Never before in Voodoo Experience history have two English bands taken top bill on the main stage. This year, the closing performance on Friday and Saturday are reserved for Muse, and the Godfather of heavy metal, Ozzy Osbourne- both revered for their live performances.
This will be the first New Orleans performance for the Prince of Darkness in nearly a decade. After more than forty years of gigging around the world, Osbourne, 61, says he still gets a thrill unlike any other when in front of a crowd.
“When everything is in its right place and it’s going well… and the craziness… there’s nothing in the world to come anywhere near. Love, sex, drugs, there’s nothing that can touch it,” Osbourne said regarding touring. “At the other end of the spectrum, when it’s going bad, there’s nothing worse.”
Regarding indulgences- i.e. sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll- Ozzy knows best. His music legacy blends seamlessly with his epic drug abuse. The tales of decadence even peeked the curiosity of scientists. In June 2010, it was revealed that Osbourne’s genetic code was the focus of a Cambridge, Mass. Company called Knome. They included Ozzy in a study that attempts to find a link between extreme stories of survival and genetic coding.
“Maybe we will find a new variant in a gene that’s expressed in Ozzy’s liver, and that gene may already be implicated in detoxifying some class of drugs.” Nathan Pearson, director of research at Knome, said in an article released by the Chicago Tribune on July 1, 2010. “Finding that may not be a smoking gun in figuring out what makes Ozzy tick, but it might be something that a scientist can follow up on.”
Fans have certainly taken their own crack for years at figuring out what makes the former Black Sabbath frontman ticket. Fortunately, he’s never been shy to the public with his less than private life.
“I’m one of these guys that takes risks and the respect of telling the truth and it’s okay.” Ozzy said when discussing the revealing nature of his recent biography, Ozzy. “There’s a lot of interesting stuff about me in there, but thinking about doing another book to follow it up.”
From the MTV reality show that launched in May 2002, to his recent free iPhone app, Ozzy has managed to keep his fans informed. Now, he’s taken to the road to give them a new album, Scream, which is his tenth studio album as a solo artist. It was released on June 22, 2010.
Unlike the Ozzy of old, his days working on the new songs were spent clean and sober. Some wondered how this would affect his ability to make music. It was a fear even Ozzy admitted.
“When I first started to get sober, I thought, ‘well how can I enjoy music without drugs or alcohol in my system?’” Ozzy revealed when asked how sobriety affected his creative process. “But I just don’t want to do it stoned or loaded today.”
His sobriety has been as issue for the past decade. For years, his tremors were associated with habitual drinking, and former drug abuse. In 2005, while sober, the cause was revealed as Parkinson’s Disease.
Physically, Ozzy is in good standing and has not had to miss a single show yet on his current 18-month world tour.
“I’ve just done some shows in England and Europe,” he said. “I’ve got a new band now… it was a lot of fun to play with these guys.”
Including Ozzy, the current roster of musicians who keep the tour churning as Gus G (guitar), Rob “Blasko” Nicholson (bass), Adam Wakeman (keyboards, backing guitar), and Tommy Clufesto (drums, percussion).
With each new addition came a new musical layer. Ozzy explained that the new members equated to an entirely new band.
“It was an experimental album, which is okay,” he said when asked how Scream is different. “It turned out better than I expected it to.”
He then went on to say that once he’s finished with an album, he quickly moves on to the one to follow. However, one album in particular would round out his entire career.
“To be honest with you, I would love to do a killer Black Sabbath album,” he declared. “It would make my life.”
This year marks the 40 year anniversary the album Paranoid, which was Black Sabbath’s second studio album release, but has been long revered as the greatest heavy metal record.
History making record aside, the band experienced a turbulent history and an ever changing cast of musicians. In total, twenty-two musicians claim a spot with the band on their resume, holding only Ozzy and Tony Iommi (guitar) as consistent members. Eventually, they too came to blows.
“It’s closure… as far as I’m concerned. We broke up on bad terms” Ozzy said when describing his desire to release another Black Sabbath record. “If it did come together, it’d be great, but I’m not saying it will or it won’t.”
One major issue delaying the possibility was a trademark lawsuit between Ozzy and Tony.
“It is with great regret that I had to resort to legal action against my long term partner, Tony Iommi (touring under the name Black Sabbath) was reduced to performing in clubs. Since 1997 when Geezer, Bill and myself rejoined the band, Black Sabbath has returned to its former glory as we headlined sold-out arenas and amphitheaters playing to upwards of 50,000 people at each show around the world. We worked collectively to restore credibility and bring dignity back to the name ‘Black Sabbath’ which lead to the band being inducted into the UK and US Rock & Roll Hall of Fames in 2005 and 2006, respectively.”
In May 2009, Osbourne filed suit against Iommi accusing him of falsely claiming sole ownership over the Black Sabbath moniker.
“The name ‘Black Sabbath’ now has worldwide prestige and merchandising value that it would not have had by continuing on the road it was on prior to the 1997 reunion tour,” he continued in the release. “I don’t have the right to speak for Geezer and Bill, but I feel that morally and ethically the trademark should be owned by the four of us equally.”
After more than a year of legal battles, the dispute was resolved this past summer just before Ozzy hit the road for his new tour.
“We’re not at war with each other,” Ozzy explained. “…everybody’s friendly again.”
“I can’t give any dates cause I don’t know anything,” he summarized. “I don’t know whether they want to do it with me or whatever, but I’m starting to feel ease up for it.”
Until that reunion comes, Ozzy clings to yet another music dream.
“I’ve never had, believe it or not, a number one record in the United States, ever, even with Black Sabbath,” he admitted. “That’s about the only thing I have left to achieve, but I just want to continue. I’d like to get a fictitious band name and do something completely different than heavy music, you know.”
No matter the direction, there’s no doubt about Ozzy’s future in the music business.
“I was talking to a musician friend of mine recently and… now the business has changed so much,” he said when describing why he thinks he’s maintained longevity in the industry. “It’s just a different world, but… I wonder who’s going to have longevity in the future. So I suppose I could be one of the last of the dying breed I suppose.
“I’ve had a lot of fun over the years,” he concluded. “A lot of fun with it.”