Remember When: Lemmy Collaborated with Ozzy on ‘No More Tears’

Ozzy Osbourne and late Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister are two of the most renowned and infamous figures in the heavy metal world. They crossed paths many times and it was inevitable they would one day collaborate. While Osbourne was working on his 1991 album No More Tears—which spawned the ironically titled No More Tours concert trek—he struggled with lyrics for some of the songs. Thus his wife and manager Sharon Osbourne approached Lemmy about penning words for them.

Videos by American Songwriter

“I’m good at starting lyrics, but I can’t finish them,” Osbourne confessed to BBC Radio 2 in 2021. “He’d write a bunch of lyrics for my songs. … I’d give him a tape … and I tell him, ‘Tell me what you think. And I have a bunch of these lyrics whenever you can.’”

3 Sets of Lyrics

Osbourne gave some ideas to Lemmy as well as a book about World War II, a favorite topic of Kilmister’s. Osbourne expected Kilmister would take a few days with his work, but he told him to come back in four hours.

“So I got back, and he goes, ‘What do you think about these?’” Osbourne recalled. “And I go, ‘Oh, great.’ He then goes, ‘What about these?’ I go, ‘Oh, you got two?’ He goes, ‘No, I got another one—three.’ I go, ‘You have written three sets of lyrics?’ He said, ‘Yeah … and that book was crap!’ I said, ‘What book?’ He says, ‘The book you gave me.’”

Kilmister ultimately wrote lyrics for four songs on No More Tears: “Desire,” “I Don’t Want to Change the World,” “Hellraiser,” and “Mama, I’m Coming Home.” “Hellraiser” also wound up being recorded by Motörhead for the soundtrack to Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth and the band’s 10th album released in 1992, March ör Die. Naturally, the Motörhead version stripped away the keyboards and featured Lemmy’s raspier vocals.

Ozzy Scores a Hit Single

More importantly, the melancholic and melodic ballad “Mama, I’m Coming Home” became Osbourne’s only solo hit single in America, reaching No. 28 on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart. It also would be the only time Kilmister would participate in a hit single in America. (Osbourne, however, would go Top 10 through collaborations with Lita Ford in 1989 and Post Malone in 2019.) Motörhead was never a commercial band and never sold anywhere what Osbourne did, but they both remain equally revered.

Times have changed and times are strange
Here I come, but I ain’t the same
Mama, I’m coming home
Time’s gone by, it seems to be
You could have been a better friend to me
Mama, I’m coming home

Undoubtedly buoyed by the success of that hit single, No More Tears became a massive success for rock’s Prince Of Darkness, eventually going Quadruple Platinum with the combined total sales of his previous two studio albums, The Ultimate Sin and No Rest for the Wicked. As a thank you for his contributions, Osbourne dueted with Kilmister on Motörhead’s acoustic ballad “I Ain’t No Nice Guy” from March ör Die. Osbourne also appeared in the video.

“I had a good time writing songs for him [Ozzy] because when I came to America [in 1990] I was broke, I had nothing in the bank,” Kilmister recalled to Classic Rock Magazine in 2013. “Sharon Osbourne said, ‘Do you want to write four songs?’ and they gave me this lump sum that was more money than I’d ever seen in my life! More money then I’d ever made in Hawkwind and Motörhead even when we were No. 1. I never got royalties, but that was alright with me. I’ve written a few more since, for him.”

Kilmister also wrote the very personal song “My Little Man” for Osbourne’s next album Ozzmosis. “I did write one about Randy Rhoads, but it bothered Ozzy because he got too deep into it,” Kilmister revealed. “I’m good at putting myself in other people’s head, y’know?” Presumably that song is Lemmy’s other Ozzmosis contribution, “See You on the Other Side,” which later became the title of Osbourne’s career-spanning box set in 2019.

Although online sources do not credit Kilmister as co-writer of the sitar-laced “My Little Man,” guitarist Steve Vai, who co-wrote the song with him and Osbourne, confirmed that it is true.

“I wrote a song with [Lemmy] and Ozzy called ‘My Little Man’ that appears on Ozzy’s Ozzmosis record,” Vai told Guitar World in December 2015. “Lemmy wrote the lyrics. If you listen to [them], you can glean an insight into the deep softness that was comfortably resting under the external persona. The song is deeply touching, and when I met his son Paul, I realized how sincere those lyrics are.”

‘I Ain’t Got No Regrets’

In 2022, Osbourne described his last in-person meeting with Lemmy to “I went down to South America and he was there on tour, but he was so f–ked he couldn’t speak to anyone,” the singer recalled. “He was sitting at the front, skinny as a rake. He was riddled with cancer at the end, but mind you, he turned round to me and said ‘I’m probably going to die, I suppose. Never thought I’d make 70, so I did good.’”

Added Osbourne, “His exact words were, ‘I could have lived a lot longer and taken care of myself, but I lived my life the way I want to live and I ain’t got no regrets.’ Fair enough!”

A Tribute to Lemmy

As a tribute to his late friend, who passed away in December 2015, Osbourne released a new version of “Hellraiser” that used vocals from his original version and the Motörhead take to create a virtual duet. The animated video features the duo, depicted as their younger selves, spiritedly battling zombified hordes and chasing alien invaders into space after one steals Lemmy’s famed Rickenbacker bass.

Beyond his admiration for Lemmy’s lyrics, Ozzy appreciated his intelligence. “To look at Lemmy, you’d never think he was as educated as he was,” Ozzy told Rolling Stone in 2015. “People look at the music we do and the way we look, and they go, ‘Oh, this bunch is a bunch of yobbos. They don’t know what they’re doing. They’re bad people.’ But it’s not true. Lemmy looks like an old biker, but he was so well-read. He was very up on a lot of things. He was a very clever guy.”

When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Photo by Gaye Gerard/Getty Images

Leave a Reply

Former ‘American Idol’ Judge Makes Major Career Move, Sparking Speculation They’ll Replace Katy Perry

Former ‘American Idol’ Judge Makes Major Career Move, Sparking Speculation They’ll Replace Katy Perry

Dwight Yoakam

Dwight Yoakam Forced to Stop Festival Performance After Suffering Heat Exhaustion; Team Releases Statement