Ozzy Osbourne recently spoke to Metal Edge magazine about his four-disc retrospective box set, "Prince of Darkness", and his family's MTV reality show "The Osbournes", among other topics. An excerpt from the interview follows:
Metal Edge: The first time I interview you was twelve years ago, and from all our interaction since then, I haven't seen that much of a change in you. Do you think you've changed a lot, or are people just seeing a side of Ozzy that they haven't seen before?
Ozzy Osbourne: "All people know of me was that I was crazy, Satanic, but the heads off bats, pissed up the Alamo, and was a general rebel rouser. That was true, but from my experiences, when I've made an opinion about somebody and built this picture in my head of what they must live like… I can just imagine what those Bible punchers thought about me! I must have slept upside down, hanging from the rafters in a Bavarian castle, eating dogshit sandwiches all day long! But when we let them into the house, people would come up to me and go, 'Wow, you're just like my old man Al!' I don't know Al, I was just being me. People would come up to me and go, 'Who writes your script? It's incredible!' It's just me! My point is, whenever I met people I admired, they were never like the press built them out to be. When I met [Paul] McCartney, he was the best. And Ringo [Starr], too. People say to me, 'How can you be a BEATLES fan when you play music singing about Satan?' Well, not all my music is about Satan!
"There will never be another band like THE BEATLES. They went from being a boy band to, like, PINK FLOYD. And thank God for them, because I wouldn't be here right now — they were the spark for the best life I know. I was a backstreet kid that was dyslexic with attention deficit disorder, and they gave me a life. I came from a little working class, backstreet house in Birmingham, and now I've got a farm in England, a mansion in England, three houses in London, a house in Malibu [California] and a house in Beverly Hills. I haven't done so bad. Even if it all falls apart tomorrow, I've still tasted the finer things in life, and my wife survived cancer, which is a miracle. My kids got off drugs, which is a miracle. And I also got off drugs and alcohol, which is another miracle."
Metal Edge: When we did that first interview so many years ago, one of the things we talked about was your approach to parenting. At the time, you said you wanted your kids to experiment with drugs, so they could learn, first-hand, that they were bad…
Ozzy Osbourne: "To say that was wrong, and I'll admit I was wrong. When I was a kid, had I read that John Lennon wanted Julian Lennon to do drugs, that would have given me the green light to go ahead and do it, because he was my mentor. What I should have said was that it's inevitable that they will have the choice of whether to try a joint or not try a joint, have a whisky or not have a whisky — it's choices. Stick those choices on Ozzy Osbourne's kids — who are part of an out-of-control, moon-rocket success story with 'The Osbournes' show — and people just want to be around, and it's not always for the right reasons. Jack was doing Oxycontin, he dabbled with opiates, and he came to me and his mom one day and he checked himself into rehab. Now he's got a year more sobriety than I have. He was a catalyst for me to get my head out of my fucking ass, because me, with my egotistical, nonchalant attitude towards life — 'I'm hip, my kids are hip…' — would always say to jack, 'I'm not only your father, I'm your best friend, and I love you…' And I was stoned, and there was shit in me when I said it.
"What I think parenting is about… I'm not always right, and what Sharon and I have allowed our children to do is go, 'No, you're not right! You're not the one that has to go to that school with that guy who keeps fucking with your head!' We never treated our kids like little fucking babies; we treated them like little fucking people. As much as our kids learned from us, we learned from them.
"Parenting is a really difficult job — you don't know what's the right decision. You want to let your kid go to Suzy's house, but you're afraid of the big dog in the garden. You can't go, 'Hey, have your dog shot.' So you say, 'Why not invite Suzy over here?' And they say, 'But then they'll see you. ' Well, what's wrong with me? Then you realize that they're fucking embarrassed because you're lying on the floor half-soaked.
"Sharon and I learn from our children, and we hope our children learn from us. What better education do they want about the dangers of drugs than me coming home stoned? And they still used.
"People say to me, 'Do you think your behavior has had an effect on your kids?' Well, of course it has. Even if I was a fucking priest, my behavior would have an effect on them, I'm their father. What they're really trying to ask me is if my alcoholism and drug addiction made my kids like that. My answer to that? Even if I hadn't been an alcoholic or drug addict, those temptations would still have been there. My dad only drank an occasional beer now and then.
"Some kids don't stop, they get fucked up and die! You can't blame yourself. It's not my fault that I'm an alcoholic and addict. It's not my fault that my children are alcoholics and addicts. It's here and it's a part of the world.
"In England, we live in a little country village called Beckinsfield, and we used to have a friend who was a cop there. He used to tell me that on Friday nights they'd park their car in an alleyway, and any young people they'd see after a certain hour they'd search. Every time they'd find crack, heroin… It's not just Los Angeles and the trappings of fame, it's global. It's a huge problem."