If ever more proof was needed that This Is Spinal Tap was the most perfect satire ever made, we have this moment from MTV's smash-hit reality TV series, The Osbournes: Proud wife Sharon is showing off the stage set for Ozzy's Merry Mayhem tour. There are real-live dwarves, face-painted like tribal warriors and dressed in Santa's helper-cum-skeleton suits, and a Santa Claus is nailed to a huge cross backstage. ("Did you know he was a saint?" Ozzy asks, to lead guitarist Zakk Wylde's great amusement. What's even funnier is that Ozzy's right: Santa is in fact Saint Nicholas.) Cut to Ozzy whizzing around the set in his custom-built death sleigh, complete with missile launchers. "They need to get this over to Iraq," Ozzy pronounces, perhaps dimly aware that a war was on somewhere in the Middle East.
Then comes the Tap pièce de résistance, with Sharon showing off the bubble machines she's installed all around the stage. "Bubbles!?!" Ozzy exclaims. "What do I need with fucking bubbles? For God's sake, I'm the fucking Prince of fucking Darkness, Sharon!"
But much of The Osbournes has served to dispel this Luciferian image. The show finds Ozzy defusing sibling rivalries, lovingly tending to (instead of gnawing the heads off) small animals and even lecturing his teens on the evils of booze and drugs. Watching the show, one comes away believing that Ozzy couldn't have known that the bat he guillotined between his teeth was real and not a toy. After all, the man clearly loves dogs, and what is a bat but a winged Pekingese?
But he'll always be the fucking Prince of fucking Darkness to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, notwithstanding his 1992 donation of $10,000 to the famously reverent organization that maintains the Alamo. As is well known, 20 years ago the British rocker emptied his bladder on the monument's grounds. "We have no comment on that," Alamo executive secretary Laura Garcia brusquely told Racket.
As remembered by San Antonio concert promoter Jack Orbin, the man who brought Ozzy to town and bailed him out of jail, here is how the most notorious piddle in Texas history went down. Contrary to rock myth, Sharon Osbourne had not hidden Ozzy's clothes to keep him from parking his butt atop one of the Riverwalk's thousands of barstools. According to Orbin, Ozzy was wearing a dress because he was taking part in a photo shoot for Melody Maker, a British music magazine. Also contrary to rock myth, Ozzy didn't walk right up to the front door and pee on the Alamo intentionally. "He didn't say, 'Hey, everybody, look at me. I'm going to pee on the Alamo,' " says Orbin. "He just wandered off into the bushes where he thought nobody could see him."
Alas for Ozzy, a tourist spotted him and told an Alamo park ranger. The ranger confronted Osbourne, who attempted to escape by climbing the spiraled pillars in the Alamo doorway. San Antonio police brought Ozzy back to earth and caught more than a whiff of alcohol on his breath. Ozzy was charged only with public intoxication -- not public urination, or the more serious desecration of a monument. Orbin bailed him out for a mere $40.
That was when Orbin made a serious tactical error. Ozzy had been blackout drunk. He had no idea what he had done or why he had ended up in jail. "My big mistake was to tell him what he had done," Orbin says. "I told him that peeing on the Alamo was like peeing in the Queen's cup."
The somewhat sobered-up Ozzy responded by turning his drunken blunder into a publicity coup. "I've always wanted to piss on the Alamo," he boasted to the crowd at the sold-out San Antonio Convention Center. "The White House is next."
"That didn't go down well," Orbin says. "There were a lot of boos. Hispanic rock fans don't like that sort of thing. There's a lot of pride and heritage in San Antonio."
A few hundred fans who couldn't get tickets to the show broke windows trying to get in, but Orbin says reports of a riot are greatly overstated, as is the myth that Ozzy was banned from San Antonio.
"The city council passed a resolution, not an ordinance or law, saying, 'Let's don't have Ozzy back,' " remembers Orbin. "That of course got national publicity, and Sharon and her booking agency wanted to keep him out too, which they did for ten years. I kept wanting to bring him back. Finally after ten years I got him back and Ozzy donated $10,000 to the Daughters of the Republic. We gave them the money and said Ozzy was a recovering alcoholic. Then-mayor Wolff welcomed him back officially, and we ended up doing two sold-out shows ten years later."
Orbin, who attended Ozzy's 50th birthday party in L.A. in 1999, has a very high opinion of America's new favorite daddy. "Ozzy really is the ultimate nice guy," he says. "He really needs bodyguards and stuff because otherwise he'd never get anything done. He'd just spend all day talking to whoever approached him. He would wander off and just go about his life."
Another close Lone Star encounter with Ozzy seems much more in keeping with the bumbling old rocker we see on The Osbournes. In Houston on tour in the mid-'90s, Ozzy had a little free time and decided to spend it in Whole Foods and the Alabama Bookstop on the corner of West Alabama and Shepherd.
John Cramer was working that afternoon at Bookstop. Cramer's bands -- the Mike Gunn and more recently, Project Grimm -- were heavily influenced by Osbourne and Black Sabbath. "I've been ripping off Ozzy and Sabbath ever since I was in junior high," Cramer laughingly admits. When the man himself came into the store, Cramer was fetched from the back.
"My co-worker came into the receiving room and just said, 'John: Ozzy!' I went out, and there he was," remembers Cramer. "He had a handler with him and he was kind of shuffling around. He needed some help finding some things, so he just cut in front of this big line at the back register and said, 'I'm not a Nazi, but I would like some books on the Holocaust and some books on VD for my daughter as well.' His handler said, 'Ozzy, there's a big line there,' and he was surprised to see it. He was really apologetic about cutting in line. Anyway, he walked around, signed a few autographs, bought his books and left. Then I heard that his limo promptly got in a wreck."
Ever the family man, that Ozzy. His oldest daughter, Aimee, would have been about 12 or 13 at the time, so one supposes he was trying to scare her into abstinence.
Radney Foster and Gary P. Nunn co-headline the Texas Beer Festival at Garden in the Heights April 26 through 28. P.C. Cowboys, Jason Allen, Clay Blaker, Dub Miller and Dallas's Max Stalling also appear. If you drink enough of the beverages that the fest celebrates, Nunn's "London Homesick Blues" might even sound fresh Those of a bluesy bent will want to head up to Humble on April 27 for Sonny Boy Terry's International Harmonica Cook-off at Cactus Moon. Houston's Terry and Steve "Satch" Krase, Austin's Gary Primich and Walter T. Higgs, and Melbourne, Australia's Collard Greens and Gravy take the stage. Collard Greens recently represented Australia in an international battle of the bands in Memphis and took second place in a field of 50; the band has also won an ARIA award, the Down Under equivalent of a Grammy. The Sunday-afternoon affair takes place from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. and costs $12 Saucer is an odd project. Appearing at the Sidecar Pub on April 26, the Austin supergroup, headed by George DeVore and backed by former members of Cadillac Voodoo Choir, Vallejo and Steamroller, is eschewing its Texas roots rock in favor of a KISS-like extravaganza complete with face paint and loud guitars Tom Waits is set to release two new studio albums -- Alice and Blood Money -- on May 7. But don't expect to find the gravel-voiced trash-can poet coming to Houston or anywhere else in the Lone Star State. Waits has been boycotting Texas ever since bouncers at Austin's La Zona Rosa beat up a member of his road crew in 1999.
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