John Michael “Ozzy” Osbourne, aka “The Prince of Darkness,” is an English heavy metal/hard rock singer and the founding frontman of Black Sabbath — the most influential heavy metal band of all-time.
Alongside guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler, and drummer Bill Ward, Ozzy would help forge the foundations of the genre with a string of legendary albums beginning with Black Sabbath’s 1970 self-titled debut. The eponymous track is widely considered the first heavy metal song, with its dark atmosphere and ominous central riff laying down the template for generations of heavy metal to come.
Ozzy’s imitable vocal delivery and charismatic, jubilant stage presence would become synonymous with Black Sabbath’s music and live performances. He would remain in the band through its heyday, singing on classic albums such as Paranoid (1970), Master of Reality (1971), Vol. 4 (1972), Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973), Sabotage (1975), and more.
In 1979, Ozzy would exit Black Sabbath to pursue an equally successful solo career. 1980 would see the release of his solo debut, Blizzard of Ozz, which featured enduring hits such as “Crazy Train” and “Mr. Crowley.” The album would also introduce the world to the dazzling guitar virtuoso Randy Rhoads, who would become Ozzy’s right-hand man as he launched his solo career. The two would collaborate on a follow-up album, 1981’s Diary of a Madman, before Rhoads tragically died in a plane crash in March of 1982.
Though the pain of Randy’s loss would linger, Ozzy trudged onward, enlisting another lightning-fast axeman Jake E. Lee for his next two records — 1983’s Bark at the Moon and 1986’s The Ultimate Sin — notching hits with the former’s title track and the latter’s radio-friendly single “Shot in the Dark.”
Ozzy’s wild behavior and antics were widely publicized during this era, particularly his frequent drug and alcohol use. Two infamous incidents stand out: one involving pool-side debauchery with Motley Crue, during which Ozzy allegedly snorted a line of ants; and another where the Prince of Darkness bit the head off an actual bat during a live show, mistaking it for a toy prop. The task of reining in the Ozzman would often fall to his wife and manager Sharon. The couple would become inseparable following their marriage in 1982, with Ozzy crediting her with saving his life.
Overcoming his chaotic demeanor in the mid-1980s, Ozzy’s solo career continued to flourish. In 1988, he would release No Rest for the Wicked, which featured a wily guitarist named Zakk Wylde. An altogether different breed of shredder compared to Rhoads and Lee, Wylde would return for the even-more-successful 1991 effort No More Tears. The latter would boast two of Ozzy’s most well-known songs in the title track and the heart-tugging ballad “Mama, I’m Coming Home.”
Although his rate of output would gradually slow throughout the ’90s and 2000s — due in part to the success of his family’s widely seen MTV reality show The Osbournes — Ozzy continued to record and release solo albums. He even reunited with Black Sabbath for the 2013 comeback album 13 and a subsequent farewell tour.
Most recently, Ozzy Osbourne has teamed up with producer Andrew Watt for 2020’s Ordinary Man and 2022’s Patient No. 9, battling and overcoming numerous health issues in the process. Now in his 70s, Ozzy stands as one of the most lovable figures in the world of music as a whole, and he continues to thrive artistically, with Patient No. 9 earning him his first No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Album Sales chart.