The only punk band Ozzy Osbourne has ever liked

When Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath burst onto the scene, it wasn’t just a new band making good music, but it was a cultural movement. Black Sabbath gave a voice to the working class, tapping into things that people didn’t sing about and bringing forward a riff-heavy and low-rumbling sound. They were labelled as the first heavy metal band, a genre directly linked to punk, but what is the Prince of Darkness’s opinion on the genre?

Punk was also branded as a style of music that gave a voice to the working class. The sound was raw, done with very little investment and spoke truth to corruption during a time when being controversial in mainstream music was particularly frowned upon. As such, there was a lot of comparison between heavy metal and punk, and even though the finished products weren’t reflective of one another, what people were drawn to about the genres were similar.

Osbourne never had much of an opinion of punk music, not necessarily because he didn’t like how it sounded, but because of how heavily branded it became almost instantaneously. He puts this down to the fact that whenever people hear something new rather than enjoy it, they immediately have to assign a label to it.

He said, “Black Sabbath are not a musical band. In fact, the band nearly died because we got branded as heavy metal. I don’t understand that. What’s heavy metal supposed to mean? People in dive boots? It’s the trendies that screw everything up by giving things labels. It’s like the punk movement. It was a great idea, tremendous.”

Osbourne continued, “But it was cheap to manufacture and a cheap return for the record companies. In the end, they were forgetting what they were putting out. I don’t like being branded. I don’t think I’m a star. I’m a rock and roll singer. I only let it influence me once – I used to believe what I read in the press. But not any more.”

Due to his disdain towards how punk was treated, Osbourne has never paid the genre much attention. That being said, because the original sound and idea weren’t far from what Sabbath believed in, he is a fan of one of the first punk records made, as he cites Sex Pistols as a band he particularly admires.

“Punk was a spinoff of Sabbath,” he said, “It was anti-establishment. The only band of them I liked was the Sex Pistols; that one album was great, it captured something. But Johnny Lydon, whatever his name is, wants to stop talking and make some fucking music.”

One of the traps of music is the industry’s desire to harness something new and mass-produce it. In a sense, that’s what happened to punk, and when the genre got bogged down in hype, the result was that bands were no longer a reflection of what they stood for. Still, some of the early work is a proper personification of sonic rebellion, so it’s no surprise that Osbourne enjoys that.

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