From Shanghai to Sydney and London to LA, Ozzy Osbourne has played some of the world’s biggest venues in front of the biggest crowds but there’s one gig he has set his heart on which so far remains unfulfilled – to do a charity show at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
Imagine that – the legendary wild man of rock bringing his own brand of heavy metal to the wards! “I’ve been wanting to do a charity show there for years,” said Ozzy when he spoke to us exclusively from his home in California. “The hospital is special to me because my son Louis was cared for there when he was sick as a child, so I know how important it is. They do amazing work for kids and families in my home town.”
Ozzy is one of the famous contributors to The Big Hoot which has seen 89 giant owls spring up across Birmingham this summer, each with its own unique look and design. This month the owls will be auctioned in aid of the hospital and are expected to raise at least £500,000 and Ozzy’s ‘bird’ is expected to be the star prize of the sell-off. Ozzy said he was first approached to take part by Steve Hewlett, boss of Retail Birmingham. “He’s a great guy who we’ve known for some time from Birmingham. He’s involved in many projects promoting the city. I was invited to take part in the project and obviously wanted to support the hospital. I didn’t have any specific plans for how the owl would look. I thought I would just let it develop until I was happy with it. I hope everyone is as happy with it as I am.” While a genius with music – and having had the occasional controversial run-ins on stage with a chicken and a bat in the past – Ozzy admits he needed a little help when it came to designing an owl! So, he asked long-time friend, Birmingham artist Graham Frank Wright to help him translate his design thoughts into reality and bring Ozzy’s Owl to life. The two of them kicked around a lot together back in the Seventies when the music was heavy and the partying was even heavier!
“I had a lot of help from Graham, but I was happily involved in the design too,” said Ozzy. The idea was to incorporate the stars, the midnight sky and the silhouette of the Birmingham skyline together with Ozzy’s hands and glasses. The finished 5ft 5in fibreglass sculpture sported the trademark ‘Ozzy’ tattoo across the three talons on its left foot, while the middle claw on its right foot had a smiling face – just like the tattoo Ozzy has on his knee. And as befits the image of the Black Sabbath frontman, the owl has the feel of darkness about it. “The design sort of reminds me of Birmingham at night,” said Ozzy. “I’ve always wanted to do something to help the children’s hospital as children are close to my heart, so this was a great opportunity to give support.” While an adopted son of the US, Ozzy remains a true Brummie from Aston who looks to come back home as often as he can – music, touring and TV reality series with celebrity wife Sharon and family permitting. He continues to be an avid Aston Villa fan, closely following their results and progress.
PRIDE OF BRUM
“I’m a very proud Brummie,” said Ozzy. “I haven’t lived in Birmingham for years but my family still lives there so I keep up with what’s going on and I come to visit from time to time. I’m hoping to visit Birmingham again pretty soon, though there are no fixed plans at the moment.” Ozzy’s love for Birmingham is equally reflecting by the city which recognises him as one of its most important and loved sons. Together with the likes of Sir Lenny Henry, Frank Skinner and fellow rock legend Jeff Lynne, Ozzy has a star on the Birmingham Walk of Stars in Broad Street, and while that may not appear to have the pizzazz of the Hollywood Walk of Fame – where Ozzy also has a star – the accolade from his hometown means just as much, if not more.
IT’S A FACT…
- Before Black Sabbath, Ozzy worked in a slaughterhouse and a car horn factory.
- Total album sales with Black Sabbath and as a solo artist tops 100 million.
- Ozzy has six children, equally split from his two marriages.
- He’s a huge collector of Victorian art.
- He made his famous O-Z-Z-Y tattoo across his knuckles with a lead pencil and a needle while in jail for petty theft.