Why Ozzy Osbourne Never Listened to Black Sabbath’s Dio Albums
The Prince of Darkness reflected on his successor in a new episode of "Ozzy Speaks" on SiriusXM. "Ronnie did a good job," Osbourne admitted of the singer, who first joined Sabbath from 1979-82 and sang on 1980's Heaven and Hell and 1981's Mob Rules. (He returned a decade later for 1992's Dehumanizer, and he later formed Heaven & Hell with Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler, releasing The Devil You Know in 2009.)
Still, being replaced in the band he co-founded was a tough pill for Osbourne to swallow. "At the time I was fucking sad because ... they were the only thing that ever really happened to me," he said.
Osbourne commended his Sabbath bandmates for "[getting] somebody completely different" rather than hiring one of the endless "Ozzy sound-alikes" who were clamoring for the position. But even though he respected Dio, he never listened to Black Sabbath's Dio-era albums. "It's like my ex-wife ... [when] you leave a band like that, it's just like getting divorced," he said. "You don't go, 'How's your new bloke? Is he better than me?'" Although Dio's initial tenure with Black Sabbath was short, it revitalized the band creatively and commercially, and many fans rank Heaven and Hell among the band's best works.
Iommi also praised his former bandmate in a recent Kerrang! interview, calling their collaboration "a really exciting period for us."
"Ozzy was great, but Ronnie was a different singer altogether," the guitarist added. "We wanted somebody who was different; we didn’t want to bring somebody in who was gonna sound similar to Ozz. So it was good to have somebody totally different, and Ronnie’s voice and the way he approached the songs allowed us to be able to try different things in a different way than what we’d done before. It opened up a lot more variety for us, really."
Osbourne eventually reunited with Sabbath from 1997-2006 and again from 2011 until their retirement in 2017. His final tenure with the band also produced the chart-topping studio album 13. With the benefit of hindsight, the singer acknowledged that the Dio period was fruitful for his cohorts. "Looking back, it was the best thing that ever happened," he said. "Because they had a good start again."