My Birmingham: Ozzy Osbourne Gets Nostalgic About His Brummie Roots

'I could have gone any way - I could have been a burglar.'

As famous Brummies go, they don’t get much more famous than Ozzy Osbourne.

The Prince Of Darkness has been in the business for nearly 50 years now, and while he has lived the life of a rock star, touring the globe with Black Sabbath and being part of reality TV’s most infamous family, he has never forgotten where he came from.

A proud Birmingham native, the 69-year-old has fond memories of growing up in Aston in the north east of the city, as one of six children to his factory-worker mother and tool maker father.

Here, Ozzy reveals how Birmingham shaped him and helped him achieve success as part of one of the world’s biggest heavy metal bands, and explains why his hometown was the perfect place to play his last-ever gig with Sabbath last year.

The person who owns my childhood house rents my room out for £400 a night...

“My address was 14 Lodge Road, Aston, Birmingham, which was a little place - it’s still there!

“I’ve been back to that house a few times over the years and I can’t believe there were eight of us living in a two-and-a-half bedroom house. It is tiny! I have wardrobes bigger in my house.”

I went back 20 years ago, it was exactly the same - even the tiles...

“When I was a kid, my dad saved his pennies up for a bathroom, and it was done very dodgy. The damp course was really bad. He got these yellow and white tiles and they kept falling off, but it was his life’s ambition to get this damp thing under control. So when I went back to the house, it was exactly the same, but when I went into the bathroom, the tiles were still up! I thought, ‘you old bastard’.

“He was working on these bloody tiles forever and would get so pissed off with it, but he won in the end! He finally did it!”

I used to love going to derelict houses and building dens...

“We did all kinds of things like get an old oil drum and a bit of tarpaulin and you’ve got a den.”

“It was post-war (I was born in 1948), so there was lots of air-raid shelters, lots of redevelopment, but kids used to play in bombed buildings. It is completely different now.”

We had nothing at all...

“We never had a car, we never went on holiday. Money was scarce but we got on the best we could.”

I could have been a burglar...

“People ask if I have any regrets and would I change anything, and of course we all have regrets, but I wouldn’t change anything because I believe in fate. I could have gone any which way - I could have been a burglar.

“I tried my hand at all sorts of things, but I knew that it was music that was going to change my life.

“Someone asked me what the best gift I’ve ever had was, and I thought about things Sharon has bought me, but then it dawned on me - my father went into debt to buy me a PA system. If he hadn’t have done that, I wouldn’t be sitting talking to you now.”

Ozzy in his early Black Sabbath days
Ozzy in his early Black Sabbath days

I started out playing tiny bars in the city...

“What we would do, we would go to this club, we’d have a band full of equipment, because sometimes the band wouldn’t turn up and we’d stand in. We did it at this place where Jethro Tull was supposed to turn up and he didn’t, so we got up and did a gig.

“There was this place called Henry Blues House and our manager used to have a Tuesday night deal there. We’d jam and do blues and it was just across the road from the Albany Hotel.”

After I got successful, I moved out of Birmingham and went to Staffordshire...

“I tried living there but it didn’t work out because my ex was living up the road, so I moved down south.”

Birmingham has changed ethnically quite a lot...

“I went to my junior school to do a thing about education a while back, and the school is still there, but the inter-racial divide was 90:10 - now it’s the other way around. It’s changed ethnically quite a lot, and it’s part of our culture now, you know?”

The Bullring isn’t The Bullring to me...

“It’s completely different. When I went up there a while ago, it was like something out of a ‘Doctor Who’ episode.

“I don’t like change. When my wife changes things at home, I’ll go, ‘what happened to the old one? What was wrong with it?’. I like things to stay as they are, but that’s not really a realistic look at life. Birmingham has changed but everything changes.”

Ozzy is not a fan of the new Bullring
Ozzy is not a fan of the new Bullring
PhotoPlus Magazine via Getty Images

I was totally honoured to get my star on the Birmingham Walk Of Stars...

“I felt like I’d made it at that point.

“When I was a kid, there used to be this one shop in Birmingham that they’d make boots in. It was always a desire of mine that if ever I made anything of myself, I’d go in and get a pair. And eventually, I got a pair. So when I was standing on the star, I thought, ‘wow, I’ve got the boots AND the star!’. It was great. I always think of my mum and dad.”

Ozzy was awarded a star on Birmingham's Walk Of Stars in 2007
Ozzy was awarded a star on Birmingham's Walk Of Stars in 2007

The final Black Sabbath show at the NEC was really emotional...

“It was a befitting end to a great experience. We started out playing bars and what have you in Birmingham and we ended in Birmingham. It was a really nice, romantic way to end. It was a magical night.”

Birmingham has so much talent...

“John Bonham and Robert Plant come from the Midlands area, there’s Slade, Roy Wood, Stevie Windwood, The Moody Blues, Black Sabbath, The Move, Jeff Lynne, ELO - it was one after the other.

“What gets me is a lot of people go on about the Liverpool thing, but Birmingham had so much talent. But they didn’t get the same reaction like they did in Liverpool.”

Ozzy on stage with Black Sabbath
Ozzy on stage with Black Sabbath
Frazer Harrison via Getty Images

I’d love to spend more time in the UK...

“The reason why we live in LA is because our children live there. I keep saying that I want to spend as much time living here as in LA, but it’s the children we are there for. Sometimes, when we have a family feud, I’ll go, ‘when does the next plane go home?’. It’s just where the kids are.”

I’m so proud to be a Brummie...

“Birmingham has shaped me because that’s where I’m from. I had no other choice than to be a Brummie - it’s great.”

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