Ozzy Osbourne -- (born December 3, 1948, as John Michael Osbourne, in Aston, Birmingham, England) is a legendary singer/songwriter whose career and family popularized heavy metal and "celeb-reality" TV shows, respectively. Additionally, he has appeared in numerous commercials, movies, TV shows, as well as collaborating with various other musicians on countless projects. On January 25, 2010, he released an autobiography titled I Am Ozzy.
Ozzy Osbourne was raised in abject poverty in Birmingham. He was the third of five children. After completing school (in which he excelled more at troublemaking than any scholastic achievements), he took a few factory jobs at various places. The only job he enjoyed was at a slaughterhouse. He also worked as a part-time musician, but his bookings were low-paying gigs that went nowhere (although he forged a good friendship with Geezer Butler during this time). Eventually, he was found by Tony Iommi (whom he had known in school) who was in search of a singer and they had come across an ad stating "Ozzy Zigg Needs a Gig" (an outdated sign that Ozzy had already asked the music store to remove). Together, the band gained limited recognition as "Earth" before renaming themselves "Black Sabbath" and (after Iommi returned to Sabbath after a week with Jethro Tull) things started happening for them.
Ozzy Osbourne first gained real exposure as the lead singer of Black Sabbath. Named after the 1963 Boris Karloff horror film, Black Sabbath kicked off the 1970s by releasing "Evil Woman" in January 1970 before the release of their self-titled album on February 13, 1970, in the United Kingdom, followed by a May release in the United States. Their second album War Pigs was released in October 1970 in the United Kingdom on the heels of the success of "Paranoid," their only top ten hit, and in January 1971 in the United States on the heels of the success of "Iron Man."
Their third album Master of Reality, featuring "Sweet Leaf," was released in July 1971 in both the UK and US, which led to a world-wide tour and a much-deserved break in 1972. Their fourth album, aptly titled Volume 4 was released in September 1972, followed by another world-wide tour. The band received its first critical acclaim with the release of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath in November 1973, and Sabotage in July 1975. In September 1976, Technical Ecstasy broke their hot streak with mixed reviews (the album was not certified gold until 1997). Ozzy Osbourne quit the band in November 1977, only to rejoin in January 1978, but things were never the same. Never Say Die! was released in September 1978, but the band became "tired & uninspired" according to reviews of their live performances. In 1979, Ozzy was fired from Black Sabbath largely for unreliability due to substance abuse. All the members in the band did drugs, but Ozzy did them to a much greater extent than other members of the band. The band continued releasing new albums, usually with Ronny James Dio on vocals.
In a January 2010 article on CNN.com, Ozzy Osbourne summarized his time with Black Sabbath, "we were just four kids from Aston in Birmingham who had a good idea and it worked out fine." Although, he also noted the dangers of his lifestyle, "(the drugs) nearly killed me on a daily basis -- I did a lot of heavy drug taking for a long time and I survived it by the grace of God." Osbourne notes having no resentment towards the band in his book, citing only that he wished they had called themselves "New Black Sabbath" or "Black Sabbath 2" after he left. In the early years of Ozzfest, Osbourne reunited with Black Sabbath to headline several dates.
After fronting Black Sabbath for a decade, Ozzy Osbourne turned over a new (sweet) leaf in his career for the next decade. He released Blizzard of Ozz in September 1980 and Diary of a Madman in November 1981. His personal antics soon surpassed his music after he allegedly bit the head off a live dove in 1981 in Los Angeles, during a meeting with horrified record-company executives. In case there were ever any doubt about this legend, Ozzy gained further notoriety on January 20, 1982, when he bit the head off a bat in Des Moines, Iowa. While there is a dispute whether the bat was alive at the time, there was no question when Ozzy was banned from the city of San Antonio for 10 years the following month after he urinated on a public fixture at the Alamo. One month later, though, things turned tragic when his guitarist Randy Rhoads was killed in a spontaneous plane ride in the morning hours of March 19, 1982. Rhoads had a fear of flying, but the pilot had agreed to do nothing risky because the band's seamstress who was also a passenger had a heart condition.
For better or worse, Ozzy Osbourne continued his solo career with the December 1983 release of Bark at the Moon, the 1986 release of The Ultimate Sin, and the 1988 release of No Rest for the Wicked. The highest-domestic charting single came in 1989 from his duet with Lita Ford, "Close My Eyes Forever," which reached #8 on the Billboard 200.
After contemplating retirement, Ozzy Osbourne released 1991's No More Tears, 1995's Ozzmosis, and 2001's Down to Earth before his family took center stage. After the conclusion of "The Osbournes," Ozzy released two more albums (2005's Under Cover and 2007's Black Rain) and he has told USA Today that he plans to release two more albums before retiring altogether
On March 5, 2002, Ozzy appeared on an MTV reality TV show entitled "The Osbournes," which showed the real-life events of Ozzy, his wife Sharon, his son Jack, and his daughter Kelly. In its first season, the show boasted that it was highest ratings in MTV history. The program ran for over three years and it even won the 2002 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality Program. Through its success, it launched the category of "celeb-reality" programming, even though the term was not coined until years later.
Although the couple's eldest daughter Aimee Rachel Osbourne opted to not participate in the program, she appeared on MTV's 2003 movie "Wuthering Heights." Currently, she writes for Nylon, a pop culture magazine.
On March 31, 2009, the Osbournes returned to television with a variety show for the Fox Broadcasting network, titled "Osbournes: Reloaded." The show was canceled after one episode. Since that time, Sharon Osbourne has continued her work in the entertainment business while Ozzy Osbourne is content staying as far away from television as he can (although, he notes that he enjoys the occassional commercial here and there).