelly the following year, and Jack the year after that. The family also took on Robert Marcato after he lost his mother.
Don wanted Ozzy to rejoin Sabbath and name his solo project Sons of Sabbath, but Oz hated that idea and stuck with his own title. In 1980 he released Blizzard of Oz after an idea his father had given him. Band members included drummer Lee Kerslake of Uriah Heep, bassist Bob Daisley of Rainbow and Uriah Heep, keyboardist Don Airey of Rainbow and Deep Purple, and guitar legend Randy Rhoads who started out in Quiet Riot.
Blizzard of Oz saw greats that included Crazy Train, Goodbye to Romance, Suicide Solution and my favourite, Mr Crowley which has one the creepiest intros you will ever hear.
Diary of a Madman followed in 1981 which featured Over The Mountain and Believer amongst others. Sadly this would be the last record that featured Rhoades after he was killed the following year due to an aircraft accident.
Bark at the Moon was later released in 1983 with Jake E. Lee on guitar. The album was remixed in 2002 which left out credits to his name, which followed with a lot of controversy. There was a lot of controversy relating to this guitarist with his name being taken off the credits when the album was remixed in 2002. Lee was truly an underrated guitarist as the video below shows.
1986 saw the fourth release of Ozzy’s solo career which was the last record to feature Jake E. Lee on guitar. It welcomed Phil Sousson on bass and Randy Castillo on drums who replaced Tommy Aldrige. The Ultimate Sin saw more Ozzy greats like the title track, Lightning Strikes and Shot in the Dark.
Zakk Wylde entered into the picture on the 1988 release of No Rest For the Wicked which featured Miracle Man, Crazy Babies and Breaking All the Rules.
In 1991 No More Tears was released. It was the last album to feature Randy Castillo. Bassist Mike Inez of Alice In Chains as well as Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead contributed to the writing of some of the songs. Many hits came from this album including Mr Tinkertrain, I Don’t Want to Change the World, Road to Nowhere and the title track.
Ozzmosis was released in 1995 and I remember seeing lots of the clips from this album on Channel V’s The Heavy Shift; in particular Perry Mason, I Just Want You and See You On The Other Side.
Ozzfest music festival was created in 1996 by Sharon Osbourne after Ozzy wasn’t included on the bill for Lollapalooza. The festival put bands such as Coal Chamber and Powerman 5000 on the map. Other groups such as Slayer, Sepultura, and Fear Factory were also on the bill. 1997 saw a return of some of the bands as well as a few additions shown in the clip below.
If there was one Ozzfest I really wish I had been to it would have been the bill in 1998 with Type O Negative. The line-up featured Tool, System of a Down, Pantera, and Snot. Snot are still doing their thing today, although it just ain’t the same without vocalist James Lynn Strait. R.I.P.
Notice a cameo from Ozzy in Snot’s clip below.
These days Ozzfest meets Slipknot‘s Knotfest after Sabbath wrapped up their last Ozzfest shows, making room for Ozzy’s solo band to share the headline slot of the mega festival with Slipknot.
Mike Bordin of Faith No More featured on Ozzy’s 2001 release Down to Earth with Zakk Wylde as well as 2007s Black Rain, which was the last record both musicians featured on.
Wylde went on to concentrate on his band Black Label Society while Mike Bordin reunited with Faith No More.
Rob “Blasko” Nicholson who had played on three of Rob Zombie‘s solo records later replaced Robert Trujillo on bass.
Ozzy’s last album Scream was released in 2010 and features guitarist Gus G. and drummer Kevin Churko, although touring drummer Tommy Clufetos was credited for the album recordings.
Now let’s hope Ozzy releases some more solo material due to the end of days for the mighty Black Sabbath. May the Prince Of Darkness provide us with more shock – and shock more than just monkeys, pun intended – as I leave you all with this clip showing the man’s true roots grow deep and the world is a better place thanks to the Oz man. \m/