“Ozzy Osbourne: Crown Prince of Darkness”: The bat-biting heavy metal hero was born to be wild

By on December 4, 2017

Put another candle on the birthday cake for the reigning “Crown Prince of Darkness,” John Michael “Ozzy” Osbourne, born on December 3, 1948, in Birmingham, England, UK.

We here at Night Flight HQ hope you’ll help us celebrate the bat-biting heavy metal hero by watching this 70-minute documentary, Ozzy Osbourne: Crown Prince of Darkness, now streaming on Night Flight Plus!

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Sue Crawford (author of Ozzy Unauthorized, and Sharon Osbourne: Unauthorized, Uncensored – Understood) and Steven Rosen (author of The Story of Black Sabbath: Wheels Of Confusion) — assess Ozzy’s life and career.

Their commentary is supplemented by previously-unseen footage and over forty minutes of additional vintage interviews with the band and others who’ve circled in Ozzy’s orbit.

Read more about Ozzy Osbourne below.

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In his 2009 memoir, I Am Ozzy (co-written with Chris Ayres), Ozzy wrote about whether or not his band Black Sabbath invented “heavy metal”:

“Today you hear people saying that we invented heavy metal with the song ‘Black Sabbath.’ But I’ve always had a bee up my arse about the term ‘heavy metal.’ To me, it doesn’t say anything musically, especially now that you’ve got seventies heavy metal, eighties heavy metal, nineties heavy metal and new-millennium heavy metal — which are all completely different, even though people about them like they’re all the same. In fact, the first time I heard the words ‘heavy’ and ‘metal’ used together was in the lyrics of ‘Born To Be Wild.’ The press latched on to it after that. We certainly didn’t come up with it ourselves. As far as we were concerned, we were just a blues band that had decided to write some scary music. But then, long after we stopped writing scary music, people would still say, ‘Oh, they’re a heavy metal band, so all they must sing about is Satan and the end of the world.’ That’s why I loathe the term.”

Melody Maker critic Chris Charlesworth was probably the first to come up with the term in 1974, as we mentioned here.

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Ozzy writes that he couldn’t believe it when he learned that people actually “practiced the occult,” telling them “Look, mate, the only evil spirits I’m interested in are called whisky, vodka and gin.”

On the road with Black Sabbath in the early 1970s, Ozzy would actually get rid of the band’s satanic followers, camped out in front of his hotel room, by blowing out their candles and singing “Happy Birthday.”

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After leaving Black Sabbath in 1979, Ozzy began a solo career, and his manager/future wife Sharon Osbourne (they married in ’82) began working on his image:

[Sharon] had me out of my grubby old Black Sabbath get-up in a second. ‘When Randy’s [Randy Rhoads, Ozzy’s lead guitarist, who was killed in a plane crash in 1982] mum came over from L.A. she thought you were a roadie,’ she told me. Then she got a hairdresser over to bleach my hair. It was the Eighties — you had to be flamboyant like that. People laugh at it, but when you go to a gig nowadays, you don’t know who’s in the band and who’s in the audience, because they all look the fucking same. At least when somebody got on stage with a big glossy hairdo, they looked special.

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“Mind you, my stage rags so outrageous at one point, people used to think I was a drag queen. I’d wear spandex trousers and long coats studded with rhinestones. Looking back now, I’m not embarrassed by those clothes, but I am embarrassed by how bloated I was. I was a fat, boozy, pizza-eating fuck. You should have seen my face, it was fucking massive. It wasn’t surprising either, given how much Guinness I was putting away on a daily basis. I’m telling you man, one pint of Guinness is like eating three dinners.”

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Sharon Osbourne spent at least part of the Eighties trying to explain why Ozzy was doing such outrageous things, like biting off a dove’s head during a meeting in L.A. with CBS record executives.

In her own memoir, Extreme: My Autobiography, she writes that they needed “something to remember him by,” but after Ozzy bit off the dove’s head and threw it on their conference table, somebody shouted, “Get this animal out of here! Now!” and he was kicked out of the building.

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Then there was the time, on January 20, 1982, when Ozzy bit the head off of a live bat (he thought it was rubber) that was thrown onstage by a fan during a concert in Des Moines, Iowa.

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Oh, and then on February 19, 1982, Ozzy was arrested for peeing on a 60 ft.-high statue, the Cenotaph, at the Alamo Plaza.

Sharon had been hiding his clothes to try to keep him in the hotel room and out of trouble, which is why Ozzy was in drag, wearing one of her frocks, when he was arrested.

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For three years at the beginning of this new century, 2002–2005, many of us watched Ozzy playing the doddering TV “Dad” (always in quotations) on MTV’s reality series “The Osbournes.”

“The Osbournes” — TV Guide called it a cross between “The Simpsons” and Spinal Tap  — let us see what the real Ozzy was really like, off-stage, a true British-born “working class hero.”

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More recently, Ozzy’s announced a farewell solo tour, ending sometime in 2020, although he may not actually be “retiring” any time soon.

That’s good, because it’s hard to imagine the “Crown Prince of Darkness” and our favorite senior citizen dad rocker stepping away from the spotlight for good.

Watch Ozzy Osbourne: Crown Prince of Darkness — and other Black Sabbath & Ozzy-related titles, like our infamous Ozzy interview and our Black Sabbath Video Profile — over on Night Flight Plus!

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.