"I wanted to see the world and shoot as many people as possible": Before he joined Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne tried to join the British Army. His application was not accepted

Ozzy in a tank
(Image credit: HISTORY channel)

Black Sabbath, as everyone knows, are the Godfathers of Metal, and trying to imagine how our world would look and sound without their existence is almost impossible. And yet Sabbath in their original form might never have come together, had Ozzy Osbourne's application to join the British Army in 1966 been accepted.

Yes, before he became world famous singing bassist Geezer Butler's scathing War Pigs lyrics about politicians encouraging "the poor" to fight their wars and sacrificing soldiers "like pawns in chess", John Michael Osbourne had his heart set upon enlisting in the military.

"I was 17 and pissed off and I wanted to see the world and shoot as many people as possible," The 'Double O' revealed to MOJO magazine in an interview in 2000. "How far did I get? About three feet across the fucking front door. They just told me to fuck off. He said, 'We want subjects, not objects.' I had long hair, a water-tap on a string around my neck for jewellery, I was wearing a pyjama shirt for a jacket, my arse was hanging out and I hadn't had a bath for months."

Rather sweetly, Ozzy added that his application to join the military was largely based upon trying to make his parents happy.  

"For years my mother would say, 'When are you going to pack up this rock'n'roll nonsense and get a proper job.' And my dad would say, 'You've got to learn a trade — he was a tool maker. I thought joining the army would please him.

"I remember when the first Black Sabbath album came out I thought, 'Great, I can show my dad.' We put it on the old radiogram and I remember him looking at mum with this really confused look on his face and turning to me and saying, 'Son, are you sure you're just drinking the occasional beer?'"

In the same interview, Ozzy recalls that if had spoke his father in the same way that his children speak to him, "I'd be lying in the garden with a pitch-fork stuck in my fucking chest."

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.