In many ways, at least professionally, Ozzy Osbourne had a very good 2022. He followed up his critically acclaimed 2020 comeback LP, Ordinary Man, with Patient Number 9, which just received four Grammy nominations — his most nominations ever for a single album — and spawned two back-to-back No. 1 rock radio singles.
But the metal legend won’t be satisfied until he is able to play this new material during a full concert.
“I just wanna get back on that stage. I've gotta get back on that stage. It’s driving me nuts, not being able to,” Ozzy laments, speaking to Yahoo Entertainment via Zoom from his Los Angeles home. “I can't relax. I’ve always gotta be doing something. … I mean, I could say let’s call it a day, but I can't stop. There’s nothing like a good gig, and there's nothing like a bad gig — because a bad gig makes you wanna do a good gig, better than before! A great gig is better than any sex or drug. There’s nothing to compare it to.”
Ozzy, who just turned 74 on Dec. 3, has been spotted out and about looking frail and walking with a cane, but when he talks about the possibility of performing full concerts again — something he hopes to do in spring/summer 2023, when he still has 19 tour dates on the books — he absolutely lights up with youthful energy. However, he admits that he’s mostly feeling his age these days. “I can remember when I was 69 and thinking, ‘I wonder when I’ll start to feel old, when I’ll start to feel everything?’” he says ruefully. “And suddenly, when I turned 70, the floodgates opened. It was one thing after the other. … This is the longest time I've been sick in my life.”
Ozzy rattles off his list of health issues, dating back almost two decades. “About 2003, I had that quad bike accident, right? But I checked myself outta hospital, and I carried on working. Then, I found out that I had Parkinson's disease. So, I just figured to everything went down to the Parkinson's, as all these things started to melt on me. Four years ago, I did a New Year's Eve show at the Forum [in Los Angeles]. I came back to the house here, and I got up to use the bathroom in the night. Never put any lights on. Went to the bathroom, came back, and I thought in the darkness, ‘Well, my bed must be about there.’ And I jumped on the bed — but it weren’t there. I miscalculated. I landed really badly on the floor. … I just fell flat and I lay there. And I said, ‘Sharon, you better call the doctor, an ambulance, because think I broke my neck.’ I knew I'd landed really badly. I just laid there till the ambulance came.
“I went to the hospital, and they said they wanted do an MRI,” Ozzy continues. “And it turned out that from the accident in 2003, I’d damaged my spinal column. It was pinching on my nerve. I had all these malfunctions. I was walking weird and whatever, but it was not from the Parkinson's — it turned out that I'd squashed the tube where spinal cord goes, and there was this pressure. So, I went into the hospital and this guy said to me, ‘If you don't have surgery, you’ve got a good chance of being paralyzed. Sorry, but you gotta do the surgery.’”
Unfortunately, Ozzy didn’t get a second opinion, which he now deeply regrets. “[That surgeon] completely did a bad job. … I came out of surgery, and I've been crippled ever since,” he reveals. “And I just thought, ‘Well, maybe it's gonna take a bit longer to get back to normal.’ But that never materialized. I walk better now, I'm a bit better than I was, but I've still got a ways to go. It’s amazing, what something so silly and simple can do to the rest of your life. It's crazy. I've had nothing but trouble for the last four years. … I’ve had two surgeries since to put right what this guy has done, but the damage that that surgeon did was worse [than the Parkinson's]. I mean, to be honest, the Parkinson's thing, they said they've never seen such a mild case of Parkinson's. But that's no money in the bank, because you can go to bed, wake up tomorrow, and you could be different.”
Ozzy’s many health issues understandably put him in funk, but when super-producer Andrew Watt approached him back in 2019 to guest on Post Malone’s single “Take What You Want,” that collaboration led to Ozzy’s first full album in a decade, the Watt-produced Ordinary Man. And that put a spring Ozzy’s step, so to speak. “It got me out of the shithole that I'd got into. I thought it was fun to do. It was a different kind of music, I suppose, but it kept my head above water,” says Ozzy. “Andrew was a good help. I mean, this kid can f***ing sweat songs. … It just kept me going, because when I ain't thinking about me and getting back on the stage, I had nothing else to think about. It was like my liferaft.”
Ozzy underwent what his wife Sharon described as another “life-changing” operation this past June, and he’s currently in physical therapy, “where they put these bionic legs on you — it's a Japanese thing.” And Ozzy says he’s “about 70% better. … Before, I couldn't lift my head; now, I can lift my head. My range of motion on my neck was very restricted. I mean, friends of mine visited me in hospital and said, ‘I've gotta be honest, I thought you were on your last… I didn't think you were gonna come out here.’ I was in a terrible state in hospital for three months.”
