Ozzy Osbourne’s favourite John Lennon song

He might not be renowned for his poetic eulogising, but Ozzy Osbourne may well have offered up the most captivating appraisal of The Beatles’ mammoth impact that any musician has put forward. “The only way I can describe it, is like this,” he told Blabbermouth in 2019, “Imagine you go to bed today and the world is black and white and then you wake up, and everything’s in colour. That’s what it was like!’ That’s the profound effect it had on me.”

From the moment he first heard ‘She Loves You’, Ozzy wanted to become a musician. The light-bulb song illuminated a brighter future for the Brummie at a time when he really needed it. He was 14, and suicidal tendencies had plagued his youth, the result of sexual abuse that he suffered at the hands of school bullies when he was 11 years old. Factory life in Birmingham’s heavy metal industry beckoned, and he even served six weeks in prison for shoplifting in an attempt to earn a dime, but The Beatles arrived with a bang and forecast a very different heavy metal future for Ozzy.

From that moment on, he wanted to be a rock star. However, he didn’t just want to be any old rock star. A point that has frequently been lost amid tales of his manic stunts is that Black Sabbath were a band of the people. While satanism and other mythical tenets might skew this, the band pretty much invented heavy metal as a way to offer the factory workers that they once worked alongside – and lost fingers alongside in the case of Tony Iommi – a chance to cut loose without having to pretend that the world was some sort of hippie utopia.

Throughout his career, Ozzy always kept this in mind. The guiding influence for that pursuit was John Lennon. Thus, it speaks volumes that when Ozzy was asked to name the song that stands out as his singular ‘inspiration’ by HMV, he lauded the former Beatle’s 1970 release ‘Working Class Hero’ as his firm favourite.

Ozzy singled out the following verse: “As soon as you’re born they make you feel small, by giving you no time instead of it all, til’ the pain is so big you feel nothing at all, a working class hero is something to be”. Given Ozzy’s own troubled upbringing and the journey his life would take, that verse holds a particular profundity for the Black Sabbath star.

Even years later, Lennon’s message still held a special place for Ozzy. Recalling the day he was murdered while discussing the 50th anniversary of Imagine with Forbes, the Birmingham singer commented: “The world stopped for me. I can’t even describe how I felt.”

He continued: “But the amount of joy and hope that he gave people was just remarkable.”

In many ways, this typifies Ozzy’s own outlook on artistry. More than most, he recognises its importance and potential, but he has never stopped that from getting in the way of having fun, too.

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