Ozzy Osbourne is easily one of the most iconic figures in rock and roll as well as pop culture. After his stint in the legendary Black Sabbath during the 1970s, Osbourne went on to establish an impressive solo career that set many new standards for the metal genre and made household names for a handful of young guitarists.
Osbourne made his worldwide debut 50 years ago when Black Sabbath released its eponymous album. He would perform on seven more Sabbath albums in the 70s before being fired by the band in April 1979 due to internal conflicts and drug issues.
In the 40 year span from 1980 to 2020, Osbourne would release 12 studio albums, the first seven of which would achieve multi-platinum status. All of these studio efforts are ranked on this list with the exception of the 2005 covers album, Under Cover, which does not contain original material.
Through the three decades of Ozzy’s solo career, his guitarists; Randy Rhoads, Jake E Lee, Zakk Wylde and Gus G. have all been hailed as guitar heroes. During the early years, other well-known guitarists performed with or were considered for the gig as Osbourne’s fret wizard, including Bernie Tormé and Brad Gillis (Night Ranger) who performed briefly in the wake of Rhoads’ untimely passing. One of Rhoads one time students, Joe Holmes (Lizzy Borden, David Lee Roth), filled in for Zakk Wylde on Ozzy live dates between 1995 and 2001. Other names most fans were unaware of included Dave Meniketti of Y&T and George Lynch of Dokken.
After a decade spent dealing with health issues and a reunion and final tour with Black Sabbath, Ozzy returned in 2020 with a new studio album, one which will likely be his last. This seemed the perfect time to take a look back at all 11 of the original studio works by the mumbling monarch of metal. “Sharon!!!!”
11. Down to Earth (2001)
Ozzy’s eighth studio album is almost universally considered to be his worst studio efforts despite the fact that it was certified platinum. It was his first album to feature former Faith No More drummer Mike Bordin and future Metallica and former Suicidal Tendencies bassist Robert Trujillo. The album is also the only Ozzy album to feature Zakk Wylde as guitarist but without any songwriting credits. Osbourne co-wrote the record with numerous outside songwriters including producer Tim Palmer (Pearl Jam, Jason Mraz, Robert Plant). Down to Earth featured the singles, “Dreamer” and “Gets Me Through”. The production depleted the album of any raw energy leaving it with a homogenized feel, although “Facing Hell” is a true groover and a stand out track.
10. Black Rain (2007)
Osbourne’s tenth studio album was the last with longtime guitarist, Zakk Wylde, and has largely been considered among weakest efforts. It was the first to be produced by Kevin Churko (Five Finger Death Punch, In This Moment), who co-wrote the album’s music with Wylde and Osbourne. It was also the last album to feature drummer Mike Bordin, and the first to feature bassist Rob “Blasko” Nicholson. The record was widely panned for what were considered to be a weak batch of songs, but the album featured some of Ozzy’s heaviest and most aggressive work. The single, “I Don’t Wanna Stop” remains one of Osbourne’s ballsiest rockers. Osbourne claims this was his first album recorded while sober. It eventually sold Gold after debuting at #3 on the Billboard 200.
9. Scream (2010)
For Osbourne’s tenth studio effort, Osbourne returned to work with producer Kevin Churko (In This Moment, Five Finger Death Punch) who co-wrote all of the album’s 11 tracks. “Scream” marked the debut of Firewind guitarist Gus G. who replaced Osbourne’s longtime songwriting partner Zakk Wylde. The album was also the first to feature new drummer Tommy Clufetos. and keyboardist Adam Wakeman (son of Rick Wakeman of Yes fame) who co-wrote several of the tracks on the record. Scream hit #4 on the Billboard Charts and #1 on the Hard Rock Albums chart. The debut single, “Let Me Hear You Scream” appeared on an episode of CSI: NY appropriately titled, “Redemption”. While a stronger effort than its predecessor, Black Rain, outside of two or three solid tracks, it felt pretty tepid and uninspired overall. Ozzy also seems to struggle vocally on this one.
8. Ozzmosis (1995)
Osbourne’s seventh studio album reached number four on the Billboard 200 chart. It was the only Ozzy album to be produced by Michael Beinhorn (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Korn, Marilyn Manson) who was criticized for making the album sound over-produced and too smooth. Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler performed on the album along with Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman and drummer Deen Castronovo of Journey and Bad English fame. Ozzmosis featured minor hits with “Perry Mason” and “See You on the Other Side”. The album ultimately sold double platinum. It was the last of Ozzy’s multi-platinum efforts. Despite it’s rank here, the album remains underrated
7. Ordinary Man (2020)
Almost 50 years to the day after Ozzy debuted with Black Sabbath, and 40 years after his debut solo album, Ozzy finally released record number 11, Ordinary Man. There’s a misnomer if ever there was one, or is it? Not so ordinary Ozzy breaks away from tradition on his latest opus. No guitar virtuoso as his right hand. This time around it’s basically just Ozzy and two producers, Andrew Watt and Louis Bell who also co-wrote the album. Watt also served as guitarist for the album and Bell as keyboardist. Osbourne tapped Guns ‘n’ Roses bassist Duff McKagen to drop the low end, and drummer Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chickenfoot) to anchor the rhythm section. He invited guests as diverse as Post Malone, Elton John, and rapper Travis Scott, with some guitar solos from Slash and Tom Morello. I would be lying if I said I didn’t approach this album with skepticism, but it’s honestly Osbourne’s best work in years, somehow tying together his Sabbath era, his four decades of solo work, along with modern elements. Now in his 70s, he sounds reinvigorated and he’s having fun again.