Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath were at the forefront of ushering in a brand new sound when the four rowdy lads from Birmingham tore it up on their self-titled debut album in 1970. The next few years saw them take their own brand of heavy metal around the world, all while enjoying the debauched journey that came with it. 50 years on from the release of Sabbath’s debut, Ozzy is still flying high as one of the forefathers of heavy metal and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Black Sabbath were pioneers in every sense, the Brummies were unlike anything that came before them and rapidly became heroes for a generation of kids who would do their best to replicate their anarchic sound. What made Sabbath so sumptuous was that the band was never just the Ozzy Osbourne show, all four members of the group brought their own individual ingredients to the party which created unmatched headbanging anthems.
The band’s primary songwriter was guitar wizard Tony Iommi, a creation who was firmly the brains behind the majority of Black Sabbath’s music. While Osbourne would write vocal melodies and bassist Geezer Butler would chip in with lyrics, the band hung on Iommi’s distinct sound. The process was sometimes a frustrating one for Iommi who has spoken in the past about how he felt the pressure of constantly creating new material: “If I didn’t come up with anything, nobody would do anything,” he famously commented.
On Iommi’s influence, Osbourne is later on record as stating: “Black Sabbath never used to write a structured song. There’d be a long intro that would go into a jazz piece, then go all folky… and it worked. Tony Iommi—and I have said this a zillion times—should be up there with the greats. He can pick up a guitar, play a riff, and you say, ‘He’s gotta be out now, he can’t top that’. Then you come back, and I bet you a billion dollars, he’d come up with a riff that’d knock your fucking socks off.”
Iommi is the person to thank the most for the creation of heavy metal but Osbourne played a pivotal role with his energetic performances making Black Sabbath the most exciting group to watch perform throughout the 1970s. Whenever Sabbath tried to do it without Osbourne, it was never anywhere near the same without the prodigal ringleader of the troupe who is truly irreplaceable and converted countless amounts of folk into the devilish church of heavy metal.
Considering Osbourne’s position at the top of the pile, it provides a weight to the list that he provided to Rolling Stone in 2017 about his 10 favourite heavy metal records of all time. His is an opinion which can be weighed up against anybody in the music world.
One admission by the Black Sabbath man is Led Zeppelin’s faultless effort Led Zeppelin IV, which just has that special something about it that makes it Ozzy’s favourite from the riotous foursome. He commented: “I’ve always been a huge Led Zeppelin fan. All of their studio albums are classics but this is one of my all-time favourites.”
If Osbourne had excluded a record from Judas Priest on the list then his safety would have been in doubt when he next returned home to his, and Priest’s, native Birmingham and, with his security at threat, he put his Brummie brothers’ British Steel album on the list. “What can I say, the guys in Judas Priest are not only mates of mine from my hometown of Birmingham, but one of the best metal bands of all time. This album had ‘Living After Midnight,’ ‘Breaking the Law’ and ‘Metal Gods’. British Steel is a classic that will definitely stand the test of time,” Osbourne praisingly noted.
Any list of the greatest heavy metal albums wouldn’t be complete without at least one by Metallica and Ozzy’s is no exception with Master of Puppets getting a nod. “I took Metallica on tour with me after the release of Master of Puppets,” Osbourne recalled. “The album was a milestone for the band and for heavy metal.”
Ozzy also finds room on the lust for acts like the iconic Motörhead, the rambunctious Guns ‘N’ Roses, metal heroes Megadeth and more. It makes for not only an education on the essential heavy metal record according to the genre’s very forefather. but also a fearsome playlist to boot. We’ve got the full list of Ozzy Osbourne’s favourite heavy metal albums of all time alongside a cracking playlist.
Ozzy Osbourne’s 10 favourite heavy metal albums
- AC/DC – Highway To Hell
- Alice In Chains – Facelift
- Guns ‘N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction
- Judas Priest – British Steel
- Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV
- Megadeth – Rust in Peace
- Metallica – Master of Puppets
- Motörhead – Ace of Spades
- Pantera – Cowboys From Hell
- Rob Zombie – Hellbilly Deluxe