By SEAN DALY
Times Pop Music Critic
The lovable, late-career incarnation of John Michael "Ozzy" Osbourne has included a hit MTV reality show and, most recently, a Rolling Stone advice column for the lovelorn. But what the bumbling, beloved rocker really needs is a gig on Animal Planet.
The Prince of Darkness, who plays the St. Pete Times Forum on Friday, has spent great chunks of his 62 years inextricably linked to barnyard beasties, flying nasties and related furry fauna. His journey has been not so much man vs. man, but Ozzy vs. nature, a tumultuous albeit symbiotic relationship with all manner of critters not unlike the iconic paths of Grizzly Adams, Aquaman or, at the very least, those folks on Animal Hoarders.
Without the wild kingdom, there is no Ozzy. It's that simple. And weird. And more than a little disturbing. So herewith, a quick look at Ozzy's legendary antics with his animal friends:
PIGS: The prickly relationship commences! Ozzy and his mates in Black Sabbath taunted the porcine world by comparing oinkers to death merchants. Behold, 1970's War Pigs.
DOVES: In 1981, a Los Angeles meeting with record execs was supposed to end with the dramatic releasing of a white dove. Instead, a snockered Ozzy reportedly had a change of heart and bit the bird's head off.
CATS & CHICKENS: According to Rolling Stone, he did really, really bad things to them, too. Let's just say guns were involved. And that Ozzy hid under a piano from the shame.
BATS: It might have been rubber. It might have been real. It might have been alive. Whatever the case, in 1982, a fan threw a bat onstage at an Ozzy concert and the star bit its head off, too. Ozzy later claimed the bat bit him, too. Self-defense? Hmm . . .
ANTS: In Neil Strauss' brilliant Motley Crue tell-all The Dirt, the boys in the band recall touring with Ozzy — and seeing him snort a line of fire ants. When Motley Crue is shocked by your behavior, you know it's time to maybe dial things back a bit.
DOGS: On MTV's phenom The Osbournes, which ran from 2002 to 2005, Ozzy waged a war against his wife Sharon's small dog, which relieved itself all over the house. "Sharrrron! ! !"
DEER: In new Disney movie Gnomeo & Juliet, Ozzy voices the role of a daffy deer. Not surprisingly, the rocker is adept at inhabiting the mind of a four-legged creature. Is this a sign of peace between Ozzy and his animal friends? If I were Bambi, I'd still sleep with one eye open . . .
Sean Daly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life blog is at tampabay.com/blogs/poplife.