Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne joined Rick Rubin for the latest episode of Rubin’s Broken Record podcast. Ozzy fired off anecdotes about Sabbath’s early hustle, the band’s drug and alcohol fuelled separation and recording with Rubin.
The Prince of Darkness will unleash his 12th solo album Ordinary Man later this month. He sat down with old friend Rick Rubin to analyse a number of the album’s tracks, which feature contributions from Elton John, Guns N’ Roses’ Duff McKagan and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith.
Listen: Ozzy Osbourne – Ordinary Man feat. Elton John
But Rubin started the interview by asking Ozzy about his earliest performances and the foundations of Black Sabbath.
“I was in a band The Prospectors because the singer was sick,” said Osbourne of his first onstage memory. “We did a gig at Birmingham Fire Station. There was three fireman and a drunk in the audience. I was so nervous.”
The Black Sabbath origin story is well known, but Ozzy wasn’t hesitant to share it once more. “I was in a band with Geezer [Butler, bass] called Rare Breed,” he said. “I used to go to the same school as Tony [Iommi, guitar] but we didn’t get on at school. We originally had a saxophone player and a bottleneck guitar player.”
The original incarnation of Fleetwood Mac was a big influence. “We used to go and see them, we’d go see John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.”
The Sabbath members had a proactive method for scoring gigs in the early days. “We used to go to [clubs in Birmingham] with our van full of equipment just in case the band never made it. We’d stand in for Ten Years After, Jethro Tull and a few other bands.”
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Watch: Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
Ozzy also talked about getting booted out of Sabbath in 1979. “The booze started to get heavy. I started to drink more and Bill [Ward, drums] started to drink more,” he said. “When they fired me … they said, ‘We don’t want you to be [the singer] because you’re fucked up all the time.’ I’ve got to be honest, at that point I just said, ‘I’m done.'”
Rubin produced Sabbath’s 2013 album 13. It was Ozzy’s first album with the band since 1978’s Never Say Die! It turns out the idea of Rubin producing an Ozzy/Sabbath reunion had been floating around for a couple of decades.
“You came to my house late one night after the Rainbow and we listened to Black Sabbath music until the sun came up,” said Rubin. “And you performed a whole Black Sabbath performance for me in my living room and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life.”
“I remember you going, ‘listen, you’ve got to make me a promise. If you ever get back with the boys, please let me produce an album,'” said Ozzy through fits of laughter.
Watch: Black Sabbath – End of the Beginning
Ozzy and Sharon recently appeared on Good Morning America to reveal he’s suffering from a “mild form” of Parkinson’s disease. However, he’s due to jump back onstage in May for an extensive North American tour.