Ozzy Osbourne talks Black Sabbath, success, Satanism, and why his 'farewell tour' isn't

Ozzy Osbourne is ticked off that people think he’s set to retire after his ongoing farewell tour, although that’s not the precise terminology he would use.

The source of his ticked off-ness stems from such recent headlines as “Ozzy Osbourne To Celebrate Five Decades Of Performing With Farewell World Tour That Will Last Into 2020” and “Ozzy Adds an Additional Date to Farewell World Tour.” Never mind that those are headlines for news announcements that appear on his own website.

“This is not a retirement tour!” barked Osbourne, whose ongoing “No More Tours 2” is the sequel to his 1992 “No More Tours” farewell trek. It was followed in 1995 by his “Retirement Sucks Tour” and a series of other globe-trotting concert treks since then.

“I should have called this the ‘No More World Tours Tour,” continued the British-born, Beverly Hills-based rock legend.

“In the future, I’ll got out on the road and tour only in Europe, or only in South America, or only in North America. All I’m going to be doing differently is not doing world tours, and not going out on the road in January and not coming back until December. I have a family. I’m slowing down, but I’m not retiring. I’m (expletive) 70!”

In fact, Osbourne won’t turn 70 until Dec. 3, but who’s counting?

Speaking from Pennsylvania, where he was rehearsing last month with his band, Osbourne was in an alternately reflective and playful mood as he discussed a variety of topics.

They ranged from the recent extramarital affair that nearly ended his marriage to his insistence to never again reunite with Black Sabbath, the pioneering heavy-metal band with which he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. “It’s over — no more,” he said.

Osbourne’s Oct. 6 concert at Shoreline Amphitheatre, near San Jose, was postponed earlier the same day after an infection required him to undergo hand surgery at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles.

According to a press release from Osbourne’s longtime spokesperson, he will “remain under doctor's care as they monitor the infection.” His Oct. 6 Shoreline show has been re-scheduled for Oct. 16. His Oct. 11 Hollywood Bowl concert and Oct. 13 concert at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas are expected to go on as scheduled. His tour “is expected to resume on Tuesday, October 9, at Mattress Firm Amphitheatre in Chula Vista.”

Here are excerpts from our interview with Osbourne

Q: What’s happening with your musical about Rasputin, Russia’s notorious “Mad Monk,” which you’ve been working on since at least 2007?

A: Well, what happened was that — when we finished doing the writing — no Wall Street (investors) wanted to put any money into it. And it takes a few million to get a musical off the ground. I still have it, but it’s not being used.

Q: When (guitarist) Tony Iommi left your pre-Black Sabbath band, Earth, to briefly join Jethro Tull in late 1968, were you ready to quit, or did you did you replace him?

A: It broke my heart, because Earth was a great band — and I’d never done anything in my life. Tony was a risk-taker. There’s not a man on the face of the earth like him.

Q: How is he doing in his battle against lymphoma?

A: I just spoke to him. He’s doing great.

Q: Like The Beatles before you, Earth played a residency at the Star Club in Hamburg. What was that like?

A: It was fun. You’d get loaded and do what young kids do.

Q: It was also a lot of work, wasn’t it?

A: Yeah. We were doing six 45-minute sets, alternating with another band. On the weekends, we’d play from 11 in the morning and finish at 3 the next morning. It made us a tighter band. When Black Sabbath got on stage in America … we’d blow other bands off the (expletive) stage! Our goal was to come to the U.S. We never looked back.

Q: Were you surprised by how fast success came for Black Sabbath?

A: Absolutely.

Q: Was that success both good and bad?

A: It can’t be bad to make an album that sells 10 million copies.

Q: Didn’t that put a lot of pressure on you to sustain that success?

A: That’s what you want. You can’t moan. The truth is, when I walk down the road and have sold 50 million records, success is a ticket to the front of the line.

Q: Isn’t there a downside?

A: Of course, there’s a downside when people become obsessed with you and follow you everywhere you go. It’s an occupational hazard.

Q: When we spoke in 2007, after you got clean and sober, and started working out religiously, you told me: “I want people to take me seriously.” Has that happened?

A: I don’t know.

Q: Does it matter to you?

A: Custard pie fights — I love all that! — I can’t remember.

