While in his pomp, few could match the volatile nature of Ozzy Osbourne. He was the embodiment of rock ‘n’ roll, consuming illicit substances at a rate that left the medical community marveling, biting the heads of bats, and becoming an all-around metal maelstrom.
Videos by American Songwriter
Videos by American Songwriter
Osbourne announced on Wednesday (Feb. 1), that his touring days are behind him once and for all. As an homage to the bonkers stories he left in his wake, we’re going through the top five wildest moments from Osbourne’s touring journey. Read on, if you dare.
1. Osbourne Presumed Dead After Cocaine Duel
In November of 1978, Van Halen was opening up for Black Sabbath in Alabama. After the show, David Lee Roth and Osbourne decided to put their consumption of illegal substances to the test. The pair decided to find out once and for all: “who can snort the most coke without dying.”
When their tour bus rolled into Nashville the next morning, Osbourne was MIA. Police were called. Panic ensued. The band began to assume that Osbourne had overdosed somewhere and was dead. A few hours later, Osbourne wobbled into the hotel lobby, greeted by chants of “Ozzy is alive.”
2. Osbourne and John Edward Allen
It’s always interesting to see how rockstars spend their oodles of cash. In the early days of Osbourne’s career, it seems he used his paycheck to fulfill his most base desires. Among which was the odd (and arguably problematic) dream to bring a little person on tour with him.
John Edward Allen was a broadway actor who made the move to Hollywood thanks to roles in Bladerunner and a Wizard of Oz spoof Under the Rainbow. The latter of which caught Osbourne’s eye and prompted him to hire Allen for the duration of his Diary of a Madman and Speak of the Devil Tours.
Their dynamic–which is grounds for cancelation by today’s standards–came to a head one night when Ozzy threw Allen into the luggage compartment of their bus. “Someone grabbed me and said, ‘What you’re doing is not only illegal, it’s inhumane.’ I lost it. I screamed, ‘He’s my bloody dwarf and I’ll do whatever I want with him,'” Osbourne once recalled. Allen responded from the trunk, “He’s right: I’m his midget and he can do whatever he wants with me.”
3. Warning: Do Not Spray on Skin – Highly Toxic
Osbourne decided to play a prank on Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward one night while on the road. While high on coke, the pair were urinating side by side when Osbourne got the bright idea to spray Ward with a non-descript aerosol can.
“I see this aerosol can and I hose his cock with it,” he told Rolling Stone of the incident. “He starts screaming and falls down. I look at the can and it says WARNING: DO NOT SPRAY ON SKIN – HIGHLY TOXIC. I poisoned Bill with his cock!”
He later removed himself from the situation in his autobiography. “One day Tony gets this can of blue spray paint and sneaks around the other side of the railing and when Bill starts pissing over the railing he sprays his cock with it,” he wrote. “You should have heard the scream, man. It was priceless. But then, two seconds later, Bill passes out, falls headfirst over the railing and rolls down the slope.”
4. Osbourne Snorts Ants With Mötley Crüe
It’s a classic in the Osbourne mythos. As the story goes, Mötley Crüe and Osbourne embarked on a drug-fuelled tour in 1984. The notorious foursome and Osbourne often tried to one-up each other to see who pull the most ridiculous stunts. As part of this ongoing pissing contest, Osbourne decided to snort a line of ants while at a hotel in Florida. Though we’re sure the Crüe gave their best effort, Osbourne took the crown for “craziest man on tour” with that one.
5. Osbourne’s Many Animal Beheadings
When thinking of wild Osbourne tour moments, it’s hard to not immediately wince at the thought of a beheaded bat. While that is the story that often gets perpetuated, it’s not the first time Osbourne decided to bite through the noggin of a bird. Reportedly, in March 1981, he decapitated two doves while doing press for an album.
“All I remember is that PR woman kept lashing out at me,” Osbourne once recalled. “At the end, I said: ‘Do you like animals?’ Then I pulled out one of these pigeons and bit off its damn head. Just to shut them up.” While the incident wasn’t technically amid a tour, it was the jumping-off point for one of the most memorable stunts in live music history.
(Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images)