Well, this article is more than interesting. At the end there`s some information that I as a casual fan of Sabbath and an avid reader of music magazines actually never knew. Mind-blowing that Ozzy had plans outside of this band as early as this. This is the kind of information that really makes it worthwhile to get this out there to the music fans – the kind of fans that likes to debate these things. Have fun!
Ozzy: Disillusioned Prospector
Rob Mackie talking to Black Sabbath`s Ozzy Osbourne
When a band rises to fame with a doomy view of the world laid down in front of elephantine riffs, and lyrics that make Barry McGuire and Leonard Cohen sound like Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson, and then they make a mint and the management company`s offices are lined with their gold records, and they finally have time to sit back and take their time and eventually get to pause for breath and get away from American airlines and plastic hamburgers and a hotel room that looks exactly like the one we were in yesterday, where was it?
And when they actually have time to see their wives again and have time to p-a-u-s-e and think in sentences. Then, you might suppose some mellowing would set in. Anger with the world might lessen a bit, a few happy songs might get written?
Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath`s singer, sits in an office with Black Sabbath`s gold albums on the wall, still looking baffled with the whole process that catapulted Black Sabbath from nowhere to up there like an H-bomb mushroom. The gold records are echoed by an equally gleaming gold watch on his wrist. But is he happy, you may ask. Is he hell. “I`ve just written a song called `Am I Going Insane?`, that`s about the way I`m feeling,” he`ll tell you, without laughing.
Mention that you`re baffled as to how Sabbath conquered America in a Black but bloodless coup that seemed to spring up just by word of mouth, and Ozzie`s eyes widen, and it`s obvious he`s got less idea how it happened then you have.
Probably Sabbath just mined the right oil-well at the right time, when the young kids were rebelling against all that self-satisfied peace-signed self-congratulatory hip smugness of their elders. The kids knew better – the future was just a long dark alley with a row of hoods lined up in the shadows on either side waiting to put a knife firmly between the shoulder blades.
All that was left to do was to go to a Sabbath concert, get wasted mindless and let a black menacing wave crash over you for an evening. It might not cure the world, but it did bring a certain lemming-like oblivion, and maybe in the seventies, that was all you could hope for.
Success hasn`t exactly made Ozzy less paranoid. He peers out rather defensively at the world, fiddles with his watch, as if it embarrasses him. “The reason we started singing about that side of things was just to do something different, because everyone else was writing about the opposite. But you think what people will do for money and dope and booze, they`ll take a life for money you know. It`s a big vicious circle that comes back to the same thing – money. Every time.
I was watching the television the other week, a programme about Ethiopia. It was disgusting, absolutely disgusting. The living conditions were thirty times worse than Belsen, and at the same time – we`re getting political now – but at the same time as these kids are walking around like rakes, starving, they`re sending thousands of pounds worth of guns to Israel to kill people. But they can`t send them a few bags of rice over to Ethiopia.”
If money`s the end of one vicious circle, it`s also the beginning of another. “I`m very confused because in the last four or five years, my living standards are rising and rising, my whole way of life has changed.
“My whole outlook on people has changed too, not because I wanted it to, but because people have made it. You`re isolated. People think you`re rolling in money, they don`t understand about the tax man and all that. I realise there`re a lot of bastards about. I`ve been taken to the cleaners about 1,000 times. What can you do when an old friend that you grew up with knocks on your door and says `Can I borrow £100. I need some money or else I`m gonna get thrown out?`
“I`ve very often said O.K., but I`m having to change my ways now, because it`s getting a bit too much.”
Becoming a star has brought more disillusion than fulfilment. “You look at people on TV when you first start, and you think to yourself, `What a terrific scene!` Then suddenly you`re in it, and where you thought everything would be roses, you find you have a lot of hang-ups. Because you haven`t got the hang-ups that you had before, you start to invent problems.
“When you get beyond the usual thing of wondering where the next tin of beans are coming from, then you start to get very insecure, at least that`s what I`ve found. The only friends I`ve got now are people in the same position as me. The amount of rip-offs I`ve had… unbelieveable,” he concludes with a puzzled frown.
Life for Ozzy really does seem to have the same apocalyptic outlook of Sabbath songs like “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”: “Nobody will ever let you know / when you ask the reason why / They just tell you that you`re on your own / Fill your head all full of lies.” Both are filled with a kind of impotent rage at the enormity of the world`s evils.
Still, within the cosmic gloom, there are some small happinesses. Like an album, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”, which allowed the band to take their time in the studio and get things the way they wanted to for the first time. And in spite of Sabbath`s recent lack of live appearances here – the last was at Alexandra Palace – the advance orders are around 25,000.
Having “Done their apprenticeship” as Ozzy describes the initial slog of EIGHT U.S. tours in 18 months, the band has finally got to the point of wanting to go on to a stage again, and they`ll be doing dates here in December.
Of all the unlikely groups, Sabbath have moved individually out into the country, where Ozzy who has never grown a thing in his life, is delighted to be able to get all his vegetables direct from the garden in Stafford. “They`re so much better tasting.”
Sometime next year, we might expect an Ozzy solo album. Will that be lighter, happier? “Well, I`ve only written one number for it so far, and that`s “Am I Going Insane?”
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!
This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Nils Lofgren, John Lennon, Free, Ronnie Lane, Alice Cooper, Carlos Santana, Average White Band, Dale ‘Buffin’ Griffin, Magna Carta.
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