The album Ozzy Osbourne has played “thousands of times”

The psychedelic ramblings of John Lennon have inspired countless musicians. One of the most celebrated songwriters to come out of the 1960s, both his solo ventures and his spell with The Beatles provided crucial inspiration for heavy metal’s own Ozzy Osbourne.

It was Lennon’s 1971 album Imagine that Ozzy fell in love with. The pivotal follow-up to John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, the record took the style Lennon built with The Beatles, set it to Phil Spector’s wall of sound production, and soared to number one.

“I must have played this album thousands of times over the years,” Ozzy admitted during an interview with Forbes. “The songs, ‘Imagine’, ‘Jealous Guy’, ‘Gimme Some Truth’ are just timeless, which is the sign of what a great songwriter John Lennon was. Lennon was a poet, a rebel, and had an incredible passion, all of which are so evident on this landmark album.”

The idea of creating timeless music with a rebellious edge and immense commercial viability was a familiar road for Ozzy, too, and although Black Sabbath’s music could never be accused of being pop-adjacent, the singer often covered the Lennon songs that were.

Ozzy’s own track ‘Dreamer’, from 2001’s Down to Earth, was directly inspired by ‘Imagine’. Lennon was a vocal advocate for peace, tackling rampant materialism and harmony in the song. In Ozzy’s track, his take was suitably darker, touching on the destruction of the earth in a typically Sabbath-esque, dystopian way.

He was such a fan of The Beatles that he admitted their sound crept into his own without meaning to. “Since I’m such a fan of The Beatles, I unconsciously come up with melodies similar to theirs,” he said in an episode of Ozzy & Jack’s World Detour.

“It’s not that I was trying to write the next ‘Imagine’, but I care about the earth and its places and about people, violence, and war. So it would be good if we could all get along, for we would have a much better world.” Throughout that same episode, Ozzy shed some light on his deep personal connection to Lennon.

“I wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for The Beatles,” he said. “I come from a very poor family, and when I was a young boy they captured my heart. When I first listened to them, it was as if all my dreams had showed up right before me”. Osbourne also mentioned that meeting Paul McCartney was like “meeting God” and seemed visibly uncomfortable at Lennon’s memorial in Cuba’s John Lennon Park.

“I met Rin­go and Paul, but I never met John, although I would have loved to,” he shared. “I feel sad when I see his image in some memorial because it reminds me that his being shot was a very cowardly act. It is very sad that a man is murdered who gave people so much pleasure with his music.”

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