The notorious “Heavy Metal Madman,” John Michael “Ozzy”Osbourne, is perhaps the most celebrated and widely recognized artist to ever work in the heavy metal genre. Born on December 3, 1948, in Birmingham, England, Ozzy became a founding member of Black Sabbath, which laid the very foundation for heavy metal with their early ‘70s albums, including essential titles like ‘Paranoid,’ ‘Master of Reality’ and ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.’
After parting ways with Sabbath in 1978, Ozzy embarked on an initially discredited solo career, only to turn the tables on his former bandmates (who had enjoyed an immediate rebirth with his replacement, Ronnie James Dio, before falling on hard times themselves) with the help of guitar hero Randy Rhoads, and hit albums like ‘Blizzard of Ozz’ and ‘Diary of a Madman.’ Not even Rhoads’ tragic death in an airplane crash could derail Ozzy’s newfound career momentum – though Ozzy himself sure gave it his best shot, via his chronic drug abuse and infamous antics that ranged from urinating on the Alamo to biting off the heads of assorted flying creatures.
Another hot shot guitarist, Jake E. Lee, backed Ozzy for two strong albums, 1983’s ‘Bark at the Moon’ and ’86’s ‘The Ultimate Sin,’ before giving way to Zakk Wylde for 1988’s ‘No Rest for the Wicked’ and 1991’s career highlight ‘No More Tears,’ after which Osbourne announced his retirement. But this lasted all of a few months, and by 1995 he had a new solo album, ‘Ozzmosis,’ in record stores and was soon to embark on the first of his annual Ozzfests (devised with manager and wife Sharon Osbourne), which became the preeminent heavy metal festival of the ensuing decade and, among other things, accelerated his touring reunion with Black Sabbath.
The band might have also resumed their recording activities in 2002, if not for the breakaway success of the reality TV show, ‘The Osbournes,’ which transformed Ozzy from heavy metal legend to mainstream celebrity, and convinced him to devote the third millennium’s first decade to more solo albums and tours, instead of Sabbath. Finally, 2011 saw the seminal old band’s official reunion (minus drummer Bill Ward) for the recording of 2013’s ’13’ album, and it currently appears as though Osbourne will remain committed to Black Sabbath for the immediate future, while continuing to pursue the odd extra-curricular projects relating to his widespread fame.
Ozzy has had a successful solo career, releasing 11 studio albums, the first seven of which were all awarded multi-platinum certifications in the U.S.
Ozzy’s total album sales from his years in Black Sabbath, combined with his solo work, is over 100 million. As a member of Black Sabbath, he was inducted into the U.S. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and he was inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame as a solo artist and as a member of the band. He has a star on the Birmingham Walk of Stars in his hometown as well as the Hollywood Walk of Fame. At the 2014 MTV Europe Music Awards he received the Global Icon Award.
Ozzy’s longevity and success as well as his “Prince of Darkness” persona have earned him the informal title of the “Godfather of Heavy Metal“.
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