“You distract the driver and I’ll hit him over the head”: Bruce Dickinson and Ozzy Osbourne once tried to steal a taxi together

Photos of Bruce Dickinson and Ozzy Osbourne onstage in the 1980s
(Image credit: Bruce Dickinson: Steve Rapport (Getty) / Ozzy Osbourne: Dave Hogan (Getty))

There’s no shortage of scandalous Ozzy Osbourne stories out there, from pissing on the Alamo to biting a head off of a bat live onstage. However, there’s also one antic that nearly joined that impressive list of wild displays, but was prevented at the last minute. Black Sabbath’s Prince Of Darkness once plotted with Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson to steal a taxi, before the pair were rumbled and cooler – or, rather, more sober – heads prevailed.

Dickinson told the anecdote during an appearance on the short-lived UK chat show Clarkson, hosted by controversial ex-Top Gear man Jeremy Clarkson from 1998 to 2000. On the programme, the topic of classic rock ’n’ roll excess came up. “You knocked around with Ozzy Osbourne offstage, didn’t you?” Clarkson asked. “That must have been chaotic.”

Dickinson instantly proved the presenter right when he replied: “I’d had a drink, this was a long time ago, and Oz suggested that we nick a taxi.” The singer doesn’t provide a timeframe for the evening, but let’s be honest: this was definitely in the 1980s.

The story starts with (a presumably drunk) Dickinson locked in his hotel room (presumably for his own good). “They locked me in my room and I escaped out the window and went to the bar,” he remembered. “There was nobody in it, so I sat down and thought: ‘When somebody comes, they’d better have a drink.’ I ordered 50 beers and sat there.

“Oz comes in with his entourage,” Dickinson continued, “and the first thing he said to me was ‘I’ve given up drinking. I’ve stopped.’” He breaks into a wicked grin: “Then he sat down and went, ‘I’ll have a double brandy please!’

“He had a couple beers and said to me, ‘Let’s nick a taxi.’ I asked, ‘How you gonna do that?’ He said, ‘Well, you call it and I’ll distract him – no, you distract him and I’ll hit him over the head! Can you drive?’ When I said yes he went, ‘Good, I can’t.’” Most worryingly, Ozzy apparently then added: “It’s alright, I’ve done it before.”

Sadly, someone – somehow – was able to stop this airtight plan. “I think somebody overheard our conversation and rumbled it,” Dickinson lamented.

Watch the full clip below:

Matt Mills

Louder’s resident Cult Of Luna obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.