Ozzy Osbourne meets Marilyn Manson and all hell breaks loose

by Alan DiPerna

Ozzy Osbourne meets Marilyn Manson-five words guaranteed to give apoplexy to censors, evangelists and moral watchdogs everywhere. A few months before this summer's Ozz Fest, Guitar World arranged for these two titans of demonic shock rock to meet for the very first time, via a conference call. The grandad of devil metal and the music's new Great Dark Hope couldn't be more dissimilar, outwardly. While Osbourne talks a blue streak, punctuating nearly every sentence with the F-word, Manson is quiet and subdued. Picture it: a genuine, English working-class wildman holding discourse with an equally genuine middle-class Midwestern misfit. But the two of them found plenty of common ground as soon as they settled down for a Satanic summit meeting.

OZZY OSBOURNE: I gotta tell you, man, the name of your band is fucking great. I think it's a great angle. Really cool.

MARILYN MANSON: I appreciate that. The name is a statement on American culture.

OSBOURNE: They re-run these Charles Manson biographies on TV all the time. I mean Charles Manson must be the most publicized fucking mass murderer of all time.

MANSON: Well, they created his image-the media. If they'd ignored him, he just would have been like anybody else in jail. But they made him into an icon, then they bitch about the fact that he's an icon. That's something that's always fascinated me-this endless circle. And I think the same thing happens with us, Oz; they make us into these antichrists, then they bitch about us.

GUITAR WORLD: How did each of you got into the Satanic imagery that's been so prominent a part of your music?

OSBOURNE: Black Sabbath was never really a Satanic band, although we did touch on topics like Satanism and devil worship in certain songs. It was just a different angle. If you think back to the late Sixties and early Seventies, it was all fuckin' flower power and how wonderful the fuckin' world is. That just didn't seem true to us. The world was fucked.

MANSON: For Marilyn Manson fans and people who are affected a lot by this music, the idea of somebody like Satan doesn't necessarily represent evil; it represents an anti-mainstream mindset.

OSBOURNE: Anti-establishment, right. Like yourself, I have been treated like the fucking antichrist. I've now been sued by about 25 people who claim their kids committed suicide from listening to my music. That's total crap.

MANSON: I've always said that if someone is stupid enough to want to kill themselves over music, then that's what they deserve. That's one less stupid person in the world.

OSBOURNE: It would be a very bad career move on my part, don't you think, if I intentionally put out records that make people commit suicide? If everyone who buys the record is gonna fucking shoot themselves, then the follow-up wouldn't sell many records, would it?

GW: Marilyn, can you recall the first time you heard an Ozzy Osbourne or Black Sabbath record?

MANSON: When I was a kid. I went to a private Christian school where they really discouraged us from listening to music. Once, they had a seminar where they said, "Now this is the type of stuff you can't be listening to." They held up albums by Black Sabbath, Queen, Led Zeppelin...and played them backwards. Immediately, of course, this is what I became interested in listening to, because I wanted to know why they didn't want me to hear it. One thing I didn't realize was that my parents had the first Black Sabbath album in their collection.

I remember when I first put it on, it scared me a little bit. It was dark, in its sound and in what was being said. I was immediately attracted to it. I guess that was the part of me that really wanted to get it, because it felt like that had been suppressed for so many years. It kinda just opened me up. I've said this before: Black Sabbath was my introduction into heavy metal.

OSBOURNE: I enrolled my kids in a Christian school in L.A. The other day my son comes home from school and says, "Dad, is it true what my teacher said to me today? He said he went to one of your concerts a few years back, and that you handed `round a big bowl and made all the audience spit into the bowl, and that you wouldn't perform until you drank all their spit." I said to my son, "Jack, do you think I would do that? Do you think that's true?" And he said, "No, it sounds like bollocks. It's bullshit." I haven't had my kids baptized or christened or any of that. I haven't made them any religion. I think it should be their choice. But a teacher at this same school told my daughter, "Well you know, if you're not christened, you're not going to go heaven." It's just a bunch of fucking bullshit, as far as I'm concerned. I don't believe there's a heaven upstairs and a hell downstairs. I think we've got both hell and heaven here on earth. It's all here for us.

MANSON: Yes. The one thing I did learn from going to Christian school was that I enjoyed the Bible. I enjoyed a lot of the stories. I just hate the way America has deformed the religion.

OSBOURNE: Weird things happen in the name of religion. Years ago, I was on my way to play in a place called Tyler, Texas. And the sheriff told my tour manager he couldn't guarantee my safety because someone from a local quarry had stolen a load of dynamite and they were going to blow the fucking venue up. Of course, I didn't turn up for the gig. I didn't fancy going on in bits and pieces.

MANSON: I had an interesting thing happen recently in Texas. I like to have oxygen off to the side of the stage when I'm performing. And the paramedics refused to give me oxygen because of who I was. The people had to force them to. Because they were Christians, they didn't want to help me. I didn't think that was very Christian of them.

