After getting booted from Black Sabbath on April 27th 1979, Ozzy Osbourne figured his days were numbered. Expecting his return to England to be the closing chapter of his rags-to-riches story of rock stardom, Osbourne holed up in a hotel and started drinking himself towards the oblivion he was surely consigned to.
But when manager Sharon Arden found Osbourne, she breathed fresh life into the singer (after kicking his arse back into shape), starting him on the road to stardom in his own right and a solo career that has lasted a further 40 years. With 12 studio albums in the rearview mirror (and a 13th on the horizon) and over 180 songs in the bank (including collaborations with everyone from Alice Cooper and Black Label Society to erm, Coal Chamber and Miss Piggy), we asked you to vote for the very best songs in Ozzy’s discography since emerging as a solo artist to help celebrate Ozzy’s 73rd birthay.
There were surprises, upsets and a few close calls, but below you’ll find the 50 greatest Ozzy Osbourne songs of all time…
50. Old LA Tonight (Ozzmosis, 1995)
The 80s were over but Ozzy hadn’t fully let go. The power ballad Mama, I’m Coming Home had provided Ozzy with something of a surprise commercial hit on 1991’s No More Tears, but four years later the landscape was looking very different. For one, Ozzy had retreated into semi-retirement after the conclusion of the No More Tours run and while the singer didn’t stay gone long the magic was so much harder to capture a second time round. Old LA Tonight makes an admirable effort nonetheless, guitarist Zakk Wylde chucking some neoclassical spins into his solo that harkened back to the time when power ballads ruled the world.
49. Tomorrow (Ozzmosis, 1995)
Harkening back to his days in Black Sabbath, there is something decidedly Planet Caravan about the intro to Tomorrow (not hurt by the fact Ozzy’s Sabbath band-mate Geezer Butler was playing in his solo band at the time). But when the song kicks in its pure Ozzy solo record bliss, the singer delivering one of his most forceful vocal performances. Part-written by production duo Duane Baron and John Purdell who had helmed Ozzy’s previous record No More Tears, the song evokes the revivalist energy that had reinvented Ozzy for the 90s – saving his career in the process.
48. Bloodbath In Paradise (No Rest For The Wicked, 1988)
Ozzy was heading into slow decline by the end of the 80s, particularly where his health was concerned. In spite of this, moments of rock’n’roll glory still shine through on 1988’s No Rest For The Wicked, the album that introduced Ozzy’s guitar god in waiting, Zakk Wylde. Wylde tackles Bloodbath In Paradise like his life depends on it, strutting and firing pinch harmonics off like there was a half-off sale. It lends a bit of arena rock bombast to an otherwise dark track, Ozzy tackling the Manson murders with a song that surely had parents getting lawyers up on speed-dial.
47. Steal Away (The Night) (Blizzard Of Ozz, 1980)
It’s not so much that Steal Away (The Night) is a lesser song in Ozzy’s canon, just that the material on his solo debut Blizzard Of Ozz remains among the most beloved by fans. Steal Away (The Night) boasts all the hallmarks of Ozzy’s early work – massive choruses, a sense of triumph and some true guitar wizardry by Randy Rhoads, but doesn’t have the sheer colossal breakthrough energy of Crazy Train, I Don’t Know or Mr. Crowley.
46. So Tired (Bark At The Moon, 1983)
When So Tired was chosen as the second single from Bark At The Moon in 1983, the decision proved unpopular, particularly considering the album’s title track caught the singer at his most demonic (albeit in a hammy, b-movie kind of way). Even so, So Tired‘s symphonic swells help it elevate its status among Ozzy’s other power ballad fare, lending a sense of grandeur that whilst perhaps not on the level of fellow Brummies ELO still showed a sense for the theatrical that served the singer so well in those early years.
45. Scary Little Green Men (Ordinary Man, 2020)
On the whole, 2020’s Ordinary Man is an uncharacteristically sombre offering from Ozzy, the singer grappling with his mortality in ways that you can’t help but compare to David Bowie’s Blackstar or Johnny Cash’s The American Recordings. The inclusion of songs like Eat Me and Scary Little Green Men help to off-set the sheer existential dread tackled elsewhere on the record in a typically zany way, Ozzy showing that he still had a glint of mischief in his eye even on his most serious work.
44. Demon Alcohol (No Rest For The Wicked, 1988)
By 1988 Ozzy knew exactly what his downfall looked like. Demon Alcohol reflects the singer’s realisation that he had gone from the PMRC hellraising madman of the early days to a rapidly degenerating drunk who couldn’t control his bowel movements, but alas the realisation alone was not enough to stop his path to self-destruction. Within 12 months of releasing Demon Alcohol Ozzy would be in prison for attempting to strangle wife Sharon, the final straw that pushed him into rehab and to (mostly) abandon the heavy excesses he had imbibed so much throughout the 80s.
43. Centre Of Eternity (Bark At The Moon, 1983)
Still reeling from the death of Randy Rhoads the previous year, Ozzy nonetheless persevered in the creation of 1983’s Bark At The Moon. New guitarist Jake E. Lee does his best to train rolling and Centre Of Eternity isn’t completely removed from the tone and pace Ozzy had picked up on his first two solo efforts. Even so, much like with Steal Away (The Night), there is a sense that Centre Of Eternity feels more ignorable when put against the more well-known hits from that early 80s period.
42. I Ain’t No Nice Guy (Motorhead – March Or Die, 1992)
Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy and Slash walk into a recording studio. It’s not a joke (well, depending on how you feel about ballads), but the actual set-up that saw Motorhead record I Ain’t No Nice Guy for their 1992 record, March or Die. Considering the previous collaboration between Ozzy and Lemmy on No More Tears had yielded the likes of Mama, I’m Coming Home, I Don’t Wanna Change The World, Hellraiser and Desire, there was a clear sense of magic to the team-up and this Motorhead ballad managed to recapture the spirit, if only a little.
41. Straight To Hell (Ordinary Man, 2020)
When he puts his mind to it, Ozzy can be a menacing bastard. The line ‘I’ll make you scream/I’ll make you defecate‘ is delivered with more glee than perhaps was necessary, but the accompanying cackle afterwards seals Straight To Hell as one of the more brilliantly maniacal songs in Ozzy’s contemporary catalogue.