This article is from the The Osbourne FAQ, by Mike L. with numerous contributions by others.
The year was 1948 and John Michael Osbourne was born on December 3rd in
the industrial town of Birmingham, England to Jack and Lillian Osbourne.
John was the fourth of six children (2 brothers, Paul and Tony) and 3
(Jean, Iris and Gillian) in a small two bedroom home at 14 Lodge Road in
Aston, England. Needless to say the house was more than a little crowded.
Ozzy's father worked nights in a steel plant while his mother worked days in
the Lucas car plant assembling electrical circuits. His family was in
poor financial shape with no money, no car and little food. Ozzy says his
childhood consisted of one pair of shoes, one pair of socks, no underwear,
one pair of pants and one jacket. There would be a bucket at the end of the
bed to urinate in, which sat there for months. Their beds never had clean
sheets, and sometimes they used overcoats as bed shets.
Ozzy was beaten quite a bit by his father, most of it was deserved for
stunts like trying to kill his siblings. (Ed: While I don't condone the
beating of a child, I also don't think one should attempt to kill one's
siblings either. Take the above comment with this in mind.)
One day Ozzy's friends gave his brother a used condom and told him it was a
balloon. His brother went into the house with the condom blown up, and his
father washed his mouth out with soap.
In his spare time, Ozzy would watch television. He liked shows such as
"I love Lucy", "Lassie" and "Roy Rogers". This was the lifestyle of
Birmingham, a time where you went to work all day and then to the pub to
drink and play darts until deciding to stagger home. For the Osbourne
life was no different. It was all work and little time to enjoy the finer
moments in life. While the Beatles were singing about flower power and
loving one another, the people of Birmingham simply had to take a good look
around them to see the reality of the world: it was hard. Life was no
different for the Osbourne family.
While in school, other students called John, "Ozzie" or "Oz-brain" with
respect to his last name. Quite the rebel, Ozzy did however take part
in various school opera-plays such as H.M.S. Pinafore, The Mikado
and The Pirates of Penzance. There was one student at school named
Tony Iommi whom Ozzy did not get along with. Tony and John were from two
different crowds and there was no love lost between the two. Tony and his
mates would make fun of Ozzy's high voice and compared his singing to that
of a girls. The two of them would later reunite later on under totally
Ozzy did not do particularly well in school and wanted to get out as soon
as he could. When asked on a school survey what his ambition was, he wrote
that he wanted to become a plumber. This was not to happen however. Ozzy
was kicked out from school. His parents argued often, and the main issue was
their lack of money. Ozzy decided that he could fix this if he could go out
and get a job. So at the age of 15, Ozzy took his first job as a plumber's
assistant. He proceeded to cut the end of his thumb off, and it had
to be reattached. He still bears a scar.
His second job was as a toolmaker's apprentice. Ozzy then went on to
work in a slaughterhouse in Digbeth for two years, killing cows. Perhaps
this influenced his musical style, I do not know. Other jobs included an
auto mechanic, house painter and even two weeks at a mortuary. His first
musical job was working in the Lucas electrical plant tuning car horns.
He later said, "I liked heavy metal better because it was louder".
Ozzy did not care for working for other people so he decided to try crime
instead. He once tried stealing a 24 inch television set. Balanced on top of
a wall with it, and trying to keep his balance, he fell off with the
television landing on top of him. He did some more break and enters but
used a pair of gloves with the fingers cut off. Naturally he was caught.
Unable to pay the fine, Ozzy spent three months (or was it 6 weeks?)
in Birmingham's Winson Green Prison for breaking into an occupied boarding
While incarcerated there, Ozzy tattooed the now famous letters O-Z-Z-Y on
his left knuckles and happy faces on his knees using sewing needle and a
graphite slab. One happy face can be seen on his left knee on the "Diary of
a Madman" album cover. He would later be put in jail again for punching a
police officer in the mouth.
Shortly after his release from prison for burglary, Ozzy wound up in the
hospital on glucode for 12 hours after being thrown through a glass window
while fighting 3 men.