There are legends in the world of hard rock, and then there’s Ozzy Osbourne.
After helping pioneer the heavy metal genre with Black Sabbath beginning in the late ‘60s, Ozzy remained an icon of the hard rock world straight into the early 2000s — when he and his family effectively launched reality television with MTV’s The Osbournes. That peek behind the curtain is available again with The Osbournes Podcast, which launched in September and finds Ozzy, his wife/manager Sharon and his adult children Jack and Kelly offering a glimpse into the life of heavy music’s First Family.
While a podcast isn’t exactly a novel concept in 2023, more unvarnished Osbourne family content will be a welcome treat for many fans, particularly given Ozzy’s recent spate of major health issues in recent years. While he was healing from recent medical procedures, the Prince of Darkness spoke with SPIN about The Osbournes Podcast, his storied career in rock music and whether or not he’s actually the godfather of reality TV.
SPIN: How are you feeling after your recent surgeries?
Ozzy Osbourne: Good, good. I’m at home now getting along with my recovery.
What made you and your family decide to launch a podcast after everything else you’ve done?
Well, my son, really. My son Jack spoke to us all, and because I’m laid up a bit these days — these last five years have been pretty rough for me — it gave me something to do besides sitting down and thinking about myself while I’m recovering from my very heavy surgery. He said, ‘Why don’t we do a family podcast?’ and he started his company, Osbourne [Media], and we did it. It’s a lot of fun. I enjoy doing it.
It seems like the podcast is almost a continuation of the family reality show from 20 years ago.
The reality show wasn’t anything different than our regular life, because that’s the way we are anyway. We didn’t become the Osbournes that you see just for the show. That’s the way we are, and all they did was take funny bits out of it. Every family with kids has [something] that other people will find funny, but we’re just in showbiz and entertainment. I’m a rock ‘n’ roller, my wife’s a manager — she’s always been surrounded by entertainment people — and the kids were born into it. We’ve always been a very close-knit family.
[The podcast feels] different, because we’re all four there, but the kids have all grown up. They have their own families. They have their own kids. It’s something to do. A lot of people tune in because they enjoy hearing us argue about political matters and whatever. We don’t all stick [to the same side]. We’ve always allowed our children to have their own say on whatever they want. They don’t have to like something just because we like it. They know they can say ‘Well, I don’t like that’ and that comes across [on the podcast].
After more than 50 years in music, you won more Grammys for your most recent album, Patient Number 9, than anything before. What was it like to see that appreciation at the tail end of your career?
I’ve had one of the most amazing careers any artist can ever have. I mean, I started in 1968 and I’ve worked at it since then. It’s just been fantastic. I’ll get awards left, right and center, but I don’t know what to do with them. I’m not very good at receiving awards. I didn’t start off [trying to get awards]. I think I was nominated for four or five [Grammys] this year and won two. It’s a nice little touch at the end of the day, I suppose. It’s something to leave my kids.
Having been there since the beginning, how have you seen the rock and metal worlds change over the years?
Well, I’ve never felt comfortable about that title that they put on me – ‘metal.’ Because Ozzy Osbourne plays heavy, but the bands that are [considered metal] are really heavy, and we’re all put in the same category. When you get pigeonholed with a certain [genre], it can be very difficult to do something a bit lighter or an acoustic track or whatever you want to do. Back in the day, it was always just rock music. It’s still just rock music.
How do you feel about the explosion of reality TV after what you and your family did 20 years ago?
Well, it’s really interesting because people love the Kardashians. They took it one stage further. They saw what we did and said, ‘That’s a good idea,’ but they organized themselves. What they do now is kind of scripted reality. It’s not raw. It’s not the real, real reality. With our show, what you saw was what really went on. It wasn’t contrived. It wasn’t scripted. Because at the end of the day, every season, my wife would sit us all down and go, ‘Alright, what do you want to do? Do you want to do another season or not?’ After the third year, the [production crew and MTV] started to ask us to do things that we wouldn’t normally do. At that point, I lost interest in it.
I mean, what they call reality TV now is really not reality. The first season when we did The Osbournes and it got picked up and everybody went Osbournes mad, we would go out and [film] in the streets, and there would be pedestrians and regular people just walking by. They’d just [have those people sign a waiver to be on the show], but by the second season, they wouldn’t just sign the waiver. They’d want money for it. People wouldn’t just sign up anymore.
You recently said that you wouldn’t be touring much anymore, but is there anything else left that you’d still like to do in music or any other medium?
I still want to see an Ozzy Osbourne number one album. But no, I’ve got no complaints. I’m just glad that everybody is tuning into The Osbournes Podcast. It’s a lot of fun, and I want to thank everyone who listens to it and everybody involved in making it happen every week.