After Sabbath: How Ozzy stayed relevant after his Black Sabbath heyday - from 'Iron Man' to 'Ordinary Man'

After Sabbath: How Ozzy stayed relevant after his Black Sabbath heyday - from 'Iron Man' to 'Ordinary Man'
Ozzy Osbourne (Getty Images)

When Ozzy Osbourne was kicked out of the revered band Black Sabbath on April 27, 1979, and replaced by Ronnie James Dio on vocals, it seemed like the final nail in the coffin for the legendary bat-s**t-crazy vocalist. After various attempts to rein in his increasingly erratic, drug-addled behavior, the singer was asked to part ways with a band with whom he had pioneered an entire subgenre of music called heavy metal.

(L-R) Musicians Bill Ward, Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne and Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath appear at a press conference to announce their first new album in 33 years and a world tour in 2012 at the Whiskey A Go-Go on November 11, 2011 in West Hollywood, California. (Getty Images)

His Black Sabbath mates Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Bill Ward didn't really want to fire him, but Ozzy's notorious mood swings, lame excuses, and drug-fuelled benders around town were rendering him next-to-useless as a productive band member for months on end. And this came at a time when Sabbath desperately needed him to shape up and pull his weight behind writing and recording their new upcoming album.


With mounting pressure from their record label to show them new tracks and Ozzy still non-committal and non-functional, Black Sabbath decided to pull the plug on their vocalist, unwilling to sink with Ozzy into the mire of his own making. But the beloved vocalist managed to resurrect himself like a phoenix from the ashes, and went on to enjoy even greater worldwide acclaim and notoriety, well into his 70s!

Here are three big reasons why he managed to do it:

(L-R) Ozzy Osbourne and Sharon Osbourne speak onstage during the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Getty Images)

Behind every successful man is an even greater woman

When Ozzy was fired from Black Sabbath, his future seemed doomed. His professional career looked certain to plummet, and no one really wanted to save him as much as Ozzy was intent on sabotaging himself. So there is really only one person who can lay claim to being the primary reason behind his phenomenal success - Sharon Arden, the young, fiery daughter of Black Sabbath's manager, Don Arden, who decided to risk it all and take on managing Ozzy for what remained of his solo career. With Sharon's love, help and guidance, Ozzy managed to revive his fortunes and kickstart a successful solo career, and also found himself a dedicated partner for life in the process - they started dating in 1979 and were married in 1982. Sharon Osbourne's street smarts, savvy managerial tactics, and unmatched entrepreneurial vision saw Ozzy became twice the legend he had become with Black Sabbath. As of today, Ozzy and Sharon have a combined net worth of close to half a billion dollars!


Rocker Zakk Wylde attends the ceremony in which Randy Rhoads was honored posthumously and inducted into the Hollywood Rockwalk on March 18, 2004 in Hollywood, California. (Getty Images)

Ozzy always surrounded himself with superlative talent

One of the biggest reasons Ozzy managed to stay relevant was because he (and Sharon) always insisted on playing with the best talents in the music industry. Look no further than Quiet Riot's Randy Rhoads, one of the biggest and brightest guitar talents to ever hit the world's stage. Rhoads and Ozzy had unmatched chemistry, and were a match made in heaven right from Rhoads' first astonishing guitar audition. Along with Bob Daisley (Rainbow/Uriah Heep) on bass, Don Airey (Rainbow/Deep Purple) on keyboards, and Lee Kerslake  (Uriah Heep) on drums, Ozzy's solo project/supergroup would go on to release two celebrated and critically acclaimed albums, 'Blizzard of Ozz' and 'Diary of a Madman'. After Rhoads tragically passed away in 1982, Ozzy stuck to his formula, and continued to feature supremely talented musicians in his lineup, among them Jake E. Lee and Zakk Wylde, renowned guitarists in their own right. Another key feature of Ozzy's continued commercial longevity is the fact that since 1991's 'No More Tears', he began bringing in noteworthy composers to help him write his solo material instead of just relying on his recording ensemble - this ensured that his signature Ozzy sound and tracks remained relevant well past the new millennium.


The Osbournes, Ozzy (L), Sharon, Jack, and Kelly are shown in this undated photo. MTV officials said on March 4, 2002 that Ozzy Osbourne, the heavy metal rock star and his family would be the subject of a new MTV series, "The Osbournes," which MTV described as television's first "reality sitcom." (Getty Images)

Ozzy embraced his persona (and the spotlight) to the hilt

There's a telling moment from Ozzy's latest documentary called 'The Nine Lives of Ozzy', where he mentioned that he had two personas - one was the normal, bland John (Ozzy's real name) and the other was the Ozzy we all know and love (the crazy, mischievous entertainer). And what made Ozzy such a success was that he willingly embraced his kooky entertainer label and the spotlight to the fullest. The Ozzfest was merely another genius branding move dreamed up by Sharon in 1996, after being turned down by Lollapalooza in an attempt to get Ozzy on the festival circuit. What Ozzy lacked in pure vocal chops, he more than made up for it with his charisma, sense of spectacle and masterfully-produced concerts. And if you can give the audience what they came to see and hear, the money comes rolling in. With Sharon's help, reality TV fame beckoned, and as part of their runaway smash hit MTV show 'The Osbournes', Ozzy became a household name. He completely embraced his bumbling, clowning celebrity status in every sense of the word, ensuring that he never looked back on the what-might-have-beens, and instead chose to look forward to the what-comes-next part.



As for what comes next, the godfather of metal himself stated in a recent interview, "What I learned is you have to have something to retire to. So I'm going to continue with my solo thing. It's not a job, it's a passion." His farewell tour, No More Tours II will end on December 2020 and his latest album, 'Ordinary Man' will release on February 21, 2020.


Share this article:

 Black Sabbath singer Ozzy Osbourne relevant career revival Sharon Osbourne Randy Rhoads Zakk Wylde