Ozzy Osbourne is a living, breathing monument of rock & roll. From his early days in Birmingham as the singer of what would become the world's first heavy-metal band, Black Sabbath, to his mainstream resurgence in the early 2000s as the lovable, incoherent dad on four seasons of his family's hit reality show The Osbournes, Ozzy has proven captivating and iconic for multiple generations.
His well-known wild-man antics are cultural canon: Unknowingly biting the head off a live bat onstage, taking a piss on The Alamo, snorting a line of ants off the street when Nikki Sixx couldn't provide him with a line of cocaine are just some of the tales perpetuated in countless cover stories and Behind The Music–style shows. But it is his music with Black Sabbath and his solo career that will live on forever.
Through it all, when he hasn't been mumbling incomprehensibly, the Prince of Fucking Darkness has repeatedly demonstrated a remarkably sharp wit, self-deprecating humor and life-hardened sense of wisdom. With that in mind, we've compiled a few choice quotes from his many TV appearances, magazine interviews and more. Read on to see what Ozzy has to say about guns, meeting the queen, and the time he was surrounded by Texan evangelicals trying to drag him to the light.
"We don't need to have naked birds leaping all over the stage or try to conjure up the devil." - NME, 1970
"We're just gonna go on and play our music, man, you know. We're not gonna go on and blow the stage up or anything like that." - California Jam, 1974
"I think there's a wild man in everybody. All I am is a conductor of mayhem. I like to see people get off in a good way. I like to give myself to people as Ozzy." - Night Flight, 1982
"I get a lot of weird people at my concerts. It's kind of rock & roll, ya know. And somebody threw a bat onstage, and I thought it was one of these toy bats. So I picked it up, bit the thing's head off, and suddenly everybody's freaking out because it's a real bat ... I can assure you the rabies shots what I went through after weren't fun." - Late Night, 1982
"I suddenly realized that when I was a drug addict, I used to write things like 'Flying High Again,' 'Snowblind,' all this shit. And the other night, I thought, 'Fucking' 'ell, I sing one song for it and then straight after I sing one song against it.' But the thing is, that's OK. Because that was where I was when I wrote that, so why shouldn't I do it? It's part of my life. It's a part of what I am and what I will be. I might start singing fucking religious songs. I don't think so, but if I choose to, why not? To think that you can't sing stuff from your last album because now you're a different man is bullshit. If they're good enough to write and good enough to hear and to buy, then they're good enough to sing onstage, you know? I'm not ashamed of anything that I've done in the past." - Spin, 1986
On Zakk Wylde: "If someone had said to me 20 years ago, 'That little baby in that pram is gonna be your guitar player someday,' I would never have believed it." - Monster of Rock, 1988
"I seem to remember this big Texan guy running around the corner with a police officer and he says to me, 'Officer, that's the animal!' And the cop come over to me and says, 'Where do you come from?' I said, 'England.' He says, 'What would you do if I was to piss up Buckingham Palace?' And I said, 'I wouldn't care. I don't live there.'" - Hard 'n' Heavy, 1989
"I can't understand why people can't accept the fact that I'm an artist/entertainer. It's like a clown: A guy that works in the circus, do you see him walking around in the street with his red nose and his makeup on? I'm just an entertainer and it's what I do for a living and I enjoy what I do for a living. And it's great, you know. Long live rock & roll." - Joan Rivers Father's Day interview, 1991
"I was doing a show down in Texas, and there was this evangelist guy trying to ban the show. So I got down about six in the morning, and I got a bad throat 'cause I'd been on a bit of a bender the last week or two — that was when I used to do that, but I don't do that anymore. I used to have this bodyguard who was an ex-Vietnam vet — it was crazy, I didn't know that at the time. Most of the time when I have a bodyguard, if they'd didn't kill anybody every three weeks, they didn't think they were doing their job. And this guy was like, 'No. Violence.' ... So we get to this hotel and I say to the guy, Larry, I says, 'Larry, go get me a doctor. I want a doctor for around 12 o'clock — a throat doctor.' I went to bed about seven and I got up about 11 and go down to the coffee shop. I say to Larry, 'Larry, go and tell the guy at reception when the throat guy comes, I'll be in the coffee shop.' Unbeknown to me, the coffee shop had been staked out with all these evangelists. I'm sitting in the coffee shop drinking coffee ... this guys sitting there, keeping guard like a good terrier. This guy comes over to me and he's got a smart suit on and a tied tie or whatever, and he goes, 'Are you Mr. Ozzy Osbourne?' So I go, 'Oh, yeah.' He goes, 'PUT JESUS IN FRONT,' and they all start jumping on me! ... This guy turns into Rambo, starts throwing them all through the walls, breaking chairs, and I'm going, 'Larry, don't, don't kill! We don't kill today!'" - Conan O'Brien Show, 1997
"America doesn't need as many guns! I keep hearing this fucking thing that guns don't kill people, but people kill people. If that's the case, why do we give people guns when they go to war? Why not just send the people?" - New York Times, 1998
"When I went up to the Queen, I tried to keep my hand in my pocket. I was afraid she would faint when she saw the tattoo [OZZY on the fingers of his left hand]. She said, "I understand you're quite the wild one." I just went, "Heh, heh, heh." One thing I noticed — she's got the greatest skin for a woman of her age." - Rolling Stone, 2002
"I try and be a nice, neighborly fucking person." - The Osbournes, 2003
"In the Seventies with Sabbath, if I'd had a crystal ball that said you would be hailed into the Nineties, and the next century, I wouldn't have believed it. I didn't for a long time anyway. I thought people were taking the piss with that 'I'm not worthy' stuff." - The Guardian, 2007
"It's all give and take. I give and she takes." - Time Magazine, 2010
"Sharon saves my life every day. I mean, to say "I love my wife" is not enough. I absolutely live for my wife." Interview Magazine, 2011
"Who the fuck's Justin Bieber?" - Fuse, 2012
"Randy Rhoads' mom came [to visit], and we were over at rehearsals. I was sitting here, his mom was next to me and Randy was next to her. And I'm fucking bloated and fucking drunk or whatever, and she goes to Randy, 'When do I get to meet Ozzy?' And he starts laughing. He goes, 'That's him.' She goes, 'Oh!'" - Revolver, 2013
"I could not conform to a nine-to-five job, no way. I lasted about a month, then I told them to go fuck themselves and walked out. My mother went fucking insane! I remember one guy was there for 35 years and they gave him a fucking gold watch. Thirty-five years of my fucking life for a watch? Fuck that." - Kerrang, 2017
"I never thought I'd make it this far. Fifty years is a lot. I don't understand why I'm alive still after the hell-raising days. I guess whoever the man is upstairs, if there even is one, wants me to stick around." - Rolling Stone, 2018
"Everybody likes the bad guy. I'm sure Robin Hood didn't rob from the rich to give to poor. He robbed everybody. It's always the bad things that people get a kick out of. I was the rock & roll rebel for a long while. But that's alcohol and drugs. It's not very cool to die young." - Revolver, 2018