Meet the Osbourne. He’s a funny type, crude and scatty. He’s probably more aware of his own myth than he’s given credit for and he’s certainly become increasingly aware of his own mortality in recent times.
Which largely explains why Black Sabbath are venturing out on The End tour, hitting Perth on April 15. It’s the second time in three years lucky Perth audiences have the chance to witness founding members Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist and songwriter Tony Iommi and bassist/lyricist Geezer Butler together. And probably the last.
“We were going to do an album,” Osbourne says from LA. “But I’m 67, it would take three or four years to write and record the album because that’s the way it goes, by which time I’d be 72, and then we were going to do a farewell tour. We’d be f…… dead.
“I would rather go while we’re still able to do it than be a corpse in front of a mike.”
His own mortality was pulled into focus with the passing in December of old friend and Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister, while he lives day to day with Iommi’s lymphoma battle.
Osbourne is also clearly shaken by another friend, Malcolm Young, and the struggles with dementia that forced him to retire from AC/DC in 2014. He describes the Australian hard rockers as his favourite band.
“AC/DC are my favourite, they’re f…… great,” Osbourne says. “I’m sorry Malcolm’s not doing too well. My thoughts and prayers go out, he’s a good guy, always has been.
“I’ve always gotten on well with all of them, they always treated me with the greatest of respect and I do the same with them.”
John Michael “Ozzy” Osbourne is many things to many people. Godfather of heavy metal, TV personality, reformed junkie, Prince of Darkness and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer to name a few. One thing he could never be accused of, through controversy and lean times artistically, is resting on his laurels. He has kept busy releasing 20 albums between Black Sabbath and a successful solo career, selling 100 million copies along the way.
His legend has also been bolstered by novel concepts such as The Osbournes hit reality-TV series and music festival Ozzfest. More notoriously, in separate incidents in the 1980s he bit the head off a dove then a bat.
Somewhat surprisingly, he describes fellow rock icon Steven Tyler of Aerosmith as an inspiration for joining American Idol recently.
“I met Steven the other day and he just got this gig on American Idol and I said ‘Congratulations’,” Osbourne says. “And he goes ‘You’re the first person to say that, everyone thinks I’ve sold out’. I said to him ‘It’s f…… work!’
“He must have got a good cheque for doing that. Would anybody turn that kind of work down? Here’s $25 million, I don’t want it. That’s when you really need a therapist.”
To this day, he is best loved for singing in the first and perhaps greatest of all heavy metal acts, Black Sabbath, formed in 1968. Osbourne rejoined the legends in 2013 to release 13, their first album together since 1978’s Never Say Die.
How long they continue is in the air, but if there’s one thing Osbourne knows, it’s that come hell or high water he’ll keep working. He’s not afraid to put the blame squarely on wife (and manager) Sharon Osbourne’s shoulders for that, crudely suggesting she has a shopping problem.
“I know one thing,” he says. “I’m going to do an album and carry on my own solo career.
“My wife loves shopping, so I’ll be working in the next f…… life. My wife buys a thousand pairs of shoes, and I go ‘Hang on, can you roll over? I want to see how many feet you have.’ I thought I’d married a f…… millipede.”
Black Sabbath play Perth Arena on April 15. Tickets from Ticketek
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