There’s no denying that 2019 was a rough year for Ozzy Osbourne. Yes, the dark king of metal scored his first Mainstream Rock Songs No. 1 since 2010 with the solo single “Under the Graveyard” and ended a record 30-year drought between Hot 100 Top 10 hits thanks to a collaboration with new bestie Post Malone on “Take What You Want,” but other than that it was rough. Real rough.
In fact, it was the “worst, longest, most painful, miserable year of my life,” Osbourne told Good Morning America in a sneak peek of an interview slated to air on Tuesday morning (Jan. 21). “It wasn’t really a problem for a long while,” Osbourne says of why he waited so long to share the news about a horrible fall at home that re-aggravated an old injury and sidelined him for much of 2019. But, he says, wife/manager Sharon Osbourne told her husband he seemed different after the tumble and wondered what was going on.
“When I had the fall, it was pitch black. I went to the bathroom and I fell,” explained Osbourne, 71, of a fall in his Los Angeles home that aggravated an old injury from a 2003 ATV accident that required surgery. “I just fell and landed like a slam on the floor and I remember lying there thinking, ‘Well, you’ve done it now,’ really calm. Sharon [called] an ambulance. After that, it was all downhill.”
The recovery was long and painful, the couple said, lasting nearly an entire year and forcing the postponement of large chunks of North American and European dates on the rock icon’s No More Tours 2 outing. The fall required surgery that placed 15 screws in his spine, followed by a number of hospitalizations. The injury also revealed another health issue that emerged at the time: a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, a progressive, incurable nervous system disorder that affects movement and commonly causes tremors, stiffness, slurred speech and slow movement.
“It’s PRKN 2,” Sharon Osbourne told GMA. “There’s so many different types of Parkinson’s; it’s not a death sentence by any stretch of the imagination, but it does affect certain nerves in your body. And it’s — it’s like you have a good day, a good day, and then a really bad day.”
Osbourne recently previewed the upcoming biopic Biography: The Nine Lives of Ozzy, which is slated to debut at his spring’s South by Southwest festival. Ozzy is also prepping the release of his Ordinary Man album on Feb. 21, which will feature appearances from pal Elton John, Post Malone, Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello and Slash, as well as Guns N’ Roses‘ Duff McKagan on bass and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith.
The rock legend has remained out of the spotlight as he recovered from the neck surgery and he’s curently taking Parkinson’s medication for what he described as a “mild” form of the disorder as well as nerve pills that have had some other side-effects. “I got a numbness down this arm for the surgery, my legs keep going cold,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s the Parkinson’s or what, you know, but that’s — see, that’s the problem. Because they cut nerves when they did the surgery. I’d never heard of nerve pain, and it’s a weird feeling.”
Sharon said the couple are traveling to Switzerland in April to visit a professor who “deals with getting your immune system at its peak” as they search for answers. “To hide something like this inside for a while it’s hard. You never feel proper, you feel guilty,” Ozzy said of not revealing his diagnosis until now.
Watch video of Osbourne’s interview below. [Editor’s note: this article has been updated with the full video of the Osbourne interview and additional details about his Parkinson’s diagnosis.]