Last year, Ozzy Osbourne became the first in what is sure to be a long line of musicians and artists to have their genome mapped by scientists. The firm that did the analysis, Knome of Cambridge, Mass., found that Osbourne has a few trace elements of Neanderthal in his genes, which could explain his past ability to ingest massive amounts of drugs and alcohol and survive to his current age of 62.
The solo star and former Black Sabbath front man pulls into Houston tomorrow night with opener Slash (yes, the ex-Guns N' Roses guitarist). Our sister music blog at St. Louis' Riverfront Times, A to Z, gave Ozzy's show up there this past Friday a great review, and captured some of the best photos we have seen of Ozzy in years. Rocks Off needs to step up our game up Tuesday night.
Scientific American interviewed the main scientists working on the project, who concluded that as of yet, there is no conclusive evidence that Ozzy is some sort of genetic leftover with a super- (or quasi-) human tolerance.
Certain elements of Neanderthals' genes, though, may lessen the effects of dopamine on the human system, which could theoretically enable Ozzy to be able to tolerate more dope and booze than, say, a "normal" person. Ozzy isn't normal at all as it is, so it's at least reassuring to know that there may be a medical reason behind his mania.
Anyone who has read any tales about Ozzy's drugging and drinking will attest to his near-kamikaze relationship with the hard stuff. He did as much he could until he passed out or almost died, yet somehow is here in 2011 able to tour and perform nightly.
His tours with Sabbath, the solo jaunt with Motley Crue, and other infamous tours were death marches on Ozzy's system. In his memoir, 2010's I Am Ozzy, the man himself details every stop along the way through his addictions - as much as he can remember, of course. This is a man who snorted ants.
There has never been a shortage of hearty rockers roaming the world in buses, vans and planes, pillaging their way across their careers high on anything and everything. Some of the best have come from England, but the States have had a fair share of terrors.
Many have said that British rockers' constitutions can be chalked up to their varied ancestry, which may also explain the superhuman drug-taking abilities of the first man on our list.
10. Keith Richards: In his devastatingly amazing 2010 autobiography Life, Richards claims he didn't stop using cocaine until 2006, when ordered to stop by his doctors after his emergency brain surgery following a fall. That means that Richards had been doing coke at least two years into his sixties. If they don't get hooked, most people stop at their early twenties.
9. Lemmy Kilmister: This is a man who drinks Jack Daniels and soda like water. He was an avowed speed and coke user for most of the early period of his band Motorhead, and was an acid dealer to Jimi Hendrix in the late '60s while he himself was the bassist for Hawkwind. Today there is no evidence that he has stopped doing anything illicit, and by his own account his doctors have given him a clean bill of health.
8. Dimebag Darrell: Before he was gunned down in 2004, Dimebag was a championship drinker, as if he had to drink so that the world wouldn't explode. Aside from most people, Dime was one of the kindest drunks you would meet it seems. Sebastian Bach wrote a great account of life on the road with Dimebag right here.
7. John Bonham: Yes, booze did kill Bonzo, but before it finally did him in, he was known to drink until he fell over or puked so he could start again. To his credit, he rarely drank before shows. There is even a Facebook group dedicated to his boozing you can join if you dare.
6. Johnny Thunders: It wasn't the love of his life, lady heroin, that ended up killing Thunders. Most claim it was foul play by drug dealers in New Orleans where he passed, or a hidden bout with leukemia. His needle play was so bad that even Keith Richards seemed to be put off by it. A good look at this state can be found in the punk bible, Please Kill Me.
5. Eric Clapton: Clapton was known for his coke and heroin use, which seemed to peak in the early '70s as his musician friends started overdosing. He would end up having a three-year affair with the needle before quitting. Today, Clapton raises money for his treatment facility, Crossroads Centre, in Antigua.
4. Keith Moon: In addition to blowing up toilets with fireworks, Moon did almost any drug he could find. It seems to have started with uppers in the early stage of The Who and accelerated to anything on the table. The sad truth is that he would end up dying after overdosing on prescription drugs meant to wean him off booze.
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3. Michael Jackson: Jackson is perhaps the most recent high-profile drug death in the past few years. The laundry list of drugs he was taking at the time of his death, and apparently had been taking for years, would make fodder for great chapter of a lost Hunter S. Thompson book.
. Nikki Sixx: Anyone who has read Sixx's The Heroin Diaries will tell you that the Motley Crue bassist spent 1987 as a stone-cold junkie on the road, at his mansion, and everywhere he found himself in between. Sixx estimates he spent thousands upon thousands of dollars a week that year on smack alone.
1. Bon Scott: Until it killed him, Scott was booze brought to life. He was seedy, slurry, and brilliant. Sadly he couldn't keep it in check and he choked on his own vomit and died as the band was beginning work in 1980 on what would become Back In Black. Somehow we can't imagine him as an old man.