Ozzy Osbourne: The Suicide Solution Controversy And What The Song Actually Means
40 years ago this month, Ozzy Osbourne released his debut solo album Blizzard Of Ozz. Reaching #7 in the UK charts at the time and going 5x platinum in the United States, it’s a landmark album not just for the Prince Of Darkness, but for heavy metal.
It also proved controversial. Five years after its release, the parents of teenager John McCollum filed a lawsuit, alleging that their son killed himself after listening to the song.
Now, in an interview with Rock Classics Radio on Apple Music Hits, Ozzy has discussed the media storm that surrounded the song and what the lyrics are actually about.
“Suicide Solution wasn’t written about, ‘Oh that’s the solution, suicide.’ I was a heavy drinker and I was drinking myself to an early grave. It was suicide solution,” says Ozzy. “Wine is fine but whiskey’s quicker. Suicide is slow with liquor. Let’s what I was doing for a long while. I just sort of stopped.”
Recalling the case brought by McCollum’s family and the media frenzy, Ozzy was in England when he received an urgent phone call from wife and manager Sharon Osbourne in LA.
“I got a phone call and Sharon said, ‘Pack your bag. Get on a plane to Los Angeles. You’ve got to get out here right now.’ I said, ‘Wait a minute. What’s happened?’ She goes, ‘Just do it. Just get on the god damn plane.’
“I want to know what they hell is going on. What’s happened? So I get on the plane and I’m flying for 11 and a half hours, get to LA, go through the customs and I come out the customs, not knowing any of what’s going on and there are 200 cameramen there. So as I’m coming through the gate, I’m thinking I’m walking in front of some film star or something else. I’m looking over my shoulder like, ‘What the fuck’s going on?’ And so somebody pokes a mic in my face and goes, ‘What have you got to say about the suicide?’ I’m thinking, ‘What the fuck are you talking about?’ So I’m getting the car, it’s right there, and Sharon tells me.”
READ THIS: The 10 best Ozzy Osbourne solo songs
Soon after landing, Ozzy was at a press conference in Los Angeles with his “serious lawyer” Harold Weissman; an experience he describes as “very heavy, very intensive”.
“The difference in them, the public, reporters and the serious press are nothing like music press. They give you some really difficult questions to answer. And the lawyer’s just, ‘Don’t you say a word. Let me do all the talking.’ It’s very difficult to sit there quiet when they’re throwing questions at you all the time. But it was a very unnerving situation.
“Judas Priest they had one, where two kids had a suicide pact. He started fucking ball-rolling, and these two kids shot themselves in the face, each other in the face with a shotgun. Sometimes I think if they would realise what the damage that they’re doing, reporting these stupid things in the first place. Because someone, somewhere, you know, is going to try it out.”
Rolling back three decades to 1991: one of the greatest years for heavy music
Listen to Justin Courtney Pierre’s new single Dying To Know, taken from upcoming EP An Anthropologist On Mars.