Q: Do you listen to music when you work out and, if so, what do you listen to specifically?

A: I watch TV.

Q: What do you watch?

A: News or history, anything, really.

Q: What about your A&E TV travel show with your son, “Ozzy and Jack’s World Tour?”

A: Maybe one or two episodes. It’s been a lot of fun working with my son. It’s better than the other show I did with my family (the MTV reality show “The Osbournes”). When (my daughter) Kelly gets involved, its gets (expletive) crazy.

Q: When we spoke in 2010, you told me: “I know La Jolla. I nearly bought a house there — a brand new estate — many years ago, but it was too far away. Mind you, my wife finds another house she wants to buy every other week. How many do we have? Seven.” When you do retire, might you consider moving to La Jolla?

A: You know, I don’t really think so. We just bought a new house in L.A. There are some (expletive) great houses in La Jolla. But the (music) business is in L.A. and you don’t want to have to drive there every morning.

Q: Who was a better next-door neighbor, and why? Pat Boone or Meat Loaf?

A: Pat Boone has been around longer than any of us. Meat Loaf didn’t live in the house; he bought it as an investment.

Q: Did you in any way inspire Pat Boone to make his 1997 big band heavy metal album, “In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy,” which included a version of your song, “Crazy Train?”

A: I don’t know. I never heard it.

Q: What are the most important lessons you have learned?

A: To try and be a better person. I’m 70. To me, life is a learning process. … I love my work. It took me making a few stupid decisions to realize how important my work is. You learn more from your bad things than your good things.

Q: What would you like to have a do-over on?

A: I wouldn’t have messed around with other women. It wasn’t that many, but I fell into that trap for about a month. Sometimes, you do something absolutely (expletive) stupid and it makes you realize you’re going to lose. And, sometimes, you do lose it. My wife did forgive me and we’re getting on better than we ever have. I love my wife. It took something (awful) that I did. I’m not suggesting anybody do it, but it happened to me. It’s very disrespectful (to your spouse).

Q: Are you a fan of Burt Bacharach?

A: I admire him.

Q: I interviewed Burt recently. He just released a new record and did his most recent concert tour of Europe this summer. He is 90, you are 69. He has no plans to retire. What do you see yourself doing when you are 90?

A: I’ve always said this that if I do a show and it’s only three people and a drunk in the audience, then you back off and you retire. Until then, if people want to hear me, I’ll play to them.

Q: Black Sabbath’s reunion tour stretched from 2012 to 2014. Will there be another?

A: No, no. It’s done.

Q: Why?

A: It’s over — no more.

Q: And you’re good with that?

A: Absolutely.

Q: Because?

A: It’s done.

Q: There are several of your songs, including “War Pigs” and “Crazy Train,” whose lyrics – sadly – are just as timely today as when they were written decades ago. Does it depress you when you sing them to know things have only gotten worse?

A: It just goes to show how stupid war is and how destructive mankind is. I sing and write these songs, but I’m not a war-monger. If I’m talking to you, and you don’t like me, and I kill you, what’s the point of that? Why are we enemies? If I’m dead and you’re dead, it’s a (expletive) game.

Q: What did you tell people who thought Black Sabbath was a band of Satanists?

A: Well, I never talk religion. I don’t understand organized religion. But I strive to be good, although it feels good to be bad, sometimes. I’m not bad, like, evil bad. I’m bad, in that I’m a naughty boy. I’m not a guy that worships the (expletive) devil. When Black Sabbath started, we got invited to an (expletive) graveyard at midnight. We told them: “Our (dark) image is a joke.”

Q: Did you go to the graveyard?

A: No, we did not go.

Ozzy Osbourne, with Stone Sour

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Mattress Firm Amphitheatre, 2050 Entertainment Circle, Chula Vista

Tickets: $15-$99.50; $45 for four-pack of lawn tickets, plus service charges

Phone: (800) 745-3000

Online: livenation.com

george.varga@sduniontribune.com

Twitter @georgevarga


UPDATES:

3:40 p.m.: This article was updated to include information about an infection that required Ozzy Osbourne to undergo hand surgery at Cedars-Sinai hospital on Oct. 6 and led to the postponement of his Oct. 6 concert at Shoreline Amphitheatre near San Jose.

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