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Ozzy Osbourne's Bipolar Disorder - Truth or Rumor?

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Updated April 17, 2008

Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne

Getty Images / Dave Hogan

Family:

Ozzy Osbourne was born John Michael Osbourne on December 3, 1948. He was married to Thelma (whose last name is variously listed as Mayfair, Riley and Reilly) from 1971 to 1982. He adopted her son Elliott, and they had two children, Jessica and Louis. A month after he and Thelma divorced, Ozzy married his present wife and manager, Sharon Arden Osbourne. Ozzy and Sharon have three children, Aimee, Kelly and Jack, as well as an adopted son. The couple appeared with the two youngest children on the MTV reality-comedy show The Osbournes from 2002 to 2005.

Turbulent Early Life:

Born into a poor working-class family, Osbourne reportedly was a troubled child who dropped out of school and spent time in prison for theft. Kieran Grant, writing for the website canoe.ca, quotes Ozzy as saying that there was "lots of insanity" in his family, and that he made several suicide attempts "just to see what it would feel like." Dyslexia made school difficult; he dropped out at 15, got caught pilfering at 17 and spent a short time in prison for it. At 18 he and three friends formed the band which became Black Sabbath.

Black Sabbath:

The band's first album was a hit, as were those that followed, but drugs, alcohol and sex gradually became the focal points of the singer's life. At the same time, Black Sabbath began to get a reputation as satanic, although Osbourne has said that this was an act based on horror literature. "My job, if you can call it that, was to make kids have fun."

Success and Troubles Continue:

After getting kicked out of Black Sabbath due to his drug use, Ozzy launched a successful solo career. The famous bat-biting episode occurred in 1980 and gave Ozzy a reputation for animal cruelty. In fact, a live bat was thrown onstage during a concert and Osbourne, thinking it was a rubber toy, bit into it. The bat bit him in retaliation, and he had to undergo a painful series of rabies shots as a result. The truth is known, but the stigma has never gone away.

Serious Troubles:

In 1986, Osbourne was was sued by parents claiming their sons' suicides were caused by one of his songs, "Suicide Solution." All the suits were dismissed. Blind drunk, he urinated on the Alamo and was banned from San Antonio for 10 years. And, in 1989, after several days of binge drinking, he attacked his wife Sharon. This time he came out of the Betty Ford Clinic and stayed sober for some time; though he began drinking again when Sharon was undergoing (successful) treatment for colon cancer, no drunken binges are known to have occurred.

Discography Highlights::

Band Black Sabbath:
Black Sabbath (1970)
Paranoid (1971)
Master of Reality (1971)
Black Sabbath Vol. IV (1972)
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973)
Sabotage (1975)
Technical Ecstasy (1976)
Never Say Die (1978)
Reunion (1998)

Solo Albums:
Blizzard of Ozz (1980)
Diary of a Madman (1981)
Bark at the Moon (1983)
The Ultimate Sin (1986)
No Rest for the Wicked (1988)
No More Tears (1991)
Ozzmosis (1995)
Down to Earth (2001)
Black Rain (2007)

Notable Quotes::

"I am a raging alcoholic and a raging addict and I didn't want to see my kids do the same thing."

"I can honestly say, all the bad things that ever happened to me were directly, directly attributed to drugs and alcohol. I mean, I would never urinate at the Alamo at nine o'clock in the morning dressed in a woman's evening dress sober."

About Bipolar Disorder:

List after list of famous people with bipolar disorder includes Ozzy. Multiple websites say that he was either diagnosed with or "developed" bipolar disorder after he divorced his first wife. How did this rumor get started?

Intensive searching brought to light just one site claiming to have documentation -- Wikipedia, which says the citation is from VH1's "Heavy: The History of Metal" in 2006. However, the Ozzy Osbourne biography on the VH1 website does not mention this, nor is anything about Ozzy being bipolar anywhere on the VH1 website. And an extensive search of the internet yields not a single quote from Osbourne himself stating that he has bipolar disorder.

Certainly his life bears many hallmarks of manic depression -- suicide attempts, outrageous behavior, alcohol and drug abuse. But -- the behavior and the drugs also fit the profile of a boy too young to have good judgment catapulted into rock and roll stardom at a time when drugs were the "in" thing. In an interview with Observer Music Monthly Ozzy termed sex and drugs as "the spoils of war" -- that is, the perks that came with being a famous, even notorious, rock artist.

In the same interview is this passage:

Ozzy, who has therapy and attends alcoholic support groups, has been sober for two years ("something like that"), and only takes "official" medication. This involves pills for his condition (not Parkinson's disease, as has been inaccurately reported, but Parkinsonian syndrome, which causes his tremors), pills for the side-effects, and yet more pills to counteract their side-effects. He's hoping to get off these, too. "It's hard to keep up with them - you end up going crazy!"
There it is in black and white. Those are his medications. They are not medications for bipolar disorder.

If there is any proof that Ozzy Osbourne has bipolar disorder, that proof is well-hidden.

Sources:

"Lord of the Wings." Observer Monthly / guardian.co.uk. 20 May 2007. 15 April 2008.

Grant, Kieran. "Ozzy Osbourne Diary of a Madman." Jam! Showbiz Music Undated. 15 April 2008.

"CNN People in the News." CNN.com. 1 Jan 2003. CNN. 15 Apr 2008.

"Ozzy Osbourne." Wikipedia. 15 Apr 2008.

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