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Ozzy still ready for the challenge of being Ozzy

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By Rege Behe
Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010
 

Ozzy Osbourne has been the subject of more parodies than most sitting presidents. He's variously portrayed as the intemperate rock star, the guy who bit the head off a bat during a concert, or the hapless father at odds with his family on the reality show "The Osbournes."

But during a recent teleconference to promote Ozzfest, which arrives Thursday at the First Niagara Pavilion in Burgettstown, Osbourne projects a different image. Sure, he's sometimes hard to understand, but that's only because of his Brummie accent, the regional dialect particular to natives of Birmingham, England. He's cogent, thoughtful and most importantly, sober.

The latter condition is a relatively new state for the 61-year-old musician, one he admits he wasn't keen to embrace.

"When I first started to get sober, I thought, 'Well, how can I enjoy music without drugs or alcohol in my system?' " he says. "And I had to come to a decision where I'd get help ..."

A clean and sober Ozzy seems like an amusement park without the roller coasters. But Osbourne doesn't really miss the attendant drama that comes with substance abuse. With a new album, "Scream," a new healthier regimen and perhaps a new sense of purpose, he sounds revitalized.

Just don't expect any mischief with Motley Cure, who joined with Osbourne in 1984 for "one of the most intense tours I ever did," he says. "I don't think that it's going to be as it was, I mean, in the respect of getting loaded and all that (stuff). I don't do that anymore, you know."

But despite past foibles and misadventures, he never took live performances for granted.

"When everything is in the right place and it's going well and my voice is on form, you know, and the crowd is giving me some craziness .... when it's going great, there's nothing in the world to come anywhere near -- love, sex, drugs, there's nothing can touch it," he says. "But at the other end of the spectrum, when it's going bad, there's nothing worse, as bad as that. The challenge is still there for me."

With Ozzfest, however, all Osbourne basically does is show up. When asked about selecting the bands on the tour, he says son Jack takes care of that detail. Asked about any new innovations with his stage show, and he replies, "I ask Sharon (his wife) what I got to do."

But Osbourne is being pro-active in one area that means the world to him. Osbourne recently stated that he'd be in favor of reuniting with original Black Sabbath members Tommy Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward.

"We're talking and that's a good sign," he says."We're not at war with each other ... I was speaking to Bill Ward last night. I've got to speak to the other two. But it was in the last attempt where we just all met without saying anything to each other (after) quite a few years. I'm trying to get things done right, talking at least. I can't give any dates, 'cause I don't know anything. I don't know whether they want to do it with me, or whatever, but I'm starting to feel (things) ease up for it. To be honest with you, I would love to do a killer Black Sabbath album. It would make my life, my whole thing, round up perfectly for me.'

There is one other thing Osbourne would like to accomplish before his voice deserts him or before he's too old to care: He'd like to have a No. 1 record in the United States, something that eluded him even in the halcyon days of Sabbath. And if conditions are right, Osbourne might even try to reinvent himself.

"I'd like to get a fictitious band name and do something completely different than heavy music, you know," he says. "(Do) something a different way, because being Ozzy Osbourne -- having the track record I've had -- it's very difficult. But if I want to try something like a blues album, it's very difficult to do that. (It would be) 'What the hell is he doing now?' "

Additional Information:

Ozzfest

Featuring: Ozzy Osbourne, Motley Crue, Rob Halford, Devildriver, Nonpoint and others

When: Noon Thursday

Admission: $15-$155

Where: First Niagara Pavilion, Burgettstown

Details: 800-745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com or www.livenation.com

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