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Ozzy Osbourne: "I'll Never Say Never Again" (7/29/2006)

One of the things that Ozzy Osbourne has learned in the course of his eventful, unconventional life, is that physical and mental health are intertwined.

He won't express it that way, of course.

But that's the gist of his comments on the way his notoriously unreliable voice has held up on the current Ozzfest tour, which also features groups like System of a Down, Hatebreed, Disturbed and Avenged Sevenfold, and comes to Randall's Island in New York on Saturday, and the Tweeter Center in Camden on Aug. 4.

"For the last few years," says Osbourne, 57, "I'd do a show, and my voice would blow out, and I'm going, 'This is f------ crazy.' So at the end of the day, I went to my throat doctor. I said, 'What's wrong with me?' He said, 'Nothing.' And I'm going, 'Well, something's got to be wrong.' So, to make a long story short, I went to this doctor who put me on antidepressants. And it's worked.

"It makes sense, that (your voice suffers) if you're wound up and thinking crazy thoughts, or you're depressed."

It's surely also a help that Osbourne has cut down on his vocal workload. He is only participating in about half of this summer's Ozzfest shows (including the New York and Camden dates). And sometimes he is appearing on the smaller, second stage, instead of headlining the main stage.

"I'll go out at 4 o'clock in the afternoon," he says, of the second-stage appearances. "It suits me fine. I play, and I'm home at 7 o'clock."

It's safe to say that no one else has had a career quite like Osbourne.

In the late '60s and early '70s, with his dark, explosive, often twisted band Black Sabbath, he helped invent heavy metal. After going solo in 1979, he remained a metal icon, and even had some Top 40 hits (1989's Lita Ford duet "Close My Eyes Forever," 1992's "Mama, I'm Coming Home").

Battling various addictions, he also became known for his offstage antics: biting the head off a dove, urinating on the Alamo. Even people who couldn't identify any of his songs knew him as the epitome of the reckless, self-indulgent rock star.

By the mid-'90s, the hits had stopped coming, and his brand of classic-metal had gone out of fashion. Facing irrelevancy, he reinvented himself, in 1996, as the headlining attraction of the Ozzfest tour, and more improbably, in 2002, as the addled anti- "Father Knows Best" figure on the MTV reality series, "The Osbournes."

"I thought everybody knew who I was (before that)," he says. "Then people would come up to me and go, 'You're that guy.' I'd say, 'What guy?' They'd say, 'That guy on that crazy show.'"

He has another new claim to fame this year. He's a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, inducted, with Black Sabbath, in March. He attended the ceremony, even though in years past he has complained about being overlooked, and asked that Black Sabbath not be nominated.

"I was wrong to a point: I hadn't the right to say that," he says. "There are three other members of Black Sabbath. But we got in at the end."

Osbourne played with Black Sabbath on the last two Ozzfest tours, but is on his own this time around, and says he's not sure if that band will ever reunite. He is currently working on a solo album with the help of guitarist Zakk Wylde, a key member of his current touring band.

"I'll never say never again," says Osbourne, who, in 1995, ended one of his retirements with a tour called "Retirement Sucks." "But saying that, when we first came out (with a Black Sabbath reunion), the excitement was huge. Then we brought them back again, and brought them back again, and brought them back again, and people said, 'Oh f- - -, it's Black Sabbath again.'

"I have nothing but love and praise for those guys. I think the (time of) slagging each other off is long gone, which I'm glad about, and I wish them all well. And, if (wife-manager) Sharon (Osbourne) says, 'We've got a gig here, and they want Sabbath' ... I suppose I'll do it."


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