I was a rebellious kid. I didn’t like commitment, I couldn’t hold a job down. I was always being yelled at by my mother for not bringing any money into the house. I was a bit of a drifter really. I left home but I didn’t really have anywhere to go. I used to doss around on people’s couches. I was a bit of a social butterfly in a working-class environment.
I’m extremely dyslexic but they didn’t understand then what dyslexia was. I went to school, a secondary modern in Birmingham, where there were 49 kids in a class, all boys. The kids used to mess around, smoking behind the toilets. It wasn’t the best if you wanted to be taught anything. I was the crazy guy. I made the big tough guys like me by making them laugh.
I tried to find things I was good at. I tried a bit of burglary but I was no good at that. Fucking useless. I didn’t do any major burglary jobs. It was less than three weeks before I got caught. My dad said to me, that was very stupid. And I did feel very stupid. I didn’t pay my fine and I got put in jail for a few weeks. That was a short, sharp lesson. It certainly curbed my career in burglary.
Do I feel ashamed of things I’ve done? Every day
Someone recently asked me what the best gift I ever got was, and it suddenly dawned on me that if my father hadn’t bought me a microphone when I was 18 I definitely wouldn’t be here now. He saw that I was really interested in popular music. My bedroom wall was covered in pictures of The Beatles. Anything with the word ‘Beatles’ on it was on my wall. So he bought me a microphone and it was shortly after that I met the guys who would become Sabbath. It was the fact that I had my own microphone and PA system that got me in the band. If I hadn’t had them I would never have got the gig.
First it was just me and Geezer [Butler, Black Sabbath bassist]. We put an ad up in a music shop in Birmingham and Tony and Bill [Iommi and Ward, guitarist and drummer] turned up. They’d just been busted for smoking dope in Carlisle with their band Mythology. It all fell apart because back then a drugs bust was major news up and down the country. Now they just give you a kicking. Tony’s face fell when he saw me, he didn’t like me. He was like, ‘Oh no’. But we started jamming. Tony had a reputation in Cumberland, as it was called then, so we got some gigs there. And in Inverness, just over the border in Scotland.
The teenage Ozzy would never believe, not in a million years, he could have the life I’ve had. How did that kid get from living in Aston, Birmingham, to a house in Beverly Hills? I don’t understand it. I’ll never forget one Christmas Eve, my dad said I could stay up late for a treat and I would see the most beautiful woman in the world. And later he put on the TV and it was Elizabeth Taylor reading a poem. The woman my dad thought was the most beautiful woman in the world. Years later I was invited to some charity do and who was I sitting next to – Elizabeth Taylor. I just thought, oh if my dad could only see me now. It was amazing. Unbelievable.