The Beatles and Ozzy Osbourne Found Common Ground in an English Occultist

Musically speaking, the overwhelmingly pop-sensible Beatles and heavy metal pioneer Ozzy Osbourne don’t seem to share much common ground—unless, of course, one considers the mutual inspiration they found from English occultist Aleister Crowley.

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Indeed, the eccentric figure once dubbed “the wickedest man in the world” left behind a legacy that would forever alter the creative spirits of some of England’s most well-known musicians for the wickeder, er, better.

The Beatles Paid Homage To Crowley Before Ozzy

Aleister Crowley’s role in influencing the Beatles, like most aspects of Fab Four lore, is shrouded in hazy mystery. While many accept the idea that the Beatles’ 1967 album ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ was simply a creative device that allowed the Beatles to separate themselves from their Fab Four personas for greater artistic freedom, others suspect Sgt. Pepper might’ve been an ode to a real person.

More specifically, some believe the Beatles used the record to pay their respects to Crowley. Not only did the band place Crowley on the album cover. But many have made a connection between the opening track’s first line, It was 20 years ago today Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play, and Crowley’s death 20 years prior to the album’s 1967 release on December 1, 1947.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s 1980 Playboy interview reinforced the suspected connection between the Beatles and Crowley. While speaking of his time with his then-ex-bandmates, Lennon said, “The whole Beatle idea was to do what you want, right? To take your own responsibility” (via This musing reminded readers of one of Crowley’s central tenets of his belief system, Thelema: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.”

Ozzy Paid Tribute 13 Years Later With His Solo Debut

Thirteen years after the release of the Beatles’ iconic ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ album, Ozzy Osbourne released his 1980 solo debut ‘Blizzard of Ozz.’ Osbourne’s inspiration and connection to Crowley was far less shadowy than his fellow Brits. In no uncertain terms, the former Black Sabbath frontman capitalized on this occult inspiration for his solo debut’s B-side opener, “Mr. Crowley.”

Osbourne’s bassist, Bob Daisley, helped the frontman flesh out the idea for his ode to the English occultist while in the studio. “I didn’t want to make a negative song,” Daisley later recalled to Rolling Stone. I wanted to make it a little bit like talking to Mr. Crowley and going, ‘What the f*** were you thinking? What were you doing? What went on in your head?’ He used to sign his autograph ‘Polemically Aleister Crowley.’ ‘Polemic’ just means ‘controversial.’ That’s why, at the end, I wrote ‘polemically sent.’”  

On the 40th anniversary of ‘Blizzard of Ozz,’ Osbourne tweeted that he had read several books by Crowley before coming to his bandmates with his song idea. “He was a very weird guy,” Osbourne wrote. “I always wanted to write a song about him.” As for his actual magical prowess? The heavy metal icon denied any skill in such arenas, telling Rolling Stone in 2002 that he and his bandmates “couldn’t conjure up a fart.”

(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for ABA)

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