The trend was expensive. "Ozzy one night I stayed and counted every broken chair and cushion, ," says Delsener. "Each chair was, $60, and we took it out of his fee. Of course Ozzy's people went nuclear but I was like, 'Man, I can't eat this.' It was over $60,000, some crazy figure."
Louis Messina, president of TMG/AEG Live has worked with the Osbourne's for decades and was one of the original promoters of Ozzfest. "The wizard of Oz," he states. "I love Ozzy both on and off the stage. There is never a dull minute, it's a 24-hour show. Working with him and Sharon is definitely one of my career highlights."
Promoters love working with Ozzy, and seemingly not just because he makes them money. "We don't break their balls," Osbourne says. "Some bands say that the guarantee is the guarantee and they don't care if you had four people there. We cut them slack. It's always a crapshoot, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose."
Mostly they win, though -- and Osbourne has also won respect as a performer. "No one turns it on like he does when he hits that stage," says Randy Phillips, CEO of AEG Live, producers of last year's Ozzfest. "And remember, with Ozzy, it's the Ozzy and Harriet show, you get Ozzy and Sharon, and they're an incredible team together. She's a great manager for him and he is iconic, he invented metal in a lot of ways."
Along the way, Sharon Osbourne has earned a reputation as a savvy, tough-as-nails manager, a reputation she shrugs off. "It's expected to be a hard business person when you're a man, especially in this genre of music that we deal in," she says. "We're not like the Philharmonic Orchestra, where people are gentle. But when a woman's hard, it's like, 'Whoa, she's a bitch.' Women are not supposed to tough, but you have to be."
Being married in both career and life has its own dynamic. "Sometimes I wonder, 'Is she telling me this as my wife or is she telling me this as my fucking manager?'" Ozzy admits. "Sometimes it's great, sometimes it ain't. But you know what, she ain't done such a bad job with me over the years."
As for Sharon's tough reputation, "I need that kind of thing," Osbourne says. "When my ego kicks in, she's one to go, 'Get the fuck out of here.' She just tells me the way it is. We're in it together."
When it is suggested that in some ways Ozzy's success is her success, Sharon says, "You're only as good as the artist you manage. Ozzy always says, 'You can't polish a turd. You've either got it or you haven't.' "
Ozzy recently moved his booking responsibilities to William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, where his responsible agent is contemporary music head Marc Geiger -- ironically, one of the founders of Lollapalooza. "WME is thrilled that we get to work with Ozzy," says Geiger. "I don't even know what to say, as he has accomplished so much in so many areas, let alone his influence on thousands of rock musicians and fans. We are just lucky to be able to work with him…and by the way, the new record sounds incredible. Ozzy rules."
Ozzy rules, sure, but he would be the first to admit he's not perfect. And the road can become a grind these days. "I want to give the audience my heart and soul every night, but sometimes I pull it off and sometimes I don't," he says. "We're human. I don't use any tricks, I don't lip synch my voice, what you see is what you get. I've done my fair share of bad gigs, and I'm not embarrassed to say that."
Such honesty is typical of Osbourne, who is clearly in a good place these days. "People ask if I have any advice to give them. The only thing I could say really is if that if you've got any dreams of a better life or you want to do something, hold onto the dream because sometimes they come true," he says. "That's the case for me. My prospects for the rest of my life weren't that good when I was a kid. The whole journey for me has been magical."