The Prince of Darkness wants you to know that he’s not dead yet.
Even after 70 years of hard living, Ozzy Osbourne has much to do. He’s got a tour scheduled, and he plans to get to it as soon as he recovers from a severe fall he suffered at home last year.
The freak accident – he tripped over a rug and seriously injured his neck – has led to surgery, followed by battles with infection and other complications that have kept him out of commission for the better part of a year.
It takes moxie for a septuagenarian to rock your face off, and Ozzy Osbourne has spent a lifetime proving he has it. Here’s how:
Moxie gets trained in the school of hard knocks.
Osbourne grew up as one of six kids in a working-class family in the Birmingham region of England. Neither a standout student nor a star athlete, Osbourne was bullied relentlessly. School mates forcibly groped him, leaving him with life-long anxieties.
He struggled to find his place in the world and even turned briefly to petty crime before getting back on track after a brief stint in jail for attempted burglary.
Osbourne began to find his way through music. He put out ads recruiting bandmates, and the roots of what would become Black Sabbath were planted in its predecessor, Earth. His Black Sabbath bandmates even included one of their childhood bullies.
If I had the opportunity to talk to Osbourne, I’d want to ask him this: How do you launch such an intense, creative endeavor with someone with whom you have such a conflicted relationship?
I sense that it takes a tremendous focus on a larger vision and a commitment to realizing that vision. Ozzy managed somehow to do just that.
Moxie is made by good management.
Despite Black Sabbath’s success, Osbourne struggled with substance abuse. While drug and alcohol abuse wasn’t unusual for the members of Black Sabbath – and across the metal scene in general – it seemed to be especially problematic for Osbourne. In 1979, Osbourne parted ways with Black Sabbath, with other members citing his substance abuse as the issue.
Don Arden, Osbourne’s manager, dispatched his daughter Sharon to look after Osbourne. She took the task very seriously; it would seem. She married him in 1982.
Though he had a successful solo project in the late 70s, Sharon guided Osbourne’s successful transition to a solo artist in the 1980s, and Sharon launched his wildly successful Ozzfest in the 1990s.
Sharon has protected and nurtured not just Ozzy’s career but Ozzy himself. All this despite bouts of intense drug abuse and even spousal abuse – Ozzy once choked Sharon while under the influence – and marital infidelity.
Marriage is hard enough on its own, but it’s exceptionally hard for a marriage to survive addiction and the glare of the spotlight. The Osbourne’s relationship is a study in moxie.
Moxie takes things one day at a time.
Osbourne’s substance abuse issues have been displayed in some of the most memorable incidents throughout his career. He’s bitten heads off live creatures, urinated on revered landmarks, and other shocking and horrible things that have added to his notoriety.
But we were somewhat unwitting observers of his substance abuse issues when we got a window into his family’s life through the reality show “Meet the Osbournes.” The wildly successful series in the early 2000s on MTV cast Osbourne as the bumbling, scattered patriarch of an only slightly unconventional family. The toll of shooting the show was enormous for Osbourne. Though the show presented him as clean and sober, he drank heavily off-camera every day after filming wrapped.
When a severe health scare amplified the stress for Sharon, a doctor prescribed a cocktail of heavy doses of prescription drugs to help Osbourne manage the stress and anxiety. The prescription drugs left Osbourne barely able to function.
Though the reality show grew his fanbase well beyond metalheads and launched his family to a new level of fame, Osbourne has difficulty looking back at scenes from that period of his life. He’s recovered, relapsed, and recovered again since that time, and it is a lifelong cycle he acknowledges.
Osbourne hasn’t been “cured” of his addictions and in all likelihood, won’t be. But he does manage his addictions. He recognizes his patterns, listens to those who love him most when they tell him he’s in danger, and gets help. That takes moxie.