There are few people who have had more of an influence on music history than Ozzy Osbourne and Geezer Butler. Through their work in Black Sabbath, the pair pioneered the heavy metal sound that continues to resonate 45 years later. The proof is in their latest album, “13,” a monster hit for the band.
I had a chance to talk with the pair when they showed up at Universal Studios Hollywood to check out an attraction created around the new album as part of this year’s “Halloween Horror Nights” at the theme park. The scares start Friday night.
Both are excited about the reaction they’re getting from the album.
“We are doing a tour right now and it’s great to see the response that we’re getting. What we are seeing is that fathers, their sons, and their sons are coming to the concerts. They all know the songs. That’s amazing because when I was kid, the simple fact my father liked something, I was like (expletive deleted) it,” Osbourne says. “The fact the younger kids are digging it is amazing.”
These longtime fans have remained loyal despite the fact “13” is the band’s first studio album with Osbourne since 1978’s “Never Say Die!” When I ask if the attention is making the band members feel young again, Butler corrects me by saying it’s “keeping the band young.”
Butler explains that what keeps the band young is that they feel like they have a high standard to hit because of the fans who have remained loyal over the decades.
“This is a God-given gift and what we are here to do and we are happy to do it,” Butler says.
Both band members believe their place in music history — just like the way the new album came together so perfectly — was just something destined to happen. The band — that originally also included guitarist Tony Iommi and drummer Bill Ward — were just four friends who lived within a few blocks of each other in Birmingham who got together to play music. They were turned down by six record labels before finally finding someone who would let them do the music the way they wanted to do it.
It’s that individuality that Osbourne sees missing in so many young artists these days.
“Sharon does all these talent shows and she will come home and tell me about this great singer. They are good but they don’t have any personality. They’ve got no character. They sing great, but they haven’t got that extra bit. I don’t see that extra bit in very many people these days,” Osbourne says.
Osbourne and Butler agree that if they were starting Black Sabbath today, they would never play their first show because the way of operating these days is for bands to be refined to the point they fit a very commercial mold. That’s something Black Sabbath never allowed happen and never will.
They just keep rocking despite the naysayers. Osbourne and Butler have seen all of the reviews that have called them “aging” and “senior citizen” rockers. Osbourne’s got one thing to say to that: (expletive deleted) off!.”
The combination of the reaction to the new tour from the fans, the creation of the theme park attraction and the success of the new album have made Osbourne a very happy man.
“For what ever it’s worth, I can die a happy man now because the last album I did didn’t feel right for ending my time with Black Sabbath. This is the cherry on the cake for me. I would like to say we would do another album at least. But, the way I look at it, I don’t want to force it,” Osbourne says.
He adds that he would like to do an album with original drummer Bill Ward who wasn’t on “13” because of a contract dispute.
For more information on the Black Sabbath-inspired maze at Universal Studios Hollywood’s “Halloween Horror Nights” go to HalloweenHorrorNights.com/hollywood.