Full Name: John Michael Osbourne
Date of Birth: December 3rd 1948
Place of Birth: Birmingham, England
Parents: Jack and Lillian Osbourne
Siblings: 2 brothers, Paul and Tony - 3 sisters Jean, Iris and Gillian
The Early Years
John Michael Osbourne was born on December 3rd, 1948 in an industrial town in England where he and his five siblings, mother and father, lived in a 2 bedroom house. To say money was tight would be an understatement.
His family was in poor financial shape, though Ozzy's father worked nights in a steel plant while his mother worked days in a car assembly plant assembling electrical circuits. The family had no car, and very little money or food. Ozzy determined at an early age that he would change this. The Birmingham lifestyle was one where the men worked hard all day, and then go to the pub to drink and play darts, staggering home later to eat and sleep and get up to another day of the same. For the Osbournes it was no different. While the Beatles were singing about flower power and love, Birmingham residents saw a different reality in their lives - life was hard. Plain and simple.
While in school the other students called 'John' "Ozzy" or "Oz-brain", because of his last name. Ozzy is how he would be known to the world later, and for the rest of his life. Apparently he became so detached from his real name that he would fail to answer to it.
Although Ozzy was considered somewhat of a rebel in school, he did take part in many school activities. He participated in school opera-plays such as H.M.S Pinafore, The Mikado, and The Pirates of Penzance, the early signs of his desire to entertain.
Ozzy disliked school, and so didn't do very well in it. He wanted out as soon as he could, and left when he was 15. His parents argued a lot, and most arguments were about money, so Ozzy thought he would rectify the situation by leaving school and getting a job, his first one being a plumber's assistant. He would hold several jobs over the next few years, from toolmaker's apprentice to killing cows in a slaughterhouse. None of his jobs brought him satisfaction, and eventually he thought that perhaps there was more money to be made illegally. He became involved in some petty theft and break and enters, but wasn't very successful at this either, usually getting caught.
His first time in jail was for break and enters. He was given a fine, but couldn't pay it, and so was sent to Birmingham's Winson Green Prison for three months. He did time there again later for assaulting a police officer - punching him in the face. It was in Winson Green Prison where he tattooed the now famous letters O-Z-Z-Y across his left knuckles, doing so with a sewing needle and graphite.
Ozzy was determined to stay out of jail. Earlier, when he was fourteen, he had been in a band named 'The Black Panthers', and he decided to try music as a career. It had to be a more productive venture than crime. The Beatles were gaining popularity at an amazing pace, they were a major influence on Ozzy as he built his objective of singing for a living. He began to look for bands to join and soon found one named "Music Machine" who were in need of a singer, as their regular vocalist was ill. Ozzy filled in, attracted to the traveling and wild sides of the lifestyle. Later he joined a band called "Approach", but quit shortly after, disliking the band.
After leaving "Approach" he decided to call himself "Ozzy Zig", placing an ad in the local paper and music shop which read "Ozzy Zig requires gig. Owns own PA." Another 18 year old (Terence 'Geezer' Butler) saw Ozzy's ad on a shop bulletin board looked him up. The two then decided to form a band named "Rare Breed" which did two shows and then disbanded.
Ozzy's old schoolmate (whom he had never gotten along with) was teaming up with an 18 year old truck driver named William Ward. They had begun to form a band of their own (The Rest) and recruited a singer named Chris Smith. The band moved north to Carlisle, renamed themselves "Mythology" and gained a large following. They played mainly blues and were inspired much by groups like The Yard birds, Cream, The Beatles and John Mayal.
Mythology eventually split up; Iommi and Ward returned to Birmingham and ran across Ozzy's advertisements in the music shop. Iommi hoped strongly that this was not the same 'Ozzy' that he had so disliked in school, but of course it turned out to be the one and the same. They decided that it would not be a good idea to try to start a band together, given their dislike for one another, but Tony did later supply Ozzy and Geezer with a drummer - Bill Ward. Ward was at Iommi's place when Ozzy and Geezer approached him, and Ward agreed to join as the bands drummer if Iommi could also join. And so the group began to form, with a slide guitar player named Him Phillips and a sax player, they returned to Carlisle where Iommi and Ward had been enjoying some success previously. the group wasn't happy as a six piece band however, and in order to be rid of what were considered to be two unnecessary members, they broke up. Regrouping as a foursome that consisted of Ozzy, Iommi, Ward and Butler.
The group learned eighteen songs their first week together as a foursome and Ozzy renamed the band "Polka Tulk Blues" apparently after a can of talcum powder, though some say that the name came from a Pakistani clothing store named 'Polka Tulk Trading Company'. Iommi was now the lead guitar player, and so Geezer Butler switched to playing bass guitar. The group couldn't afford a new bass guitar, so they simply removed two of the strings and re-tuned to. Another name changed occurred, and the group was soon know as "Earth".