Sharon had her own health scare this past weekend and was rushed to the hospital for an undisclosed medical emergency, although Ozzy insists she is doing “OK” now. “She's so busy being Sharon, organizing me and the kids and the house and the business,” he says. “I tell her, ‘Sharon, for my sake, you've gotta start to listen to your body. We ain't getting any younger!’ … Having a hard time walking around is not good for us, the Osbournes. But my family have been the best. My wife's golden. She's been the best wife. I've got a nurse here to take care of me. But I'm still not ready to put my stage shoes on — and that's where I belong.”
Ozzy and Sharon are obviously both survivors, and they recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary, against all odds. “Forty years have gone by like a flash,” says Ozzy, who freely admits, “If I'd not met Sharon, and fallen in love with Sharon, I'd be dead. Without any shadow of a doubt, I would be dead. Through her tough love, she kept my head above water. She kicked my butt. … Sharon's a fighter. She would call me out all the time. We had some monumental fights over the years — f***in’ hell, hotel room demolished! … But I think I met my soulmate, in the end. It took me a long time to realize that.”
Ozzy doesn’t live with too many regrets, other than his above-mentioned botched surgery, although he admits, “I regret getting married to my first wife [Thelma Riley], because I didn't really love her. I had two children with her, and I regret the fact that I wasn't there for them. Although my son from that marriage [Louis], I'm very tight with, my daughter from that marriage [Jessica], if I parted the f***ing ocean, she wouldn't be happy. She knows my phone number, if she ever wants to talk to me.” His other big regret, looking back on his 74 years, is that his infidelity during his second “rock ‘n’ roll marriage” nearly cost him the family he’d built with Sharon.
“Looking back on that era to my life when I was screwing around, I don't know why [I did that],” Ozzy says with a shake of his head. “They say men have a seven-year itch or something; mine was a bit later. But I honestly can't understand why I did that. Because I love my wife. I love my family. I love them. I couldn't have a better family if I tried to.
“You have like a moment of clarity and you look at [your life],” Ozzy continues. “I don't drink booze anymore. I don't get stoned anymore. I don't womanize anymore. I don't do any of that. And I don't smoke tobacco. I've given up a lot of my vices. … You suddenly got a moment of clarity and you go, ‘What the hell am I doing?’ Because it all goes by so quickly. So, you get on with it. You just check yourself. ‘Do you really want to live like this?’ Sharon said to me one day. ‘How long do you think you want to go on doing this?’ You know, I never went out with the intention of having a few drinks and coming home in a police car in handcuffs. It wasn’t my idea of going out, coming back, and strangling my wife and being charged with attempted murder. But that happened. I'm not proud of it. It was pretty scary for my wife.
“But she stuck with me. And I stuck with her. It’s two-way street. When I meet these people that go, ‘Oh, we've been married 30 years and we’ve never had an argument,’ I think, You must have been f***ing bored!’”
Along with his hopes to tour in 2023, Ozzy also looks forward to recording with Watt again. “These [past two] albums came together so easily and quickly. I mean, when Andrew said to me, ‘How about getting Jeff Beck? What about getting Eric Clapton?’ — I said, ‘I don't think they'd want to be anything to do with me!’” But those two artists did guest on Patient Number 9, and Ozzy, a huge Beatles fan, confesses that his future dream collaborator would be Paul McCartney. “That will never happen. I asked him one time, and he had some excuse,” he shrugs. “But [if that duet did happen], then I could go, ‘OK, I've achieved all my dreams.’”
Regardless of who guests on the next Ozzy album, he will have plenty to write about. “If I'm happy, it's the wrong time [to write]. When I'm miserable, when I'm pissed off with everything, that's when I start to come out with good ideas,” he chuckles. But the Prince of Darkness is still trying to maintain a sunny attitude through it all.
“It's not a job, what I do. It’s a passion,” he says. “I don't have to get up at 7 in the morning to trudge through the day to go to work. It’s a pretty good life. … So, considering all the things I'd gotten away with over the years, I can't really complain. … Even today, when I think of some of the things that I've done, I shiver, you know? Because I could have been dead. … You name it, I've been there, I've done it, and I've survived. It eventually caught me and bit me on the butt, but it ain't killed me. And I ain't gonna stop.”
Watch Ozzy Osbourne’s full, extended Yahoo Entertainment interview above, in which he also discusses the 20th anniversary of MTV’s The Osbournes, his rumored biopic, moving back to the U.K., and Taylor Hawkins playing on Patient Number 9.
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