Ozzy Osbourne was interviewed for the latest episode of producer Rick Rubin's "Broken Record" podcast. During the chat, which can be heard at Apple.com, they discussed Ozzy's upcoming solo record, "Ordinary Man"; working together to produce BLACK SABBATH's "13" album; and lots more.
Speaking about his SABBATH bandmates, Ozzy said: "Geezer's [Butler, bass] a great, great lyricist. [And as a bassist], nobody can touch him. Bill [Ward], in his day, was a great drummer. Tony [Iommi, guitar], he's always gonna be the greatest — no one can touch him. And actually, to this day, I still don't understand how he plays guitar, 'cause he's got no fingertips; he plays with plastic fingers."
Osbourne also praised the legendary guitarist for how he soldiered on with SABBATH's planned reunion even after being diagnosed with the early stages of lymphoma almost a decade ago.
"I mean, there is a man," Ozzy said. "When he got diagnosed with cancer, he just dealt with it. That's him. I'm going [imitates crying sound], and he's, like, 'Whatever I have to do.' He's like that. He's always been like that. Very calm."
According to Ozzy, Tony was always the most important member of SABBATH. "He was the band, really," Osbourne said. "We were all part of the band, but he was the most irreplaceable one [out of all of us]."
Osbourne also touched upon his personal relationship with Iommi, revealing that he still looks up to his longtime friend and bandmate.
"People will say to me, 'Why did you always sing on the side of the stage?' I don't fucking know. I don't know," he said. "It's just fear, I suppose. 'Cause Tony, he's one of the few people who could walk into this room right now and I would fucking feel intimidated. He intimidates the fuck out of me — and he knows it."
Elsewhere in the interview, Ozzy expressed his disappointment that Ward ended up not being involved with the making of "13" or the tour in support of the LP.
"The only sad thing about the album was Bill wasn't playing [on it]," he said. "We would have been still doing the fucking album now. … He takes so much time over everything.
"Tony said to me one day, he said, 'You know Bill's trouble — he still thinks everybody's gonna rip him off,' which I get," he continued. "I ain't no better than Bill, or any of 'em, and I'm lucky to have a wife that's on my side. 'Cause these fuckers, man, they come in and they give you all this bullshit, drive you around in a flashy car, show you a bit of money. And you can sue them, but it takes you a fucking lifetime to win. The lawyers win. Sharon's father was a renowned fucking ripoff artist.
"We got stung for a lot of cash," Ozzy added. "But there again, I said to Bill Ward one day on the phone, a while ago now, I said, 'You know what? In a way, as far as I'm concerned, it was a blessing that I never got all that cash upfront, 'cause with what cash I had, I'd done a good job of nearly killing myself.' I wouldn't be sitting here, and that's for sure. If had got all the millions upfront, we would have been fucking dead."
Ward was on board for the SABBATH reunion when it was first announced eight years ago, but backed out soon after. The drummer later claimed that he sat out the recording and touring sessions because of unfair contractual terms, although the members of SABBATH have hinted in other interviews that he wasn't physically up to the task.
Back in November 2018, Osbourne said that he didn't particularly like working with Iommi even though he appreciated the BLACK SABBATH guitarist on a personal level. His remarks echoed those he made two months earlier when he told Philadelphia Inquirer that he "didn't have a great time" on SABBATH's final tour. He explained: "I spent nine or 10 years in SABBATH, but I'd been away from them for over 30 years. With them, I'm just a singer. With me, I get to do what I want to do. I was getting bad vibes from them for being Ozzy. I don't know — what the fuck else can I be?"
A couple of weeks after Ozzy's Philadelphia Inquirer interview was published, Iommi was asked by The List if he had a response to the singer's comments. Iommi said: "I saw that, but I don't know what he meant. I had a great time on the last tour playing with the guys, and Ozzy never mentioned anything to me. He seemed to enjoy it and we had a laugh, so I don't know. So I think possibly that quote was taken out of context."