For nearly five decades now, Ozzy Osbourne has cultivated one of the most singular careers in music. He helped lay the foundation for heavy metal with Black Sabbath; he ushered in a new, more energetic sound for the genre on his early solo albums with the late Randy Rhoads; he helped make reality television what it is today by putting his family on the small screen with The Osbournes; and he provided a platform for up-and-coming heavy bands with his many installments of Ozzfest. Through it all, he’s kept a wry sense of humor and a rare humility about him.
“Somebody once said to me, ‘What’s the best gift you ever got?’ and it hit me that had my father not bought me a microphone, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you now,” says the vocalist, who was the MVP of Rolling Stone‘s recent 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time list, appearing on more LPs that made the cut than any other artist. Then he pauses to reflect on just what that means, considering he’s now coming up on five years clean and sober after leading one of the wildest lives in rock. “By all accounts, I should have been dead fucking 40 years ago.”
Instead, he’s playing solo concerts throughout the fall with another famous guitar foil, Zakk Wylde, including the headlining slot of Ozzfest Meets Knotfest in October. While he was in a reflective mood during his interview with Rolling Stone, the singer shared the wisdom he’s learned from half a century of living on the edge.
What’s the best part of success?
Not doing a job that you don’t really want to do. You can’t say what I do is a job – it’s a fucking gift from God.
You and Sharon are still together after 35 years, despite some bumps in the road, including a well-publicized affair. What’s your secret?