Ozzy Osbourne. Even now — nearly four decades after he first blasted out of Britain with Black Sabbath — the very name of this hard-partying hedonist is so synonymous with decadence, a North Dakota sheriff recently used it to lure, then arrest, 40 perps who believed they were attending an exclusive pre-show Ozzy party.
But Osbourne, who plays the Oracle Arena in Oakland on Sunday, promptly issued a statement condemning the incident. Today, he says, he’s no longer that same riotous rake.
“I mean, when I was with Sabbath, all they ever thoughtwe sang about was Satan, which was not the case,” says the longtime solo artist, whose new album is “Black Rain.”
“And people say to me ‘Ozzy, you can’t walk through that shopping mall. Do you realize who you are?’ But I don’t. I’m just me. I don’t drink, smoke, take drugs or sleep with groupies. I’m really quite boring.”
The Grammy-winning singer and star of MTV’s “The Osbournes” has found an unusual way to blow off steam. As a child, he recalls being so dyslexic that classmates would taunt him. “That’s why when I first drank alcohol, I drank alcoholically, because even though I didn’t like the taste of it, I loved what it did for my feelings,” says Osbourne, 60, who despised reading so much he turned to a logical creative outlet — painting.
“And the reason I started doing art was, I didn’t like going out of my hotel room on tour, so I’d order in my booze, get loaded, and just doodle, then color the things in. Now I have these pens with a brush at one end and a felt tip at the other, plus an ink-pen set for really thick lines, all in black. So I draw the outline in black and then kind of mess around with it.”
The self-taught stylist likens his work to that of ’60s mainstay Peter Max. He’s completed hundreds of signed, dated pieces. He says, “I always have sketchpads with me, everywhere. My paintings look very childish, like accidental art, but people really go nuts when they see one. But honestly, I don’t do it for financial gain. I do it for me.”
The therapy must be working. “Black Rain” — co-produced with Kevin Sherko in Osbourne’s L.A. home studio — visualizes grim terrain inspired by global warming and the conflict in Iraq.
“We’re all doing the ostrich,” Osbourne says. “We’re all shoving our heads in the sand and waiting for our asses to get blown up. Maybe it’s because I’m sober, maybe it’s because I’m a father of five and a grandfather, but I’m starting to wonder what’s going tobe left of the world for these folks.”
Once show biz slows down for the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Famer — who with his wife Sharon has been presenting the OZZfest tour since 1996 — he wants to get proper art training.
Someday he might do a gallery show, he says, adding, “But maybe after I’m gone, if the art is worth anything, they can sell it then. Someone recently sold a Frank Zappa sketch for a lot of money.
“But since I can’t really write and spell and make interesting entries in my diary, these paintings are kind of like my diary. Truly,” he laughs, name-checking one of his own classic albums, “the diary of a madman!”
IF YOU GO
Ozzy Osbourne and Rob Zombie
Where: Oracle Arena,7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland
When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $47.50 to $76
Contact: (415) 421-8497 or www.ticketmaster.com