Life with Ozzy Osbourne, Says His Wife, Sharon, Is a Heavy Test of Mettle

UPDATED 07/10/1989 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 07/10/1989 at 01:00 AM EDT

Ozzy Osbourne, rock's minister of mayhem, is best known for biting the head off a bat and bringing a stadium full of heavy-metal fans to a head-banging frenzy with his howling vocals. It's hard to imagine him sweetly crooning, "Hi, honey, I'm home," to wifey and a nice little nuclear family. "People shudder when they think of what his wife and children must be like," says Sharon, Ozzy's Harriet of seven years. "They expect some blond bimbo with plastic boobs, in black leather and studs, and little children with pointed ears and fangs. But when they see me and the kids, they're always surprised."

Today those kids—Aimee, 5, Kelly, 4, and Jack, 3—are ricocheting around a Beverly Hills hotel suite strewn with clothes and toys. But bathrobe-clad Osbourne, 40—who's just finishing a tour for his already-platinum album No Rest for the Wicked—is in control. While Sharon showers, he herds his brood to the breakfast table and serves up Rice Krispies and bacon.

A few minutes later Sharon emerges immaculately coiffed and ready for another day's business. Besides being Ozzy's wife, Sharon, 36, happens to be his manager—a savvy, hard-driving veteran of the industry, who also handles metal maiden Lita Ford, Ozzy's partner on the Top 10 duet "Close My Eyes Forever." Says Ford: "Ozzy's a lunatic and Sharon isn't. That chemistry, I think, is responsible for how far they've gotten."

Their different styles are apparent as the Osbournes settle into a booth at the Polo Lounge for a late-morning business meeting. Dressed in a smart white suit, Sharon sips from a tall glass of Perrier. Ozzy, in jeans and a rumpled sweatshirt that reveals some of his 15 tattoos, quickly downs several beers. "We hardly agree on anything," says Ozzy. He prefers sloth, while she likes to socialize and take in the symphony, the opera and sentimental movies. "Really sloppy things," scoffs Ozzy.

For her part Sharon says that being married to Ozzy "is like living with several different people. One day he can be loving and romantic, but the next day he'll turn into this Jekyll and Hyde monster. I never know what I'm going to wake up with." Or what it may look like, given Ozzy's fondness for body art. "I'm aching to get another tattoo, but she won't let me," he complains. "I hate them," says Sharon, who, last time Osbourne came home with some new needlework, "took him to a plastic surgeon to remove it. But when the doctor explained the process, I was so nauseated that I had Ozzy take me home."

When disagreements do arise, Sharon says, they often entail smashing plates, overturning furniture and hitting and kicking. But Ozzy has an endearing way of making up. "After a big, crazy fight, I go out and buy her a diamond ring or a necklace," he says. "Yeah, they love him at Tiffany's," says Sharon.

Ozzy's drinking has started a lot of their fights. "My wife's had to drag me down so many hallways, I've got carpet burns on my a— ," he says. After drying-out trips to the Betty Ford Center and Hazelden Foundation and a fairly sober past year, Ozzy is drinking again. "I've had a long problem with alcohol, but I'd be lying if I said I was never going to have another drink," he says. "Basically I want to control it better." Says Sharon: "I'm not madly in love with his drinking, but I know how to deal with it better now." Drugs, however, she will not tolerate, and Osbourne says he has cut back to only occasional marijuana use.

When they met 18 years ago, Sharon was working as a receptionist for her father, London music wheeler-dealer Don Arden, who had just signed a heavy-metal band called Black Sabbath. "Ozzy walked into my father's office without shoes, with a water faucet dangling from his neck and sat on the floor," she recalls. "I was terrified." Ozzy took note of Sharon too. "She was always a very classy woman, smart and outgoing," he says. "I came from a totally different background, not as wealthy or educated, and I thought she was an impressive woman. Then one thing led to another, and I fell in love with her." That happened in 1979, when Black Sabbath dropped Ozzy, and Arden took on Osbourne as a solo act. Ozzy left his wife, Thelma (with whom he had two children), in 1981 and wed Sharon a year later, though not without several hitches. "We had five different engagement rings," says Sharon. "Every time Ozzy would ask me to marry him, we'd have an argument and I'd throw the damn ring out the window." She accepted only after "we'd spent two days combing the gardens of a hotel for a $10,000 diamond."

Sharon gained a husband but lost a family. When Ozzy's solo career began to pay off, she decided her father had cut her husband a raw deal. Amid lawsuits and threats, Sharon walked off with Ozzy as her new client—and never spoke to her father again. "It's absolutely disgusting, what happened," she says. "Because it didn't matter that he was my father. It was money that tore us apart."

That crisis, on top of years of high living, led to Sharon's nervous breakdown in 1980. But, she says, "I totally threw myself into getting well" and emerged as a teetotaling workaholic who soon made her mark as a manager. "The business is run solely by men," says Ozzy. "When they first saw her, they immediately assumed she was an airhead chick. But once they heard my wife yell and saw things thrown out the window, they went, 'Good God! She's the real thing!' "

Home for the Osbournes since 1986 has been a 20-room Edwardian mansion in Buckinghamshire, about 30 miles northwest of London. But Ozzy spends about eight months out of the year on the road, and Sharon is usually with him. The children, with their full-time nanny, join up on holidays and school breaks. "They've probably been around the world 10 times," says Sharon.

When Mom and Dad do get home, Ozzy surrenders to domesticity. He gets up every day to drive the kids to school in his Range Rover. He also handles the cooking, specializing in roasts and curries. But life with this father never remains quiet or cozy for long. "I'm home for a day, I look around a bit, play pool in my poolroom," Ozzy says, "and then I yell, 'Sharon, get me another tour!' "

—Montgomery Brower, Todd Gold in Los Angeles

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