Ozzy talks 'Ozzfest'

Heavy metal singer deals with 'his bat act'

Thursday, August 31, 2000

— Heavy metal vocalist Ozzy Osbourne is dressed in a blue pinstriped suit with his eyes ghoulishly covered in black mascara. It's a look that crosses business with shock rock.

"If I want to wear a pinstriped suit, I wear one. Nobody tells me how to dress," the 51-year-old singer said.

Osbourne was one of the original members of Black Sabbath. During the early '70s, the band's exploits became synonymous with the hard-rock lifestyle of all-night parties, groupies and exhausting tour schedules. He left in 1978 to form his own band.

One of his most notorious stunts was biting off a bat's head during a 1982 concert in Des Moines, Iowa. It wasn't planned. Osbourne thought it was a rubber toy a fan had tossed onstage.

"No matter what achievements I make in my career, I will always be known as the guy who bit the bat's head off," he says. "Even the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame considers my career a joke because of it."

In 1996, Osbourne launched Ozzfest, heavy metal's answer to Lollapalooza. The bands on this year's tour include Pantera, Godsmack, Static-X, Incubus, Methods of Mayhem and P.O.D.

What they play is not necessarily music to Osbourne's ears.

"There's nothing wrong with the stuff they play, but I could never sing like that," said Osbourne, referring to the singers' growling tones. "I like some melody in my music."

Ozzfest's final date is Sept. 2 in San Bernadino, Calif. The questions below came from an interview with Osbourne:

How have you maintained your success?

I can't explain it, I'm not the greatest singer in the world. ... The fans have always supported me all these years. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have a career.

How would you describe Ozzfest?

Ozzfest is the alternative to alternative music. It's where heavy bands can get recognition. It's the meat and potatoes of all package tours. I try to put together a show that's entertaining to the kids. They work hard to save for the tickets, and I want to give them the best performance I can.