Ozzy Osbourne

Rocker, philosopher, bat-biter and family man Ozzy Osbourne has always had a passion for one thing, making music as loudly as possible. Born in 1948 in Birmingham, young John Osbourne realised early on his destiny would not take him along the academic route. Leaving school at 15, he found a job as a car horn-tester instead.

Supplementing his wages by branching out into burglary, before long he found himself in prison. Upon his release with a new tattoo reading O-Z-Z-Y across his knuckles and now certain that the music scene was where he needed to be Ozzy decided to join a band.

Forever in search of the loudest in the land, Ozzy joined and left a series of hard rock outfits before finding Earth, which later adopted the name of an old Boris Karloff movie, giving birth to the legendary Black Sabbath. "As long as there are kids who are pissed off and have no real way of venting that anger, heavy metal will live on," he declared.

The outfit's first record was released in 1970 and a series of hit albums followed. During these years the inimitable Oz also gained a wife, two children, a substance abuse problem and a very bad reputation. His hotel-trashing incidents became infamous and rumours of Satanism began to circulate. "The only black magic we ever got into was a box of chocolates," he insisted. But the media's appetite for "Ozzy's-a-looney" stories was insatiable and his angry outbursts including one in 1976 when he shot dead a coopful of chickens didn't help matters.

The following year his father died and Ozzy's enthusiasm for the band waned. His persistent absence from rehearsals eventually resulted in him being fired, and night fell on the Black Sabbath era. Ozzy disappeared into a deep depression and pattern of drug use, which eventually cost him his marriage.

Redemption came in the form of Sharon Arden, whose remarkable combination of talents as a mother, wife and manager would make the Osbournes the first family of rock. The daughter of pop manager Don Arden, Sharon took over the troubled artist's career and, of course, his heart.

He was soon re-established, and the press' obsession with him became as strong as ever. Needless to say, his antics only served to feed their appetite. When a fan threw a bat at him during a stage performance and he famously bit its head off, it wasn't just animal rights activists that branded him as sick and sadistic. Insisting he'd thought it was a rubber toy, the singer underwent treatment for rabies.

Texans joined the ranks of Ozzy-haters in 1982 when he drunkenly relieved himself on part of the Alamo war memorial, earning himself a night in jail and a lifetime ban from the state. It is unlikely his subsequent reflections did much to assuage their anger: "I can honestly say all the bad things that ever happened to me were directly attributed to drugs and alcohol. I mean, I would never urinate at the Alamo at nine o'clock in the morning dressed in a woman's evening dress sober."

When he signed a new contract with CBS Records, his wife suggested he release two doves as a "peace offering" during a party thrown by his old label. He arrived rather intoxicated, however, and opted to bite the head of one of the birds instead. Another day, another media uproar… "Of all the things I have lost, I think I miss my mind the most," he joked.

After undergoing treatment for his addictions, Ozzy continued to find success, winning his first Grammy for the song I Don't Wanna Change The World off the 1992 album No More Tears. He and Sharon then launched Ozzfest, a touring festival of heavy rock acts, which was so successful it went back on the road in 1998. His status as the "King Of Loud" was confirmed.

It is, however, The Osbournes TV show which has made Ozzy, Sharon and teenage children Kelly and Jack, the world's most popular family. The planet's maddest dad is also the "King Of The Ratings," it seems, as his family's not so day-to-day lives continue to fascinate audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. And despite announcing his retirement almost a decade ago, Ozzy shows no sign of slowing down.
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