My midnight stroll with Ozzy Osbourne | Paul Rees

When writer Paul Rees was invited to Christmas dinner chez the Osbournes, he didn’t expect to end up outside with Ozzy and a pair of night-vision goggles…

In 1994, I was invited to Christmas dinner at Ozzy Osbourne’s house. Rock’s enduring wild man was emerging from self-imposed retirement and his return to action had been marked by the launch of his official website. Ozzy’s wife and manager, Sharon, had arranged for the first 20 fans to visit it to meet their hero at the couple’s rambling estate in Berkshire.

The formidable Sharon hired a fleet of caterers to serve turkey and trimmings in a candlelit dining room adorned with a towering Christmas tree. I was dispatched by Kerrang! magazine to document the festive tidings and arrived to find Ozzy in a mutinous mood. Within minutes he had convinced himself I was a waiter and loudly demanded that I be put to work. “Ignore him,” Sharon soothed, adding: “He’s a daft old sod.”

A series of comic episodes ensued as soon as the over-enthusiastic American visitors pitched up. Gaggles of them roamed the house in search of souvenirs, with Ozzy stomping after them. “Sharon!” the Brummie boomed from a far-flung wing, “Someone’s nicked the bog roll.”

After dinner, I joined Ozzy in the library for our interview. Skittish at the best of times, he set off at once on a rambling and wholly libellous discourse meant to “out” a score of his fellow rock stars as gay. I asked him instead what he did for a hobby. His eyes widened and he leapt up. “I’ve a fan who is a colonel in the US Marines,” he enthused, throwing open a cupboard, “and he gave me these.” He showed me two pairs of infra-red, night-vision goggles.

And so it came to pass that on a frigid December’s night, Ozzy and I embarked upon a stroll around the woodland encircling his home. In the inky blackness we viewed each other in a luminous green glow. Rain had turned the ground into a thick, viscous bog and I suggested we might incur Sharon’s wrath by trailing mud across her carpets.

“Bollocks to that,” Ozzy trumpeted. He had a mission in mind. He meant for us to seek out his herd of fallow deer, which remained entirely elusive for the hour that we fumbled about. Finally, at 2am, as we stumbled around in a bog, Ozzy shrugged and concluded in a baleful voice: “Fuck ’em, let’s go home.” That was the real Ozzy: funny and bonkers.

When We Were Lions (£18.99, Aurum) by Paul Rees is out now. To order a copy for £15.57 go to

Paul Rees

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Ozzy Osbourne: ‘My problem, really, is I don’t remember I’m 70’ [He’s 69]
The singer on Black Sabbath, being superstitious and moving back to England

James McMahon

26, May, 2018 @12:59 PM

Article image
Tea with Ozzy Osbourne: ‘I’ve sung that song for 55 years. I’m not going to forget the words’
When he stole the show at the Commonwealth Games, fans were delighted to see the Prince of Darkness back. Here, Ozzy Osbourne pours out his soul about overcoming illness, coming home – and why he owes it all to Sharon

Craig McLean

28, Aug, 2022 @7:00 AM

Article image
Kelly Osbourne | Interview

The one-time wild child has written a book to help other girls cope with adolescence. She tells Tim Lewis why she's determined to enjoy a more mature take on life

Tim Lewis

12, Sep, 2009 @11:10 PM

Article image
Ozzy Osbourne denies relapse caused split
The Black Sabbath singer responds to allegations that drugs and alcohol were behind the break-up from his wife of 34 years

Guardian music

10, May, 2016 @8:41 AM

Article image
Ozzy Osbourne undergoing 'intense therapy' for sex addiction
Black Sabbath singer says he is ‘mortified’ at what his behaviour has done to his family, following the exposure of his ‘relationship’ with a celebrity hairstylist

Guardian music

04, Aug, 2016 @7:48 AM

Article image
Sharon Osbourne on politics, literature - and life with Ozzy

She doesn't want to be Charles Dickens, so she's modelling herself on Barbara Cartland, she tells Stuart Jeffries

Stuart Jeffries

01, Mar, 2010 @12:05 AM

Article image
Ozzy Osbourne admitted to hospital for 'complications from flu'
Wife Sharon Osbourne thanks supporters for ‘concern and love’ during illness that has forced cancellation of European tour

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

07, Feb, 2019 @9:45 AM

Article image
The day Richard Harris, in a bathrobe, told me stories over bellinis
Having captivated TV producer Michael Tuft with his storytelling at the Savoy’s American Bar, the next day Richard Harris did a recording of WB Yeats poems for him

Michael Tuft

22, May, 2016 @5:00 AM

Article image
My lunch with Marianne Ihlen | Paul Webster
How a teenage Paul Webster found Leonard Cohen’s muse on the island of Hydra

Paul Webster

21, Aug, 2016 @5:00 AM

Article image
The day Laurence Olivier played the supporting role to my lead
David Bradley recalls a run-through as an understudy, playing opposite Laurence Olivier in The Party

David Bradley

15, Jan, 2017 @6:00 AM