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Music

The many near death experiences of Ozzy Osbourne

@TomTaylorFO

Ozzy Osbourne is a self-described medical oddity. His life is the textbook definition of what Hunter S. Thompson was talking about when he wrote: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!’”

Ozzy Osbourne’s ride has been as wild as any. It would seem that each scrape, scrap and brush with the dark side has left him with thicker skin. He might be the prince of darkness, but if anyone should be believing in guardian angels it’s him, or perhaps his former Black Sabbath bandmate Bill Ward who was almost murdered by in-band pranks countless times. 

Below we have chronicled some of the most hair-raising moments in the utterly mad life of the bat beheader himself—and even that incident could’ve caused rabies. Thankfully, the proto-metal pioneer and all-around hoot has always lived to tell the tale, and long may that continue. All hail the Prince of Darkness. 

Ozzy Osbourne’s near death experiences:

The Quad Bike Incident 

Who the hell let Ozzy get behind the wheel of a Quad Bike? He wouldn’t be trusted behind the wheel of a Little Tikes let alone the notorious four-wheeled folly of millionaires. The problem for Ozzy was that during filming, the onrushing air caused his hands to become numb with the cold and soon he ended up toppling the quad bike on top of himself, and he isn’t what you’d call the most robust, but like an old car, perhaps all the creaks and cracks gave him the necessary plasticity to power on.

“I’ll never forget this trip,” he said about his return to England, “I nearly killed myself. I feel like I’ve been chopped in the neck by fucking Bruce Lee. I’m going home with eight broken ribs, a broken neck, a smashed collar bone. But it was alright, I’ll come back again.”

The Dave Lee Roth Cocaine Duel

In November 1978, Black Sabbath and Van Halen were two of the biggest rock bands on the planet. Thus, naturally, given the era, they were also two of the biggest consumers of illicit substances in human history. When that notion becomes a battle, danger is afoot faster than the race track rabbit. 

One night while Van Halen were opening for Black Sabbath in Alabama, the duel they engaged in seemed to have the simple and utterly stupid premise of, ‘Let’s see who can snort the most coke without dying’. The quantity is said to have been enough to supply an entire month’s worth of parties with the greatest emoters in Hollywood. 

Roth loses at 9 am the next morning when he passes out. The tour bus rolls on to Nashville, but when they arrive they discover that Ozzy is missing. The police are called to look for him. At certain points during the unsuccessful search, Ozzy was simply presumed dead. However, a few hours later a groggy figure staggered into the lobby of the hotel room and he was greeted with chants of “Ozzy’s alive.” 

Ozzy would soon find himself fired from Black Sabbath after these highwire acts got in the way of work. Such is the oddity of rock ‘n’ quite often the engines of income in a multi-million corporation are some of the least reliable people on the planet.

The Diary of a Madman Breakdown

During his highwire heyday, Ozzy was prone to substance abuse at the best of times. In fact, the star even once said that he had basically been on a “40 year bender” so when his first marriage to Thelma Riley started to break down around the time of his Diary of a Madman tour, he went even further off the rails. Sharon soon became his manager and pulled him around, but not before he suffered a nervous breakdown and was admitted to a mental hospital in London. 

As Ozzy’s bassist at the time Rudy Sarzo commented about visiting him: “We’d walk in the room and he’d be so happy to see us. He’d cry and laugh, cry and laugh, back and forth. Total mood swings. Then he finally got released. The doctor told Sharon there was nothing they could do for him.”

The Deadly Manicure

Ozzy’s body has suffered so much abuse that back in 2018, it almost revolted against some simple TLC. While treating himself to a manicure to keep up his rock ‘n’ roll appearance, a small cut on his finger eventually got infected and his thumb swelled to “the size of a fucking light bulb.” 

The bat beheading frontman was subsequently rushed to hospital where he underwent minor surgery. “I was in hospital for a couple of days and had emergency surgery and I remember waking up in the morning and Sharon said, ‘What the f*ck have you done to your hand?’” The poor fellow had just been getting his nails done.