“What other job can you imagine where the more fucked up you turn up, the better people think you’re gonna be? ‘Oh, fuckin’ Tony’s stoned’ or ‘Ozzy’s stoned’ or ‘Bill’s stoned.’ It’s going to be good fun tonight.’
—Ozzy in High Times talking about smoking ganja with Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath’s original members came together twice during the 1990s—the first occasion occurring at the conclusion of Ozzy’s first No More Tours tour when a newly sober Ozzy asked his old band to open two shows in Costa Mesa, California on November 15th and 16th, 1992. Both shows would end with Ozzy joining Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Bill Ward on stage to rip through a few Sabbath classics. The second “reunion” in 1997 at Ozzfest (minus drummer Bill Ward until his return in December of that year), would eventually lead to an album, the band’s first live record (featuring the original lineup), Reunion. In October of 1998, the band arrived in New York City for their first TV appearance in 22 years on the Late Show with David Letterman. While in New York, Ozzy’s people reached out to High Times magazine saying that he wanted the magazine to interview him. When High Times journalist Chris Simunek got the news he was going to interview the Prince of Darkness (or perhaps the Prince of Dankness in this scenario), he thought he was being “pranked” as the thought of possibly doing bong hits with Ozzy was just too much. But the request was legit and Simunek and High Times production director Rob Braswell eventually set out to meet Ozzy and Iommi at their hotel. Once they were whisked away to the room where interviews were being held, they were greeted by Osbourne who asked them if they were “rolling yet.” Priorities, Ozzy has them.
Upon meeting Ozzy, Simunek described shaking the hand of the odds-defying vocalist like “shaking the hand of a man who just came out of a 30-year panic attack.” Even at 50, Ozzy’s hereditary tremors and stammering speech were front and center; however, this didn’t stop Osbourne or Iommi from sharing some stories from their drug-using/abusing past—which was the point of the interview with High Times in the first place. In the words of Simunek—if you want to read about Black Sabbath’s music “go read Guitar Player.” This discussion with Ozzy and Iommi, two of heavy metal’s most valuable players was about weed, and as it turns out, lots of other party favors the band had devoured during their smoke it/snort it/drink it days. The interview was published in the March 1999 issue and would become one of High Times’ biggest sellers. As I am a proud owner of this issue, it feels like high time to share some of the highlights.
Ozzy, Tony Iommi and ALL THE WEED in High Times Magazine.
Simunek: So I’ve got to ask you about “Sweet Leaf.” Where did that come from?
Ozzy: Well, what do you think? We used to smoke pounds of the shit man. We used to buy it by the fuckin’ sackful. We used to be so fucked up all the time. Wake up in the morning, start the day with a spliff and go to bed with it. Yeah, it started to get…I started to get the heebee-jeebees. I was mixing all kinds of other chemicals. Booze, coke, pills…
Simunek: Do you see a difference between pot and other chemicals?
Ozzy: Absolutely. This, for instance, (waving his cigarette), tobacco. I couldn’t smoke as many joints a day as I can this stuff. Gotta legalize pot. I’m all for the legalization of pot, decriminalize it. I don’t smoke it myself, but if anybody wants to smoke it, fine. I got busted for it. We all did.
Simunek: With coke, wouldn’t you record albums faster?
Ozzy: You’d do it, and then you’d forget what you were doing! We couldn’t turn the fucking tape machine on! We’d turn the ‘pause’ on instead of ‘play/record,’ you know. We’d be playing for fuckin’ twenty-four hours.
Iommi: Those neat little bags (of coke).
Ozzy: Just chop us another line out! Get another can of beer out of the fridge! Roll another joint! We used to smoke big bags of hash. Big fuckin’...we used to buy hash by the pound.
Iommi: And coke. We used to buy these sealed bottles of coke.
Ozzy: Government sealed!
Simunek: Is it rough to be sober now?
Ozzy: It sucks. I don’t like being sober, but say you chopped up some lines (of coke). I’d go, ‘Yeah, I’ll go for it.’ By twelve-o’clock I’d be hanging off of the fucking building screaming with a bottle of vodka in my hand. There was a big period of time when I used to drink cheap wine and do ‘ludes. I’d be like fucking jelly, and the audience would be like a pond, a fucking oil slick. Did you ever try the original Quaaludes?
Simunek: No. That’s a little before my time.
Ozzy: (Now addressing Iommi) They were fucking wonderful, weren’t they? I could still get them. I know somebody who froze ten thousand.
In addition to Ozzy and Iommi’s take on their own personal Fear and Loathing journey in High Times, there was also a photo shoot with Osbourne and Iommi at photographer Dennis Kleiman’s New York studio involving a shit-ton of high-quality New York grown nugs and buds. Ozzy’s publicists kept a tight wrap on the guest list for the shoot (even Simunek was barred from being there), which was probably for the best as according to those who were there, Ozzy was especially “playful” during the session as he clutched a giant bag of weed while running laps around Kleiman’s studio. While all this was going on, some of Ozzy’s crew started pocketing some of the bud used for the shoot. When word got back to High Times editor and publisher Mike Edison (as noted in his 2008 book I Have Fun Everywhere I Go: Savage Tales of Pot, Porn, Punk Rock, Pro Wrestling, Talking Apes, Evil Bosses, Dirty Blues, American Heroes, and the Most Notorious Magazines in the World), he was pissed. Here’s more from Edison on the great Ozzy Osbourne Weed Heist of 1999:
“They were stuffing their pockets with weed when they left. Fuck, why didn’t they just ask! Boosting the stash was pretty square. No class. We would have pretty much given them whatever they wanted out of respect for their boss. There was no way I was not going to exploit this, and I leaked the story to the New York Post which it ran on Page Six titled ‘Drug-Addled Rock Star Pilfers Pot, Chaos Reigns at Stoner Photo Shoot.’”
More after the jump…