Ozzy Osbourne Interview
The Godfather of Heavy Metal meets the new kid on the block! Ozzy Osbourne talks about getting clean and sober, firing Zakk Wylde, and hiring a young unknown named Gus G., his new guitarist on his latest album, Scream.
"I didn’t believe in blackouts. I thought they were a myth, until one day I woke up in a police cell and the police officer read the rap sheet, which said: ‘Mr. John Michael Osbourne, you have been charged with the attempted murder of Sharon Osbourne.’ I had no fucking idea, and that is a scary place to be.”
Ozzy Osbourne is recounting one of his darker adventures. Though his booze-soaked, cocaine-fueled escapades—from allegedly snorting ants with Mötley Crüe to defiling the Alamo to biting the head off a bat—have become the stuff of legend, nothing scarred Ozzy’s chemically addled psyche as deeply as the night he almost strangled his wife. It still pains him to recall the event, in part because, he admits, “Even that didn’t stop me drinking!”
In a frank interview with Guitar World, Osbourne reveals why he cleaned up, the reasons for Zakk’s departure, how he chose Gus G., Black Sabbath’s future and why you should always take care of the bell-ringer.
GUITAR WORLD Why did you decide to get sober?
OZZY OSBOURNE The drugs and drink didn’t work. Everything turned to shit. I used to think that the whole world drank. In my world they did. I don’t know another job where you can turn up out of your brains and people around you say, “It’s going to be a good one tonight!”
GW How did you go about stopping?
OSBOURNE The first thing I quit was tobacco. I couldn’t do anything without a cigarette, but I’m a singer so that had to go. Then the illegal drugs went, but I was also addicted to prescription drugs for 25 years.
GW Do you notice a difference making music sober?
OSBOURNE Absolutely! I used to be under the illusion that alcohol and drugs help you create melodies. I used to think, How the fuck can I write music without smoking a joint or taking a line of coke? I made the decision that if I can’t do it sober, then I’m finished.
When I was working on Scream, I spoke to [Black Sabbath drummer] Bill Ward, who’s been sober 25 years, and I said, “Fucking hell, Bill, I’m struggling here.” He said an interesting thing: “Allow somebody to help you.” I want it to be all me. It’s hard for me to ask for help. And not only that: if I ask for help I have trouble accepting it.
GW You have a history of relapsing after short periods of abstinence. Has it been easier staying sober this time around?
OSBOURNE It’s never easy. Halfway through making this album I turned to my producer and said, “Kevin, I’m tempted to get stoned,” because you can get a license to smoke in California. They give you a card. I was toying with that one for a while. The one thing I’ve got to be careful of is that some days my head will go and I’ll think, Hmmm… I’ve never tried Ecstasy. But I know it’ll take me to the same place as all the other shit that I’ve tried. I know that if I took some cocaine now I’d be drinking in half an hour and then I’d have some more cocaine to keep me awake. It’s like a nuthouse in my head. I like being sober today.
GW Tell me about your first experience singing sober.
OSBOURNE Well, I never used to go onstage drunk, I always used to wait until after the show. Having said that, I probably had enough left in me from the night before anyway.