It’s fairly surprising that Ozzy Osbourne is alive, much less that he and Black Sabbath will headline a gig tonight at Toyota Center. The man has, on more than one occasion, treated his body more like an amusement park than a source of life.
Drug and alcohol abuse. Infidelities. Biting the heads off bats. Urinating on the Alamo. That god-awful reality television show he and family produced around the turn of the decade, one that set forth the template for the likes of Paris Hilton and the Kardashians to get on television and just kinda sit around and be rich. Ozzy’s transgressions are seemingly endless.
And yet, I come today to praise Ozzy, not bury him. I do so because we’re running out of rock stars, and this is a sad thing. Think about it – how many of today’s major mainstream rock bands both pack arenas and stadiums, and do so with even a modicum of edge, danger and debauchery?
Foo Fighters. Green Day. Blink-182. Linkin Park. Too nice, all of them. Queens of the Stone Age? Not quite enough widespread appeal. Nine Inch Nails? Not with Trent Reznor wearing tuxedos and winning Academy Awards. Metallica? Past its prime. Kid Rock? Gone the country and patriotic route. Fall Out Boy? Please.
Hell, even breaking away from more traditional rock music, hip-hop sadly doesn’t offer all that much. Lil Wayne seems just about done with the game. Snoop Dogg got old. And Dr. Dre wants no part of it. Drake is massive, but a little too well-liked by the nation's mothers and grandmothers to qualify, though he is incredibly charming. Kanye has potential, but he’s more a tortured-genius type than a rock star. Plus, rock stars don’t beef with Taylor Swift.
Marilyn Manson once held the mantle, but age, diminishing commercial returns and the fact that he’s lost his fastball as a live performer all sorta did him in. Which is why guys like Ozzy Osbourne and Keith Richards are just so damn fascinating. These rock-star types didn’t — like Manson, Metallica, Reznor and the like — age out of rock-star status. In fact, one could argue their rock-star legacies only heightened with age.
After all, rock star isn’t exactly a job title that lends itself to longevity. Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain? All gone at 27. And of those rock stars who have managed to outlive their contemporaries, their rock-star cred didn’t exactly hold up. Paul McCartney is brilliant, but John Lennon was the controversial one. Mick Jagger can still rock, but tries a little too hard these days, and rock stars are not try-hards.
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Rather, a real rock star opts for one of two personas. There’s the casual badass and the absolute madman. The former consists of folks like Richards, Slash and Tommy Lee, while the latter tends to favor front men – think Axl Rose, Vince Neil, etc. Casual badasses tend to be more beloved by musical-minded types, while the madmen often appeal to casual music fans or people who love a train wreck. Oftentimes (Mötley Crüe and Guns N’ Roses) musical magic results from pairing the two personalities together, though such contrasting personalities often result in an epic falling-out as well.
And now the end is near. Mötley Crüe just wrapped up a farewell tour (at least, an alleged farewell tour). Guns N’ Roses’ reunion was actually pretty awesome, though a full-scale reunion seems unlikely (hell, their reunion was labeled the "Not In This Lifetime" tour). Mick and Keith are both in their seventies. And then there’s the king of all rock stars, Ozzy Osbourne, who is currently winding down with Black Sabbath as part of its The End Tour.
Yes, even Ozzy, despite all evidence to the contrary, has an expiration date. He’ll be gone soon – musically; let’s not be morbid – and the candidates for replacements aren’t exactly ample. Enjoy the rock star while you can, ladies and gentlemen; he’s about to leave the stage for the last time.