In this My Spilt Milk podcast, Ozzy talks about his friends, Black Sabbath, Guns N' Roses and more.
I haven’t found Ozzy Osbourne (Saturday, 9:30 p.m., Altar) menacing or scary since the early years of Black Sabbath. There was something slightly menacing in his broad grin and arch voice, particularly when paired with the relentless heaviness of the band. For most of his solo career, any darkness was mitigated by his legend, which became as heavy as Sabbath to pull around. Osbourne’s reputation for excess and impulsive behavior became his opening act and the lead cut on each album, and it reminded listeners that no matter what comes next, this is the guy who smoked, snorted and drank everything put in front of him. His middle name had become “Bites the Heads off Bats.”
The Osbournes, perversely, helped tweak that image in valuable ways. During the MTV reality show, he showed the effects of years of self-destructive activity, including prescription drug abuse that he admitted to after the show ended. Ozzy owned the condition he was in, unlike Poison’s Bret Michaels, say, who was never shot without his do-rag on his head during VH-1’s Rock of Love. The show also made Osbourne interesting again when it presented him as a TV dad—Happy Days’ Mr. C. or Home Improvement’s Tim Taylor trying to sort out real family problems with the slightly compromised tools at his disposal. The show gave you a reason to care about Ozzy.
In this conversation, Ozzy’s as unedited as you’d be if you were a 67-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. He knew that this was for The New Orleans Advocate as well, but that didn’t stop the F-bombs from flowing once he got warm. The sense I got was that the Voodoo set would have been a Black Sabbath show if not for Tony Iommi’s cancer diagnosis, and I came away thinking about the mixed impact of fame on him. People are interested in Ozzy in a way they aren’t in many of his contemporaries (in years of levels of liver damage), but that means online media treats almost everything he says as more concrete and deliberate than he does. Throughout this conversation, he says what he’s thinking including what he’d like to do next. He has answered that question a number of times in different interviews and come up with different answers on a number of occasions. In this one, he has an answer I hadn’t heard before, but I don’t for a minute think this one is more likely than the others. He’s not sure what he’s doing beyond the final Black Sabbath tour, regardless of what he says.
This interview may require a little attentive listening. I was told Ozzy can be hard to understand, though I got most of this in real time. Maybe it’s the company I keep.