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  Ozzy - Pitied or Scorned?
by J. Grant Swank, Pastor
19 January 2003

A brief history of Ozzy Osbourne and the way he is.

Ozzy's English boyhood was poor - father worked nights in a steel plant, mother worked days at a car plant. No money, no auto, meager food. He claims as a child he had one pair of shoes, no underpants, trousers, and one jacket. At the base of his bed was a bucket for urinating in. There were no clean sheets on his bed, overcoats were used as sheets when all else failed. Dad beat on Ozzy, chiefly for the boy's attempts to murder his siblings.

Ozzy's youth was sprinkled with criminal activity. He robbed a TV set. Balancing it as he climbed over a wall, it tumbled down on him. He got caught in more break-ins, not able to pay fines, ending up for several months in Birmingham's Winson Green Prison.  

After being released for stealing, he landed in the hospital for 12 hours after being tossed through a window while fighting off several men.

Ozzy would later admit: "I am something of a madman. I can do nothing in moderation. If it's booze, I drink the place dry. If it's drugs, I take everything and then scrape the carpet for little crumbs. I took LSD every day for years - I was spending about $1000 a week on drugs. I OD'd about a dozen times."  

His first solo album, "Blizzard of Ozz," had a song, "Suicide Solution." There are those who claim that its title is misleading; that is, that it does not endorse suicide but instead does just the opposite - it discourages it.

Ozzy penned the lyrics after AC/DC friend Bon Scott died after a bad winter's night with liquor. Scott slipped from consciousness while in his auto, hypothermia finally taking him out.  

Ozzy then wrote his song to warn about alcohol's deadly poison ("solution" defined as "mixture"); however, the term "solution" was regarded as "the answer" instead.  

The lyrics are:

Suicide Solution

Wine is fine
But whiskey's quicker
Suicide is slow with liquor
Take a bottle drain your sorrows
Then it cuts away tomorrows
Evil thoughts and evil doings
Cold, alone you hang in ruins
Thought that you'd escape the reaper
You can't escape the master keeper
'Cause you feel life's unreal and you're living a lie
Such a shame who's to blame and you're wondering why
Then you ask from your cask is there life after birth
What you saw can mean hell on this earth
Now you live inside a bottle
The reaper's traveling at full throttle
It's catching you but you don't see
The reaper is you and the reaper is me
Breaking laws, knocking doors
But there's no one at home
Made your bed, rest your head
But you lie there and moan
Where to hide, suicide is the only way out
Don't you know what it's really about.

Born John Michael Osbourne on December 3, 1948, he became best known as lead singer in Black Sabbath, heavy metal's standard. The band's name referred to a classic Boris Karloff movie.  

Black Sabbath's first release was in 1970. "Paranoid" came out in 1971 with "War Pigs," "Iron Man," and "Paranoid." A third album, "Master of Reality," came out in 1972, then "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath," "Sabotage," and "Technical Ecstasy."

Black Sabbath's name, plus the band's use of religious symbols and themes, yielded ongoing criticism from conservatives.  

In 1978, Ozzy left the band to go solo. His "Blizzard of Ozz" (1980) popped the charts, as did "His Diary of a Madman."  

Characterizing himself constantly as a beleaguered lonesome waif, social outcast and tempery upstart, he added repulsive dramatics - throwing raw meat at his audiences, urinating at the Alamo, biting off a dove's head during a business session and biting off a live bat's head while performing.  

"I Don't Want To Change the World" brought Ozzy his Grammy.  

Substance abuse stalked him at every turn. It had become his dark companion during his entire career. Confessing to Barbara Walter in a 2002 telecast, he spoke plainly concerning his daily struggles. Sharon, his wife, corroborated same.  

The family's "reality" TV exposure in "The Osbournes" features a wandering Ozzy, foul-mouthed, along with his wife and children, except one daughter who refuses to participate in the filming. Proving to be a viewers' delight, the program presents Ozzy as a growing-older Beverly Hills dad with big time problems - while making millions on the venture.  

In the house inhabited by the strange ensemble, there is a urinal in the bathroom. Why? Ozzy kept urinating on the toilet seat; Sharon would have none of it.

In those lush environs lives household head Ozzy - the fellow who once beat his teachers with an iron stick, when only 11 stabbed his auntie's cat, as a youth broke into his elderly neighbor's house while she was at her work, set barns on fire in cornfields, and when 14 attempted to take his life with a clothesline. (His father caught him, beat him, and set him free.)  

This is the man who tried to ring his brother's neck, set his sister aflame by pouring gas on her clothing, and was once visited by the FBI because they thought Ozzy was going to urinate on the White House steps.

Ozzy once put a gun to 17 of his own kittens, defecated in a posh hotel's elevator - discovered with his trousers around his ankles as the doors opened, and spent his first royalty check on a pair of shoes and some perfume for his mother.  

When he was married to his first wife, Thelma, she asked him to take his turn in feeding the chickens. He balked; instead, he went to the yard and with a shotgun put an end to the fowl.  

Ozzy once presented $25,000 to the SPCA to help balance out some of the negative publicity involving animals.  

In the summer of 2002, Sharon announced being diagnosed with colon cancer. However, such would not terminate the family's TV contract as another deal was signed in the fall. Further, Sharon agreed to be hostess to a daily sixty-minute syndicated talk show beginning in autumn 2003.

So there's Ozzy - star, father, husband, addict, confessing to daily clinging to sanity, fighting off the demons. This is the man who once was so drunk he slipped under the restaurant's table, discovered later by the cleaning maid who hit him over the head with her broom, concluding him to be a homeless nuisance.

He's trashed hotel rooms, ripped thermostats off walls, yanked pictures from their walls, ripped TV sets from their moorings, broken fire extinguishers glass and then sprayed whoever was in sight.  

He once set about to market a T-shirt which would read, "If your day is totally screwed up, blame Ozzy Osbourne."  

So there you have it - pitied or scorned - John Michael Osbourne.

Email J. Grant Swank


Joseph Grant Swank, Jr., Pastor, New Hope Church, Windham ME

Graduate of accredited college (BA) and seminary (M Div) with graduate work at Harvard Divinity School.

Married for 41 years with 3 adult children.

Author of 5 books and over 2000 articles in various Protestant and Catholic
magazines, journals and newspapers. Writer of weekly religion column for
PORTLAND PRESS HERALD newspaper, Portland ME.

Hobbies: Traveling to South America, Europe, Middle East, Canada; writing;
watercolor painting; meeting new friends.

Current occupations: Pastor; Teacher at Alternative Learning School for
at-risk youths.

Pastorates: Calgary, Alberta; Indianapolis IN; Akron OH; Fishkill NY;
Manchester CT; Walpole MA; Windham ME.

Winner of First Prize Writing Contest which yielded a three-week guided tour
of the Middle East.

Columnist for websites: MensNewsDaily.com, IntellectualConservative.com, MichNews.com,
Chalcedon.com, rePUNK.com, ConservativeTruth.com, FreeRepublic.com (USO Canteen Chapel link), WoundedShepherds.com (Insights link).