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Music

Ozzy Osbourne once denied The Beatles invented heavy metal

Ozzy Osborne is a titan of heavy metal. There are many reasons why he is hailed as ‘The Prince of Darkness’, and one of the finest frontmen of all time. Over his long career, he has consistently affirmed himself as the master of metal, unfailingly blowing fans away with his hellish form of vocal delivery and larger-than-life personality. 

The Birmingham native first made his name in the band that is lauded as the first heavy metal act, Black Sabbath. Alongside guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler, and drummer Bill Ward, he created a thunderous racket that was carried by an ominous pulse, unlike anything anyone had ever heard before. After they burst onto the scene in 1970, life was never to be the same again.

It was much darker than the work that the hippie-oriented rock acts of the day were releasing, and its darkness was much thicker than the occult-oriented tracks that had come before, such as Iron Butterfly’s sprawling proto-metal cut ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’. 

In addition to this proclivity for the sinister, Sabbath’s work was also some of the most stoned out there, paving the way for a host of some of our favourite acts, ranging from Type O Negative to Sleep, with their work remaining as refreshing as it was at the time of release. Whether it be Black SabbathParanoidMaster of Reality, or Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, the original incarnation of the West Midlands band delivered many scintillating moments, with Osbourne’s primal wail the cherry on the cake.

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After Sabbath, Ozzy enjoyed a fruitful solo career, and his short period of collaboration with American guitar hero Randy Rhodes, which was halted by his tragic death, produced some of heavy metal’s other most cherished pieces. His debut solo album, 1980’s Blizzard of Ozzfeatured cuts such as ‘Crazy Train’ and ‘Suicide Solution’, confirming that he was going nowhere after being fired from Sabbath and that there was plenty more fuel in the tank. 

Outside of music, Osbourne’s hellraising antics are well-known. From biting the head off a live bat whilst performing on stage, which cemented his status as ‘The Prince of Darkness’, to relieving himself on Texas’ most-treasured site, The Alamo, Osbourne’s career has seen him get up to many insane antics that are expected of a God of metal.

Given that he is so inextricably linked to the genre of metal, Osbourne is identified as one of the most well-informed scholars on its proliferation. When speaking to GQ in 2020, he was asked his thoughts on one of metal’s most divisive takes, that The Beatles’ rumbling 1968 track ‘Helter Skelter’ was the first ever heavy metal song.

Despite being a lifelong fan of The Beatles, Osbourne did not agree with the postulation, and instead turned his attention to some of the Liverpool band’s contemporaries when looking for the progenitors of heavy metal. Dismissing the claim that ‘Helter Skelter’ is heavy metal, Osbourne also claimed that he wouldn’t even class his own work as such.

He said: “Nah. It’s not heavy. It’s just a fast song about a helter-skelter. Maybe you could say ‘You Really Got Me’ by The Kinks or a song by The Who. But I don’t even consider myself as heavy metal. I did a few heavy things but I’ve done melodic things too, ballady things.”

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