Blizzard of Ozz, the first solo LP by once and future Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne, first scorched Mother Earth on September 20, 1980. An instant classic was born, wailing.
Much the way Black Sabbath’s debut directly begat all hard rock to follow it over the next ten years, Blizzard of Ozz largely set the template for ’80s metal.
To celebrate 35 years of Blizzard of Ozz, then, here are 35 facts about this all-time hard rock milestone. Hop on board the Crazy Train, Mr Crowley, and let’s go.
1. Blizzard’s genesis actually began a year or so before its release. That’s when, nearly a decade after actually inventing heavy metal and issuing forth a spate of still unparalleled landmark recordings, Black Sabbath informed frontman John Michael “Ozzy” Osbourne that his services in contribution to their dark arts were no longer needed.
2. To say Ozzy took his dismissal hard is a cosmic understatement, particularly after Sabbath’s Heaven and Hell success with new vocalist Ronnie James Dio. In response, Ozzy hit back at his old bandmates even harder.
3. Blizzard of Ozz peaked at #21 on the U.S. album chart. In the UK, it hit #4. To date, Blizzard of Ozz has sold more than six million copies worldwide. Four million of those have been in the United States alone.
4. In his 2011 memoir I Am Ozzy, Osbourne writes, “I’d be talking out my arse if I said I didn’t feel like I was in competition with Black Sabbath when we made Blizzard of Ozz. I wished them well, I suppose, but part of me was sh-tting myself that they were going to be more successful without me.”
5. Blizzard of Ozz has outsold Paranoid, Black Sabbath’s biggest unit-mover, by more than one million copies.
6. According to Bob Daisley, who played bass on the album, Blizzard of Oz was not going to be a solo record at all, but, rather an album by the band Blizzard of Ozz, which happened to be fronted by Ozzy Osbourne. By the time the record came out, that plan had changed.
7. Having worked with Tony Iommi, whose devil’s tri-tone “Black Sabbath” riff effectively invented heavy metal, Ozzy knew how crucial it would be for Blizzard to partner with another genius-level guitar player. Fortune smiled on him—and up-and-coming axe ace Randy Rhoads—in September 1979.
8. Randy had been playing with Quiet Riot when a mutual friend, bass player Dana Strum, hooked him up with Ozzy. The 22-year-old entered Osbourne’s hotel room with a Gibson Les Paul and a practice amp and warmed up. As Ozzy recalls, “He played this f—ing solo and I’m like, am I that f—ing stoned or am I hallucinating or what the f–k is this?” Rhoads landed the gig on the spot.
9. “Crazy Train” was the first single released from Blizzard of Ozz. It immediately registered in the public consciousness as Ozzy Osbourne’s signature anthem.
10. The song peaked at #9 on Billboard’s Rock Tracks chart. In the UK, it reached #49 on the pop chart.
12. Pat Boone, the archetypal 1950s white bread crooner and future Christian evangelical actually lived next door to Ozzy, wife Sharon, and their kids for years. They were great friends. Boone said his “fondest memory … was riding bikes with Sharon through Beverly Hills on the sidewalks, and she’s towing Ozzy behind her in a wagon because (of his) balance problem.”
14. For the 2015 album Immortal Randy Rhoads: The Ultimate Tribute, “Crazy Train” was covered by a one-off supergroup consisting of Serj Tankian (System of a Down) on vocals, Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine) on guitar, Rudy Sarzo (Ozzy Osbourne) on bass, and Vinny Appice (Dio, Black Sabbath) on drums.
15. Everyone’s least favorite take on “Crazy Train” is a parody by the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church.
16. When the Westboro Baptist Church performed their perverted “Crazy Train” outside the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010, Ozzy officially stated: “I am sickened and disgusted by the use of ‘Crazy Train’ to promote messages of hate and evil by a ‘church.’”
17. “Crazy Train” gets played frequently in sports stadiums. It was the official walk-up theme song for Atlanta Braves superstar Chipper Jones.