OSBOURNE: You're telling me things I've been through all my career. Can I explain something to you? Without the likes of you and I, they ain't got a purpose, these fuckin' Bible punchers. One time, I got on my tour bus after a gig and we drove for seven or eight hours. We stopped at a truck stop in the early hours of the morning for a cup of coffee. We were out in the middle of nowhere. And this guy walks up to me and gives me one of these leaflets: "Jesus saves." And I say to the guy, "Where did you come from? There's nothing for miles and miles around here." He says, "I've been following you all night." I says, "You been following the bus all night just to give me this fucking piece of paper? You don't want to go a church, my friend. You want to go see a fucking psychiatrist."

I'm not knocking religion. I don't believe in bad things. I'm not a Satanist. It's just a theatrical role I play. If you want to go on about Satanism and suicide, you've got to go right across the board and pick on Shakespeare, too. Romeo and Juliet was all about suicide. It didn't start with rock and roll. Why do they pick on us? You go into an art gallery and there's pictures of Satan, pictures of nude women...In my opinion, we've got just as much right to be artists as a guy who paints on a piece of canvas or writes a poem or a play or movie script.

GW: Where you two guys seem to differ is in how you draw the line between your onstage personas and who you are offstage. Marilyn, you've told me in the past that you were disappointed in Alice Cooper because he does make that distinction between who he is onstage and who he is offstage.

MANSON: Well, you can't be exactly what you are onstage all the time you're offstage. Because then going onstage would no longer be an outlet for you. Your volume knob can't be on 10 at all times. But at the same time, what has disappointed me about different people in the past is when they say one thing one time and then say something completely different another time.

OSBOURNE: I toured with Alice Cooper just over a year ago, in South America. And to be perfectly honest, it was sad. It was like vaudeville. I mean he's more interested in playing fucking golf than writing songs. You can't change horses in midstream. You can't start doing one thing and then decide "Oh, I want to start playing golf with fucking Bob Hope." Or at least I can't. That ain't Ozzy Osbourne. And if you don't like the way I am, fuck you.

MANSON: I think that's proof why Ozzy is still as big and great as Ozzy is. You never sold out.

GW: Why do you think people are scared of you guys?

MANSON: The biggest thing the conservatives are afraid of is that we're encouraging people to think and be creative and break out of the closed-minded mentality of mainstream America. Thinking for yourself-that's scarier than any devil image. I think people haven't looked closely enough at what Marilyn Manson is. It's extreme positive and extreme negative together. It's not all as dark as people would like to think. I mean, they would love for me to be someone who tortured animals or molested children. But I'm way more frightening than that because I'm way more real. And what I have to offer is the truth. That's more scary than any kind of crime I could commit.

OSBOURNE: You think you've been slandered? Cardinal O'Connor in New York actually got on the fucking pulpit one day. . . This is a cardinal, next one down from being the Pope, you know? He gets up on his fucking thing and tells the congregation that I am the antichrist. And that's wrong, that is. `Cause you're gonna get some wacko out there that's gonna buy a Saturday Night Special and pop me one in the back of the fucking head, thinking that he had a vision from Christ. That is my fear. If it comes from the Church, then it's all right for some of these nutcases. The clergy is in a more dangerously powerful position than you or I will ever be. Because if a Cardinal gets on the pulpit and tells his congregation that I, Ozzy Osbourne, am the reason for all the badness in the world, then you're gonna get some nutcase want to wipe me out, you know? I've had threats to my life. Part of the reason I run around so much onstage is because somebody told me a moving target is harder to hit.

MANSON: What do you think is more dangerous, to be standing on stage or in front of an abortion clinic? What I always wonder is who's being helped by those who blow up abortion clinics?

OSBOURNE: The priorities in America are so fucking weird. I mean, you can't smoke a fucking cigarette in public in California, but you can go buy a machine gun. Just the other night, we were coming out of the studio and some guy got shot five times in the fuckin' `ead right across the road from us.

MANSON: The other thing is that everyone in America feels so guilty, they have to put on this pseudo Puritanism. TV makes you feel that you don't fit in if you don't buy the right kind of shampoo. And these religions make you feel guilty-that if you don't believe in their God, you're not going to their heaven. And that's why everyone's so miserable. If people would just relax and enjoy art and music more, they would be happier. It's victimization. They're forcing you into being a victim. You're always feeling guilty because you've been born a sinner, or born a consumer, in TV's case.

GW: What is your favorite thing about your job?

MANSON: Nothing compares to the feeling you get from being onstage in front of an audience.

OSBOURNE: Absolutely. You cannot beat that. If you got a gig that's going great, there's no sex, drug, drink or award that can beat that feeling.

MANSON: I agree. That's the real payoff.

OSBOURNE: And you know what? That is God given. That is the nearest thing to spirituality that I've ever come across. So many frontmen now just stand there like dorks. My job is to get up on that stage and get that crowd jumping out of their fucking seats, and I will do absolutely anything I can to accomplish that. I don't rehearse; I just go for it. Some nights I suck, some nights I'm okay; but every now and again I have one that really is a ballbuster. I don't drink or take drugs anymore, but I can quite understand why people want to get fucked up after a gig. Because, I don't know about you, but the adrenaline rush I get is like a mega amphetamine. I'm whizzin' around the fuckin' hotel room all night. I don't want it to stop.

OSBOURNE: `Cause we're all out there to do one job, and that's to give them kids the best day of their fucking lives.

MANSON: I think we will do that.

1997