PHOTOS: Ozzy Osbourne’s Dramatic Transformation Over the Course of His Iconic Career

by Matthew Wilson

Ozzy Osbourne may have turned 72 last December. But the self-titled Prince of Darkness still has a lot of rock and heavy metal left in his soul.

Osbourne has had his fair share of battles over the years, most notably with substance abuse. But music has always been his passion and the one constant in his life. It’s been a long time since Osbourne first kicked off his career back in the 1960s. The rock star has seen the music landscape change over the years. But there’s only one Ozzy.

Take a look at how Osbourne has changed over the past few decades.

Ozzy Osbourne Starts His Career

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In 1967, a fresh-faced Ozzy Osbourne began his path to become a rock legend. The Prince of Darkness hadn’t been created yet. Osbourne decided to create a band with his Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Bill Ward to escape a future as a factory worker. They called themselves the Earth Blues Company, and there wasn’t anything dark or sinister about them

But by 1969, the band changed their name to Black Sabbath, based on a Boris Karloff flick. Running with that imagery, the band themed themselves around horror and the occult. Butler and Osbourne wrote the band’s song “Black Sabbath” after Butler read an occult book.

This new style proved to be a hit with fans. But they also garnered criticism from conservative groups. That controversy had the opposite effect and made the band even more popular.

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The early 1970s proved to be kind to the band success-wise. After a debut album that critics panned but sold commercially, the band followed with their seminal “Paranoid” album in 1971. That album included many of the band’s most popular outings including “War Pigs, “Iron Man,” and the titular “Paranoid.”

Bolstered by the controversy surrounding their music, Osbourne and the band turned their next three albums into platinum gold. The band was riding higher than ever. But in 1975, “Sabotage” began the beginning of the end for Osbourne’s time with the band.

That album failed to achieve the same acclaim as their previous outings. Additionally, drug-use within the band caused Osbourne and fellow members to begin fighting. In 1978, Osbourne, who continued his drug and alcohol use, had a falling out with the other members. He left to pursue a solo career. In 1979, he met his future wife Sharon.

Ozzy Osbourne Leaves for a Solo Career

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He may be the Prince of Darkness. But Ozzy Osbourne refused to go gentle into that good night. In 1980, he kicked-started a successful solo venture. With “Blizzard of Ozz,” the rock star recorded two of his most famous classic “Crazy Train” and “Mr. Crowley,” which continued his family.

His 1981 follow-up “Diary of a Madman” proved to be equally successful. But unfortunately, a plane crash killed Osbourne’s guitarist and two members of his entourage during this time. In 1982, he married Sharon Osbourne. Throughout the 1980s, he continued to challenge authority with his rebel image.

Perhaps one of the most famous stunts, Osbourne bit a live bat’s head off while on stage.

Osbourne Sees His Star Power Wane

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After a period of success, Osbourne toyed with retiring. In 1992, he won a Grammy Award for his mournful “I DOn’t Want to Change the World.”

But the second half of the decade, Osbourne’s popularity began to wane. His struggle with drugs and alcohol continued to be a problem in his personal life. Despite a stint in rehab, he continued to battle with his issues.

The Rock Star Releases a Reality Show

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In 2001, another solo album brought Osbourne back into the spotlight. But his reality show “The Osbournes” made him even more famous. The reality show focused on Osbourne and his family and their dysfunctional relationships. The show became one of MTV’s highest-rated shows ever and won a Primetime Emmy Award.

In 2005, Osbourne finally reunited with his former Black Sabbath bandmates for a tour. A year later, the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Throughout the 2000s, Osbourne continued to impress with new music and studio albums.

Ozzy Osbourne Deals with Health Issues

But all things must end. In 2015, Osbourne toured with Black Sabbath one last time for the tour called The End. The band wrapped up their last concert in 2017, putting a period on their time together.

In 2020, Osbourne had to cancel the United States portion of his No More Tours 2 tour. The rock star intends for the tour to be his last even though he swears he isn’t retiring from music. In January 2020, Osbourne was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He also fell and suffered a neck injury, which he’s been recuperating from.

Osbourne spent the year with his family in quarantine. But he plans to return to his music in 2022 by finishing out his tour.