GC: What are the earliest memories you have of your first musical instruments?
Ozzy: My father bought me a small Vox 100-watt PA system, Shure microphone and microphone stand.
GC: In addition to singing, you also play harmonica?
Ozzy: Yes, Lee Oskar harmonicas. I got them from Guitar Center.
GC: Do you shop at Guitar Center?
Ozzy: Yeah, I do. I just bought a Les Paul Jr. from there a couple of weeks ago. My two daughters also bought Guitars there. If you want a guitar, you go to Guitar Center.
GC: Let's talk about the writing process. Has it changed for you over the years?
Ozzy: It just comes to me. For this new album I have coming out, I used ProTools. No tape whatsoever. It was unbelievable. I never thought the day would come when I'd be singing in the control room to a playback. My early days seem like another life.
GC: Where do the song ideas come from?
Ozzy: Very often I'll come up with a melody line or an idea. Then, I'll give it to the band that I have at the time. Sometimes Zakk (Wylde, Ozzy guitarist) will come up with a riff.
GC: It sounds like the guitar player is a critical part of your songwriting.
Ozzy: When I did the Black Sabbath reunion tour I was thinking to myself, "How did we ever get this (music) together?" We'd get something going and then go somewhere else. We'd change into seven different rhythms in one song. Tony Iommi, for whatever it's worth, is a really underrated guitar player. Like with "Ironman," a classic riff that's not that complicated, but makes you want to pick up the guitar and play.
GC: Do you write when you're on the road?
Ozzy: Sometimes I do. I don't want to sing too much on a day off, though. A show is a different kind of thing then when I'm in the studio.
GC: Do you have a home studio?
Ozzy: No. I'm not a studio buff. I'm not a producer. I like working with a team and every album is different. My street-level mentality has to be pretty good because I don't understand a lot of what I'm doing technically. But, that can be an advantage in coming up with new ideas. One thing I can say is that I always have the last word.
GC: What would you say are your three favorite songs you've written?
Ozzy: Oh, I really can't say. Definitely "Paranoid." Definitely "Ironman." There's a song on my new album called "Dreaming" which I'm really, really happy about. I've never solely written anything. I've either co-written with a band or with a member of the band. If you were to ask me the worst thing I'd written, I could tell you the one I like the least easier than I could tell you the one I like the best. It's fair to say you can possibly find the worst song I've written on the Ultimate Sin album. I don't think anyone goes into the studio with the intention of making a bad record, but it was like, "Liberace takes acid" at that point.
GC: With any career as long as yours, there are bound to be ups and downs.
Ozzy: I've had a very charmed career. People think I must be tired of playing "Paranoid" because I've been playing it for 35 years. But, that's one of those songs that I never get tired of playing. When I get on the road with my own band and try to do my own thing, I find out that there are still kids that want to hear the Sabbath stuff. If I don't play songs from my album that's out and some of the old stuff, then it's disappointing. I try to look at it from a fan's point of view and give them what they want.
GC: Ozzfest has done a great job of giving people what they may not know they want, spotlighting a lot of new music.
Ozzy: That's another wonderful surprise in my life, but it really should be called the Sharon Osbourne and Family tour because of all the bands they come to me with. It's really amazing when the media says this music is over. I watched Slipknot and thought, "These guys really know what they're doing." It resembles what's been done before because it has loud guitars, but this is new metal.
GC: Was being a musician something you always wanted to be?
Ozzy: When I was in school, it really wasn't school. I suffered from A.D.D. and dyslexia, as do my children. So, looking at the blackboard was like reading Chinese for me. It was very embarrassing. I used humor and singing to get by. I left school went to get a trade. For an apprenticeship, I wrote down "plumber." When I thought about it, I realized the only time a plumber works in England is when the pipes burst in the winter. Well, I hate the cold, so that didn't last too long. My first musical job was tuning car horns at a factory. When I got into a band, it was just my idea of fun. Low and behold, we made our first record and I haven't looked back since.
GC: So was it the thought of being a plumber that pushed you towards music?
Ozzy: The biggest break in my life came when The Beatles hit. They totally sucked me in and I thought, "That's my way out, my music." I used to fantasize, as all kids do, about Paul McCartney marrying my sister and all that crazy stuff. That set me off into music and my first gig ever, at the fire station in my hometown.
GC: You've done some guest appearances on other people's records, from Lita Ford to Busta Rhymes. How does something like that happen and do you have any coming up?
Ozzy: With Lita Ford, I had a song idea, what became "Close My Eyes Forever," with a melody and a few scratchy words. Lita liked the song and asked me to finish it. So, I flew to England and finished writing it. Then, she asked that I sing it with her, and I had to fly there again. I was flying more than a pilot. Then, I had to come back from a holiday to do the video. That's the downside of side projects; all the promotion. Busta Rhymes is a trip. The rap world is totally different, not very rock and roll. But, Busta Rhymes was nothing but a gentleman, a really good guy to be around. I don't have any side projects coming up, but I just did something for the new Rob Zombie album called "Lion Head."
GC: Can you talk about what the word luck means to you?
Ozzy: I think there is such a thing as luck. I also think there is such a thing as destiny. Take when Randy Rhoads got killed in a plane. I know, without a shadow of doubt, that if I was awake at the time I would've gone on the plane with him, but I was still asleep. I mean, it's really been an incredible journey, the way my life has gone.