Happy 70th birthday, Ozzy Osbourne! Rock legend talks marriage, sobriety, and retirement
“When the first Black Sabbath album came out, I remember thinking, ‘This will be OK for a few years.’ And here we are … 50 years later.”
So says metal legend Ozzy Osbourne, who incredibly turns 70 this week, on Dec. 3. He’s reclining in the darkly appointed rock ‘n’ roll den of his Gothic Los Angeles mansion, while his wife/manager Sharon, children Kelly and Jack, and a pack of adorable purse dogs hang out in the backyard, discuss his “No More Tours 2” solo farewell trek (Black Sabbath’s goodbye tour wrapped in February 2017, with an “emotional” show in the band’s native Birmingham, England). And although he stresses that he’s not retiring entirely from performing or making music, he’s ready to focus on his family.
“I just want to slow it down and spend more time with my grandchildren, my family, my wife, because it gets lonely,” he tells Yahoo Entertainment. “Because now I don’t drink or get loaded. I don’t go out; I just stay in my room. And I think my life passes me by. Suddenly I’m 69, 70 — I’m 70 [this] December.”
It’s interesting, and heartening, to hear Ozzy speak of his desire to spend quality time with his wife of 35 years — literally half his lifetime — considering that not long ago, it seemed like the Osbournes’ tumultuous marriage was over. In May 2016, the two announced their separation amid reports of Ozzy’s infidelity, but they eventually called off their divorce — and by July 2017, they were on the mend, even renewing their vows in a Las Vegas ceremony.
“We went astray for about half a year, and then I said to Sharon, ‘You know what? Let’s start again,’” says a beaming Ozzy, who appears to have a new lease on life in many ways. “It’s great, better than ever. We just fell in love all over again. I renewed my vows in Las Vegas, and it’s been, so far, better than it’s ever been. We’ve renewed our vows about three times now, but this time, I was sober … so I remember it!”
The Osbournes have endured more ups and downs than typical couples — even rock ‘n’ roll couples — but Ozzy seems grateful that their union has survived against all odds. “Marriage is the heaviest contract you will ever sign. You are basically saying, ‘I will give me to you, and you will give you to me,’ and whatever comes along with it,” he muses. “So, it’s for better for worse, for sickness and in health.” As for his marital advice, he says, “When it’s a good bit, everybody likes it. But when it’s a bad bit, don’t jump off, because you made the commitment in the first place! I mean, it gets rough, it gets good.”
Sharon, Kelly, and Jack are joining Ozzy on select dates of his tour, but Ozzy seems regretful about bringing his children on the road when they were little, during his wild ’80s heyday. “It’s no place to bring kids. … There’s bad things, drinking,” he says. “By the time we got to the TV show [MTV’s The Osbournes], my son was an alcoholic. … They grew up too quick, and when I’m working, I can’t really spend quality time with them.”
Both Kelly and Jack are sober now, and Ozzy says he hasn’t indulged in alcohol or drugs for five years. He’s been sober before, of course, but now, as he looks to a mellower future, he seems confident that he can stay clean, thanks to daily AA meetings, even while he’s on the road. “Unfortunately, if I want to stay sane-er, I gotta go to these meetings,” he chuckles. “I have my sponsor, who’s my sober companion, that I’ll be going to the meetings everywhere now. It’s good fun, actually, because I’ve been to meetings in Stockholm, where they don’t speak English. You go to a meeting, and it’s good.”
Ozzy is proud that his children have successfully fought their own addiction battles, but he refrains from counseling or lecturing them. “I’m not good at advice, because you’re responsible for your own thoughts, and you gotta piss or get off the pipe,” he shrugs. “They say, ‘Dad, what do you think I should do?’ Well, I can tell them what I did, or what I’m trying to do, but ultimately, the person who’s the [addict] has to do it for themselves.
“I tried doing it for my family, my band, my audience, and I could never do it until I said, ‘Look, what are you going to do?’ Because anyone can be dry, but I suddenly realized the alcohol and the drugs were a symptom of the problem,” he continues. “I was self-medicating with alcohol. My thought process was wrong, and so it took me a long time. I couldn’t appreciate anything I did. I thought making lots of money would fix it. It didn’t. A bigger house didn’t. Marriage to two different women [Ozzy was with his first wife, Thelma, from 1971 to 1982] didn’t. So, I got to a point where I ran out of options, and I thought, ‘Well, what the f*** is it?’ You know, it’s me. It’s me. I’ve got to learn to live life on life’s terms.”
With Ozzy’s final concert run being named “No More Tours 2” — a cheeky reference to “No More Tours” in 1992, which was supposed to be his farewell tour — it’s understandable that some fans might think he is crying wolf. He even had to cancel the last four dates of the tour, due to a serious infection in his right hand that required surgery (he’ll perform makeup dates in 2019). But Osbourne says he’s serious this time and explains that he attempted to quit touring before only because he had been mistakenly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. (Ironically, Ozzy’s son Jack was correctly diagnosed with MS in 2012.)
“People were saying to me, ‘What’s wrong with you? You’ve got this tremor,’” he recalls. “While we were doing this show, this tremor thing wouldn’t go away, and I used to think it was from the booze — the DTs, you know.” After a run of tests, he was told he had “a little bit of MS,” to which Sharon said, “‘What do you mean, a little bit of MS?’ It’s like telling me I’m a little bit pregnant. You either are or you aren’t.” Eventually, Ozzy was diagnosed with Parkin syndrome, a genetic condition with symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease, which he controls with daily medication. And he canceled his retirement plans.
Even now, the older, sober, and “sane-er” Ozzy isn’t going away quietly. “The only thing I want to get straight is I’m not retiring; I’m just not touring the world like a road rat anymore,” he stresses. Watch his entire Yahoo Entertainment interview (in which he discusses family, marriage, the perils of reality TV “megastardom,” Black Sabbath, and more) below.
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:
Black Sabbath’s Ozzy Osbourne and Geezer Butler talk ‘The End of the End’
Black Sabbath’s Ozzy Osbourne and Geezer Butler remember Lemmy and Bowie
Sharon Osbourne remembers not-so-promising first meeting with Ozzy
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