In many people’s eyes, Ozzy Osbourne begins when The Beatles end. When ‘The Fab Four’ became the great soloists in the spring of 1970, Black Sabbath had already begun to usher the flower power colours of the sixties towards darker shades with their debut single ‘Evil Woman’ released earlier that year. However, as ‘The Prince of Darkness’ would tell you, he really begins when The Beatles burst the kaleidoscope of their oeuvre into brilliance.
It is a mark of their impact that over the course of their brief tenure, they inspired the musicians of the future, then encouraged them to scurry off in their own direction. Ozzy was one of those youthful fans dragged up by the bootstraps into a new bohemian world. As he once proudly proclaimed, “When I heard the Beatles. I knew what I wanted to do,” when speaking to Blabbermouth in 2019.
Enthusiastically adding: “My son says to me, Dad, I like the Beatles, but why do you go so crazy? The only way I can describe it, is like this, ‘Imagine you go to bed today, and the world is black and white and then you wake up, and everything’s in colour. That’s what it was like!’ That’s the profound effect it had on me.”
Other bands and artists would naturally enter the fore for Ozzy and his Black Sabbath bandmates, with the likes of The Kinks steering heavier sounds into the mix and even the dark world of Gustav Holst’s classical pieces proved influential. As Geezer Butler once explained: “I was a medium-sized fan of Holst and particularly ‘Mars’. One day we were trying to play ‘Mars’ and that’s how ‘Black Sabbath’ came about.”
However, the Promethean force of The Beatles would never be forgotten, and, in part, it helped to establish the songwiritng sensibilities that many Sabbath imitators would lack. “I feel so privileged to have been on this planet when the Beatles were born,” Ozzy once told Rolling Stone. “They are and will forever be the greatest band in the world. I remember talking to Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols. He said, ‘I didn’t like the Beatles.’ I said, ‘there’s something fucking wrong with you.’”
Needless to say, Ozzy, like many of us, is quick to defend his first musical love. As Alex Turner once said: “There is always that one band that comes along when you are 14 or 15-years-old that managed to hit you in just the right way and changes your whole perception on things.” The wallop that The Beatles first dealt in the most perfunctory sense is also still the colour changing track that his remained with him the longest.
Ozzy’s favourite Beatles track ‘She Loves You’ is the first one he remembers hearing. As he explains: “This is the one that sucked me in. I was a 14-year-old kid with this blue transistor radio. I heard ‘She Loves You,’ and it floored me. It was as if you knew all the colours in the world. Then someone shows you a brand new colour, and you go, ‘F–king hell, man.’”
Many people are no doubt in the same boat as ‘The Prince of Darkness’ on this one and agree with the Brummy legend when he declares: “I feel so privileged to have been on this planet when the Beatles were born.”