Ozzy, Yes. Might These Rockers Have Neanderthal DNA?

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.

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Craig Hlavaty
Contact: Craig Hlavaty