At 73 years old, and having suffered with Parkinson’s Disease since 2003, the rock ‘n’ roll world would understand if Ozzy Osbourne hung up his boots. But the Prince of Darkness’s musical fire continues to burn bright.
In a new interview with The Guardian, Ozzy reveals tentative plans for a new tour following the release of his upcoming 13th solo album, Patient Number 9, and even hints at a followup record with his former Black Sabbath bandmate, Tony Iommi.
“That’s me in a nutshell,” Ozzy says, referencing a lyric from his new album’s penultimate song, God Only Knows, in which he sings that it’s “better to burn in hell than fade away”.
“I’m saying to you I’ll give it the best shot I can for another tour. You have not seen the end of Ozzy Osbourne, I promise you. If I have to go up there and die on the first song, I’ll still be back the next day.”
The interview doesn’t mention Ozzy’s exact comments regarding a new album with Tony Iommi, though it is revealed that he and his wife Sharon are moving back to the UK, where he’s having a studio installed at their Buckinghamshire residence.
Ozzy and Iommi have collaborated on a number of musical projects as of late – including a song on Patient Number 9 titled Degradation Rules – so further collaborations look likely.
The pair also reunited earlier this month for a triumphant surprise performance at the closing ceremony for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in their hometown of Birmingham, England, in which they played Paranoid and a trimmed-down version of Iron Man.
Ozzy looked in fine spirits during the show, proclaiming to the crowd gathered at the Alexander Stadium: “I love you all Birmingham – [it's] good to be back!”
As Sharon Osbourne recalls, organizers of the closing ceremony called to ask if Ozzy could perform six days before the show.
“[They] said: ‘Do you think Ozzy could do it now?’” she explains. “And I said to him: ‘Can you do it?’ He said yeah, and that was it. Six days, turned it around, booked the flight, got everybody together.”
Ozzy notes he initially had some hesitation before agreeing to do the show. “I said to Sharon: ‘I can’t fucking perform.’ She said: ‘Are you sure?’ And I thought about it, and I thought: ‘Fuck it, I’m gonna go for it.’ It’s one song – and I’ve sung it every fucking night for the last 55 years, so it’s not like I’m going to forget the fucking words!”
Keen-eyed audience members and those watching the show live may have noticed a back support bracket behind Ozzy as he performed. This was at the request of his wife Sharon, who admits she was “very nervous” at the prospect of her husband falling onstage.
“Sharon had them put in a bracket at the back to hold me up,” Ozzy says. “So I was kind of leaning against that. And I was holding a microphone. I was kind of wedged in.”
Rock and roll clearly remains Ozzy Osbourne’s lifeblood; after the show, the singer, who usually walks with a cane, walked to his car unaided. “After the gig, Ozzy walked to the car – with no cane,” Sharon says. “[He] just walked, normally. Kelly [Osbourne, their daughter] and I were behind him and we’re going, Jesus Christ…”
Ozzy Osbourne’s new album Patient Number 9 arrives September 9 via Epic Records. Two singles have been released so far: Degradation Rules and its title track, which features Jeff Beck.
While no official credits have been released yet, the record is reportedly set to feature an all-star backing band including Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, and Metallica’s Robert Trujillo and Black Label Society’s Zakk Wylde, who have played in Ozzy lineups before.