"I didn't do a thing in the music industry until I was twenty-nine": Billy Morrison is a success story 30 years in the making

Bily Morrison press portrait
(Image credit: Jane Stuart)

Billy Morrison is an ex-pat Brit living the American Dream. After leaving both his band, London industrial-punks Stimulator, and the UK at the end of the 1990s and heading to Los Angeles, he’s become a self-made success story, playing with The Cult, Ozzy Osbourne and Billy Idol and all-star covers band Royal Machines (formerly Camp Freddy). 

His third solo album, The Morrison Project, mashes up metal, punk, EDM and hip-hop, and features guest vocals from Corey Taylor, rapper DMC, Ministry’s Al Jourgensen, Linda Perry and, on Crack Cocaine, Ozzy Osbourne.


You’ve hit the contact book hard for this album. That’s an impressive line-up of guests. 

I didn’t even know I was making an album. I was just making music during covid for no reason. I ended up with probably about thirty songs. Most of them were shit, but there some great little ideas. The whole contact book thing happened just because I could hear shit in my head that I couldn’t sing: “Corey Taylor would kill this song.” 

How does one go about persuading Ozzy Osbourne to sing a track called Crack Cocaine? 

You don’t persuade Ozzy to do anything. I’ve had a thirty-year friendship with him, and he’s been there for me more times than anyone else in my entire life. I never say: “Let’s write a song.” He was the one who said it. We wrote it in a day. Typical Ozzy, he’s sitting there writing and he looks up and goes: [sings chorus] ‘Like crack cocaine…’ We went: “And that’s the fucking song!” 

How did you get to know Ozzy in the first place? 

Decades ago, I was invited by a mutual friend to a Christmas party at Ozzy and Sharon’s house. I get severe social anxiety, so I walked into this kitchen just to breathe. And Ozzy was doing exactly the same thing. We ended up talking about Cadbury’s chocolate and the Sex Pistols. Thirty years later here we are.

You had your own struggles with hard drugs when you were young. What would you say to that kid now? 

It’s difficult, because I wouldn’t be the person I am without the struggle I had. I didn’t do what most musicians do and get a couple of platinum albums, earn some money and get a drug habit. I started when I was fourteen, and didn’t do a thing in the music industry until I was twenty-nine. But I would advise people that there are easier ways of achieving creative fulfilment than shooting smack in your neck all day long. 

You’ve got a very successful parallel career as an artist. What do you get out of that? 

Ozzy draws every day. He was driving me fucking crazy: “You should paint.” I said: “Ozzy, I can’t even draw a stick figure.” But I bought a tiny canvas to shut him up, and I painted a skull. And the experience was so cathartic. It was like learning Anarchy In The UK for the first time. I’ve painted every day for the last ten years. Now I sell my paintings. But I’ve worked at it. 

What are your plans with this album?

Once it’s released, I’m done with it. I made it because I like making music, that’s all. Someone asked me about my ‘solo career’. I’m like: “There is no solo career.” That’s not what this is about. 

The Morrison Project is out now TLG/Virgin.

Dave Everley

Dave Everley has been writing about and occasionally humming along to music since the early 90s. During that time, he has been Deputy Editor on Kerrang! and Classic Rock, Associate Editor on Q magazine and staff writer/tea boy on Raw, not necessarily in that order. He has written for Metal Hammer, Louder, Prog, the Observer, Select, Mojo, the Evening Standard and the totally legendary Ultrakill. He is still waiting for Billy Gibbons to send him a bottle of hot sauce he was promised several years ago.