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December 3, 2020

The Godfather of Heavy Metal: 20 Amazing Photos of a Very Young Looking Ozzy Osbourne in the Early 1970s

Known as the Godfather of Heavy Metal, Ozzy Osbourne rose to fame in the 1970s as the frontman of the seminal heavy metal band Black Sabbath, delivering such iconic songs as “War Pigs,” “Iron Man” and “Paranoid.” He embarked on a successful solo career in 1979, earning attention for his outrageous public acts and drawing the ire of conservative groups. Osbourne later garnered a new legion of fans by starring with his family in the unlikely hit reality show The Osbournes.

John Michael Osbourne was born into a working-class family in Birmingham, England, on December 3, 1948. The fourth of six children, he acquired the nickname Ozzy while in elementary school, where he struggled with his dyslexia. These and other challenges prompted Osbourne to leave school at age 16, at which point he worked a series of menial jobs, including a stint in a slaughterhouse. He soon moved on to more illicit activities by committing a series of petty crimes, culminating with a brief prison sentence for burglary.

Throughout this turbulent period in his life, however, Osbourne nurtured a deep love for music, and after his release from prison, he began exploring his potential as a vocalist. In 1968 he teamed up with bass player Terence “Geezer” Butler, guitarist Tony Iommi and drummer Bill Ward to form the rock band Polka Tulk Blues, which they soon renamed Earth. While Earth earned some local notoriety, it wasn’t until the group began experimenting with the hard-driving, amplified sound that would later characterize the heavy metal genre, that they caught the attention of record producers. Since the band’s moniker was already in use by another group, they adopted the name Black Sabbath, a reference to the classic Boris Karloff film.

The band’s steady intake of drugs and alcohol — mostly by Osbourne — also added to the strain, along with the loss of fans to the burgeoning punk rock movement. Following the releases of Technical Ecstasy (1976) and Never Say Die (1978), Osbourne and his bandmates parted ways. Though Black Sabbath would carry on with various frontmen in the decades to come — including Ronnie James Dio, Dave Donato, Ian Gilliam, Glenn Hughes and Tony Martin — the group would never reach the same heights achieved during the Osbourne era, when they wrote and recorded some of heavy metal’s most memorable songs.


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