18. The VH1 TV special The 40 Greatest Metal Songs ranked “Crazy Train” at #9.
19. VH1’s 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs placed “Crazy Train” at #23. It was lower than on the metal list, but still the highest-charting track by a solo artist.
20. “Mr Crowley” (using the period-free, British spelling of the abbreviation for “Mister”) was Blizzard’s second single release.
21. The title refers to Aleister Crowley, a larger-than-life (and death), early 20th century British philosopher, occultist, magician, religion founder, writer, artist, traveller, world-class mountaineer, and long-time heavy metal icon and inspiration.
21. Other high-profile rock homages to Crowley include his face appearing on the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper cover; Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page buying and moving into Crowley’s castle on Loch Ness; Mick Jagger scoring and appearing in occultist Kenneth Anger’s Crowley film, Invocation of My Demon Brother; the Celtic Frost title To Mega Therion, which is ancient Greek for Crowley’s nickname, “The Great Beast;” and a multitude of tributes by Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson, including the 2008 heavy metal horror movie Crowley aka Chemical Wedding, which the singer scripted.
22. The mesmerizing keyboard intro on “Mr Crowley” is performed by Don Airey, who had been a member of Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. Airey also played on Black Sabbath’s Never Say Die album.
23. The Mr Crowley Live EP, which was sort of a maxi-single Blizzard of Ozz offshoot, came out on October 2, 1980.
25. Noteworthy “Mr Crowley” covers include those by Cradle of Filth, the Cardigans (who previously did Sabbath’s “Iron Man”), and a version for Immortal Randy Rhoads: The Ultimate Tribute with Chuck Billy (Testament) singing and Alexi Lahaio (Children of Bodom) shredding on guitar.
26. Although never released as a single, “Suicide Solution” stands as one of Blizzard’s most famous—and infamous—songs.
27. “Suicide Solution” directly addresses the self-destruction of active alcoholism. Ozzy has alternately said he drew inspiration from the February 1980 death at 33 of AC/DC frontman Bon Scott and that the song is about his own battles with the bottle.
28. “Suicide Solution” became a key component in the 1980s’ Heavy Metal Satanic Panic in 1984 when a teenager tragically shot himself to death while listening to Blizzard of Ozz. The kid’s parents sued Ozzy, claiming that he’d been prompted to pull the trigger by the lyrics of “Suicide Solution.” An almost identical set of circumstances in 1986—another teen killing himself with Ozzy’s music playing—prompted another lawsuit. The courts ultimately dismissed both cases.
29. In addressing the 1984 “Suicide Solution” death, Ozzy said: “The boy must have been pretty messed up before he ever heard an Ozzy record. I mean, I can’t help that, you know? I feel very sad for the boy, and I felt terribly sad for the parents. As a parent myself, I’d be pretty devastated if something like that happened. And I have thought about this, if the boot was on the other foot, I couldn’t blame the artist.”
30. At the 1985 height of Tipper Gore’s anti-rock Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC), the censorship group regularly cited “Suicide Solution” as a reason why the government should regulate music content. The opposing side repeatedly pointed out that “Suicide Solution” is a warning against drinking alcohol to excess.
31. The Blizzard of Ozz Tour band officially commenced in Scotland on September 12, 1980. The tour covered the United Kingdom, United States, and Canada before wrapping up one year and one day later in Daytona Beach, Florida
32. Because bassist Rudy Sarzo and drummer Tommy Aldridge could not obtain overseas visas, their roles for the UK leg were filled respectively by Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake. Lindsay Bridgewater played keyboards for the entire tour.
33. Ozzy and the band took the stage to composer Carl Orff’s “O Fortuna.”
34. In the UK, ’70s proto-metal pioneers Budgie opened for Ozzy. In North America, Ozzy shared the stage with the Joe Perry Project and fast-rising New Wave of British Heavy Metal standouts, Def Leppard.
35. Diary of a Madman, Ozzy’s ferocious follow-up LP, hit stores in November 1981, just six weeks after the Blizzard tour wrapped up.