5 of our Favourite Ozzy Osbourne Vocal Performances
Published on 03 December 2020
There are few faces and even fewer voices quite as recognisable as the bat eating, Prince of Darkness himself, Mr Ozzy Osbourne. As far as frontmen go, there aren't many who can match his charisma, individuality, legacy and sheer madness and we absolutely love him for it. Throughout his years in Black Sabbath and as a solo performer, his vocals laid the foundation of metal and his chaotic and electrifying stage presence set a standard for all heavy bands that followed. As the Ozz Man turns 72, (Happy Birthday Ozzy!) it seems only right that we recap some of his very finest vocal performances. Check out our top 5 below:
Black Sabbath - N.I.B. (1970)
Black Sabbath's debut album left an eerie, demonic mark on rock music that could never be removed so we simply had to start there. Opening with a bass solo, the sinister licks and lyrics of N.I.B. are the perfect storm with Ozzy's wailing vocals front and centre. The track was written by Geezer Butler from the point of view of Lucifer himself so it's already pretty haunting but Ozzy's signature snarl is what really sells it. This track still sounds so fresh and powerful today with incredible performances from each band member. If there's one song to introduce someone to Ozzy as a vocalist, you'd struggle to find another quite this epic. Sheer brilliance straight out of the gate.
Black Sabbath - Snowblind (1972)
Between the release of Black Sabbath and Volume 4, the band had gone from a little known four-piece to the heaviest, most controversial band on the planet with Ozzy at the helm. This was the first Sabbath album they produced themselves and while it meant they were able to really hone in their sound, it was also an absolute riot to record. Rife with drug problems, the studio may have descended into chaos but the album itself is magnificent and has to be regarded among their best. Snowblind was its original title but this was denied by the label because of its references to drugs (three guesses what the song was about...). The track itself is everything that's great about Volume 4 - a sprawling, groovy track with huge vocals and an oddly soulful bridge from a Mr Osbourne who had really discovered what he could do with his voice.
Black Sabbath - Hole in the Sky (1975)
Moving onto a track from album number six, Sabotage - Hole in the Sky is a non-stop rollercoaster that just roooocks. The whole album has quite an aggressive edge to it that Iommi credits to the legal issues the band were having with their former management. This track comes first and what a start it is! Often thought of as Ozzy's greatest vocal performance with Sabbath, he shrieks and wails us through the song with a range that's seriously impressive. It's easy to think of Ozzy as more of a performer but make no mistake, he can really sing. Transforming Geezer's lyrics into something alive and seriously vicious, this is as rocking as Sabbath get and Ozzy is an essential ingredient.
Ozzy Osbourne - Mr Crowley (1980)
Moving things forward 5 years, Ozzy's solo career has kicked off and he's traded Iommi's slow, evil riffs to the unforgettable shred sound of Randy Rhoads. You've got to give it to him, he has a knack for working with the right guitarists, doesn't he!? Ozzy had started experimenting with writing lyrics during Sabotage and Mr Crowley is one of his greatest efforts. After reading a book about Aleister Crowley and finding a set of Tarot cards in the studio where they were recording, the band wrote the track about the occultist, cooking up something seriously evil that would go down in history. From the chilling organ intro, to Rhoads crushing guitar parts, to Ozzy's howled vocals, this is just sheer metal brilliance. We may be here to talk about Ozzy but pay attention to that solo!
Ozzy Osbourne - No More Tears (1991)
Taking things forward considerably to the early nineties, Ozzy's voice remained as strong as ever and even today sounds pretty sharp for his age! No More Tears is the 5th track of the album of the same name and features Zakk Wylde on guitar with some squealing licks and big riffs that set off the vocals flawlessly. The track may feature big '80s sounding production but don't worry, it was written about a serial killer so the Prince of Darkness hadn't lost his edge! At just under 7 minutes 30 in length, it's a true epic in every sense and Ozzy really pushes his range throughout. This is up there with our favourite performances from the legendary frontman as it showcases not only how strong his voice was but how consistent it was too! Think about it, this is over 20 years on from his debut and we can only imagine the toll that his lifestyle took on his body. Pure raw natural talent and an unforgettable style, there will never be another quite like Ozzy.
Love or hate Ozzy's distinctive voice, there's no looking past just how much of an impact it has made on music. As the frontman, powerhouse and driving force of early metal, he's secured a place as an icon in rock history that cannot be touched. With all of the shenanigans he was involved in, it's no surprise his personality often distracts people from his music but we're firm believers that he's one of the greatest. What are your favourite tracks of his? We'd love to hear your thoughts!