Ozzy Osbourne has been hospitalised, sliced open, incapacitated and close to death more than once. But as his all-star new album Patient Number 9 proves, the defiant singer his still got plenty of life left him in.
The brand new issue of Metal Hammer (opens in new tab) features an interview with the great man, in which he lays out his health battles, the making of the album, being blanked by a fellow rock icon – and tells us about how he’s itching to get back out on stage, even if it’s in a wheelchair…
The last few years have been tough for Ozzy – even without Covid
A fall at home in 2019 dislodged a steel rod that had been put in Ozzy’s back following his near-fatal 2003 quad bike crash. He says a 2019 operation to insert 15 screws in his back went wrong – which is where his problems really started. “The first guy who did my surgery cocked it up really fucking bad,” Ozzy tells Hammer. “I ended up in hospital for three months.” He also had to contend with severe flu, a staph infection and Covid. “It’s been fucking miserable, man,” Ozzy says.
But he’s back on his feet now
Following a pair of operations earlier this year to correct the first surgeries, Ozzy is on the mend, “It’s a slow recovery, but I’ve been burning the candle at both ends for 50 years,” he says. “I do an hour [of physio] a day where I used to do ten. My trainer says, ‘Walk up the hill once.’ Fucking once?! I’ll be running up there by the end of the week. I want to get back.”
He wasn’t sure if he’d make another album until daughter Kelly introduced him to producer Andrew Watt.
“I thought I was finished,” says Ozzy. “We’d had to put the tour [2019’s No More Tours II tour] off, and I was at home thinking that was it. Then Kelly says, ‘Dad, do you want to make an album? I know this guy…’” The guy was Andrew Watt, who went on to produce 2020’s Ordinary Man and Patient Number 9.
One rock megastar blanked Ozzy’s request to appear on Patient Number 9
Patient Number 9’s all-star cast list includes Eric Clapton, Metallica’s Robert Trujillo, Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan, late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins and Ozzy’s longtime guitarist/right hand man Zakk Wylde. The singer also tried to tap up Jimmy Page, only for the ex-Led Zeppelin legend to ignore him. “I don’t even know if he plays any more, but I thought getting Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page meant having the greatest guitarists on the planet,” Ozzy says. “But I never heard from him. Maybe he’d lost his phone or something!”
Zakk Wylde “saved” Patient Number 9
The singer says Zakk’s input into the album was crucial. “I was driving Andrew mad,” Ozzy says. “There was a lot of back and forth about getting the album right – I told him it’s okay if he produces a bad album because he’ll move on to the next guy. If I make a bad album people will say, ‘Ozzy Osbourne is finished.’ In the end, Zakk saved the day, he put a few things on there that made it feel like a proper Ozzy Osbourne album.”
Tony Iommi’s collaborations with Ozzy on Patient Number 9 sound like great lost Black Sabbath songs
Former Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi plays on two Patient Number 9, Degradation Sells and No Escape From Now. “We’ve had great times, terrible times and everything in between, but even when we’ve hated each other, we’ve always stayed in touch,” says Ozzy of his relationship with Tony. “And I don’t give a fuck what anyone says, there’s no other person on this planet who can come up with riffs like him… Those Tony Iommi tracks, especially No Escape From Now, if Geezer [Butler, Sabbath bassist] and Bill [Ward, Sabbath drummer] had played on them would have made a fucking great Sabbath tracks.”
Ozzy still speaks fondly about his Black Sabbath bandmates - even Bill Ward
“It’s my only regret [with Sabbath] is that Bill couldn’t work the deal out,” Ozzy says. “But I love him – I love all of them, in one way or another. We were four kids from Aston who conquered the world. I’ve got a bench in Birmingham – some people get statues, I got a park bench!”
Making his last two albums stopped Ozzy going crazy
“When I’m making music, I ain’t thinking about me,” Ozzy says. “It gives my head a break. My head is fucking septic, man – it tells me bad shit all the time. If I hadn’t done those albums, I’d be fucking insane.”
He’s frustrated at not being able to go out on tour until next year
After being forced to postpone his tour twice in the last few years, Ozzy is itching to get back out on the road in 2023. “It’s fucking killing me, man,” he says. “Sitting on my arse makes the ‘poor-me’s’ come on, but that’s not what I’m about. I’m about doing gigs – it’s in my bones and if I have another year like this, I’ll go out in a fucking wheelchair.”
Don’t expect Ozzy to retire any time soon
Even after everything he’s been through, Ozzy remains adamant he isn’t planning on retiring just yet. “You know the most valuable thing I’ve got now? Time,” he says. “I’m 73, so I can’t do all this once I’m dead. I’m doing as much as I can to leave behind before I go.”
Read the full interview with Ozzy in the brand new issue of Metal Hammer. Order your copy online and get it delivered straight to your door.