Monday, July 09, 2007

History of Hard Rock/Heavy Metal: Ozzy Osbourne

Though many bands have succeeded in earning the hatred of parents and media worldwide throughout the past few decades, arguably only such acts as Alice Cooper, Judas Priest, and Marilyn Manson have tied the controversial record of Ozzy Osbourne.

The former Black Sabbath frontman has been ridiculed over his career, mostly due to rumors denouncing him as a psychopath and Satanist. Despite his outlandish reputation, however, one cannot deny that Osbourne has had an immeasurable effect on heavy metal.

John Michael Osbourne began his professional career in the late '60s, when he teamed up with guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler, and drummer Bill Ward to form Black Sabbath. The band, made unique by their slow, gloomy melodies and themes, released their self-titled album in 1970 and went on to release classic platinum records such as Paranoid and Master of Reality throughout the rest of the decade.

Ozzy was fired in 1978, which led him to form his own solo project. With his new manager and wife, Sharon, Osbourne formed his own band, the Blizzard of Ozz, with guitarist Randy Rhoads, bassist Bob Daisley, and drummer Lee Kerslake.

The group's self-titled first album was released in September 1980 in the U.K. and early 1981 in the U.S. Blizzard of Ozz had some of the same ingredients of Black Sabbath: the lyrics focused on the occult and the guitars were loud and heavy, yet the band was more technically proficient and capable of pulling off variations on standard metal formulas. Featuring the hit singles "Crazy Train" and "Mr. Crowley," Blizzard of Ozz reached number seven on the U.K. charts; it peaked at number 21 in the U.S., continuing to sell for over two years and becoming a huge success.

Kerslake and Daisley were replaced with Tommy Aldridge and Rudy Sarzo shortly before the subsequent November release of Diary of a Madman. This album, which included the drug ode "Flying High Again," charted at number 16 in the U.S. and became another huge seller. As the Diary tour went underway, sales for the album continued to improve as those of Black Sabbath waned.

Not long afterward, Rhoads was killed in a bizarre plane accident, bringing the band's success to a screeching halt. Osbourne fell into a massive depression shortly after losing his best friend, and plans for his upcoming live album were soon changed. Instead of material recorded with Rhoads, 1982's Speak of the Devil featured live recordings of classic Black Sabbath material and was recorded with guitarist Brad Gillis.

Jake E. Lee became Osbourne's new guitarist for the 1984 studio effort Bark at the Moon. Although Bark at the Moon opened up to rave reviews, 1986's Ultimate Sin received rather harsh criticism. The album, although containing the hit single "Shot in the Dark," was regarded as Osbourne's worst studio effort by numerous critics, who claimed it was redundant and uninteresting; nonetheless, the album was another smash hit.

Lee soon left the band and was replaced with Zakk Wylde for No Rest for the Wicked, which would be released in 1988. The record proved to be one of his strongest yet, highlighted by "Miracle Man," in which Osbourne ridiculed evangelist (and longtime foe) Jimmy Swaggart.

Ozzy has continued to release albums, the latest being Black Rain, with Wylde and his annual Ozzfest tour has become a prime concert ticket during the summer months.

Ozzy is truly one of the legends of heavy metal.

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