Long before he became a television reality show personality, Ozzy Osbourne was just a regular rock star. One time he was on tour and booked to play the Boston Garden. Someone reported to the Licensing Commission that Ozzy abused animals—legend had it that he bit off the head of a chicken onstage—and Boston’s rock radio stations interrupted whatever they were playing with an urgent bulletin—the license had been revoked, the concert was off.
That’s where I come in. The band was on their way north from Pennsylvania, and their New York lawyer somehow found me and asked if I could do something about this unfortunate turn of events. I asked, “Who is Ozzy Osbourne?”
Despite my uninformed question, I ended up in front of the Licensing Board urging that they reinstate the permit. Perhaps fearing a riot by Ozzy’s fans, the board did just that, but subject to certain strict conditions. No obscenity. No Nudity. No pyrotechnics. No Violence. No feigned violence. I called the New York lawyer, who promised he would pass this on. He told me to call the Garden on the day of the concert and speak with Ozzy’s manager, a woman named Sharon—yes, the same Sharon you’ve seen on television, but this is before they were married.
Late the following Friday afternoon, I called the backstage number and let it ring for a very long time. Someone finally answered, and I asked if I could please speak with Mr. Osbourne. “They’ve gone out to eat,” he said. I left a message and my telephone number.
Within an hour, Sharon called me back, told me she knew about the problem with the authorities, and invited me to come over. So I did, the only person who ever went to a rock concert wearing a suit and tie. When I found my way through a special entrance, there they were—Ozzy Osbourne and his rock band. Sharon came over to introduce herself and take me to meet the great man. We chatted for a few minutes while he painted one side of his face one color and the other side a different color. He swore he had never bitten the head off a chicken and told me the real story of how that rumor got started. Then he asked if I would like to meet the members of the band.
I said I would, wondering whether they knew about the “conditions.” I told them who I was and asked if they knew about the licensing problem. No one did. “Well,” I explained, “this is Boston.” “We know that,” said the lead guitar player. “Do you know about the conditions?” Blank looks—“What conditions?”. (Thanks a lot, my New York lawyer friend.) So I explained them, one by one. No obscenity. “No problem.” No Nudity. “No problem.” No pyrotechnics. “No problem.” No Violence. “No problem. That’s a bum rap.” No feigned violence. No response. I repeated, “No feigned violence.” Still no response.
“Is there a problem?” I asked. The lead guitarist answered, “Oh _ _ _ _, now we can’t hang the midget.” At that point another member of the band, a midget named Ronnie, said, “That’s OK, you can hang me twice in Hartford tomorrow.”