Ozzy Osbourne has rightfully garnered a reputation as one of the most frightening men in music. Still, when he’s not chewing the head of a bat, the Black Sabbath frontman can be found relaxing to the backdrop of melancholy sounds, and one singer-songwriter holds a special place in his heart.
Black Sabbath played an essential role in defining heavy metal. However, there was always an extra layer to their work unbeknown to many due to Osbourne’s somewhat caricatured image. His wild antics helped make him the face of everything debauched, but even Osbourne occasionally needed to enjoy the quieter side of life.
Famously, his reality television programme showcased the musician in a different light and humanised Osbourne. His record collection is also an eye-opener and helps demask another dimension of the man underneath ‘The Prince of Darkness’ persona.
The Beatles are a band that have always had a special place in his heart from the day their hypnotic melodies propagandised him as a child. “I remember it like it was yesterday,” Osbourne once said about his first time hearing the group. “I was walking around with a transistor radio on my shoulder. And ‘She Loves You ‘came on. And I don’t know, it just went, ‘Bang! And that’s what I want to do! Wouldn’t it be great?'”.
That represented Osbourne’s gateway into a lifetime of love for The Beatles, yet, there’s one solo album from a band member which he adores to a greater degree than anything they produced during their reign of dominance. John Lennon’s sophomore masterpiece, Imagine, is the record that takes that coveted prize.
“I must have played this album thousands of times over the years,” Osbourne told Forbes. “The songs (‘Imagine,’ ‘Jealous Guy,’ ‘Gimme Some Truth’) are just timeless, which is the sign of what a great songwriter John Lennon was. Lennon was a poet, a rebel and had an incredible passion, all of which are so evident on this landmark album. I cannot believe that we will be celebrating its 50th anniversary next year.”
Furthermore, on another occasion, Osbourne praised Lennon for being a “driving force for humanity”. Talking about the moment he found out about his death, Ozzy heartbreakingly said, “The world stopped for me. I can’t even describe how I felt. But the amount of joy and hope that he gave people was just remarkable.”
Osbourne’s love of Imagine shows that even the depraved face of heavy metal from time to time enjoys getting zen. If you ever wondered what it’d be like to hear him take on a track from the album, then don’t fret anymore and dive into his surprisingly poignant cover of ‘How’.