Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Ozzy Osbourne, Paris Jackson New Music Video, ‘Crack Cocaine’

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It’s easy to draw a lot of conclusions from the title of Ozzy Osbourne‘s new single with friend Billy Morrison, “Crack Cocaine,” without listening to it. But the singer says it’s more nuanced than that. “The song’s not about crack cocaine,” the Prince of Darkness tells Rolling Stone on a call from his L.A. home. “It’s about being in love with a chick. But it’s kind of what you might think Ozzy Osbourne would do. It’s, like, the two loves in my life: drugs and women.”

“I love Ozzy’s lyrics,” says Morrison, who’s hanging out with the singer at Chez Osbourne. “They’re very, very poignant, and they’re not on the nose. It’s about that dysfunctional relationship that we all know about that doesn’t feel right. But it’s like a drug. You keep going back for more.”

The song begins with a jangly blues guitar lick before kicking into a doomy metal riff that sounds custom built for Osbourne’s voice. “I can’t stop thinking of you,” Osbourne sings. “You just control me.” And then the lyrics make sense in the chorus: “Loving you is driving me insane/I put you down and pick you up again … like crack cocaine.” It’s a punch line that perfectly fits Osbourne’s persona, and the musicians say it came about naturally. Osbourne and Morrison — who plays guitar in Billy Idol’s group and wrote the music with his Idol bandmate Steve Stevens — both figure the tune poured out of them in less than half an hour. The process felt so natural that they decided to feature it on Morrison’s upcoming album, The Morrison Project, which is out April 19 and available to presave now, and they turned it into a video, which stars Paris Jackson.

The song, like Morrison’s album, came about almost by accident. “During Covid, I was making music for no reason at all,” Morrison says. “I’d written a bunch of songs with Ozzy that don’t really see the light of day and I’m fine with that: I’m not trying to be Ozzy’s songwriter. But [Ozzy’s manager and wife] Sharon’s said, ‘That one song that you’ve got with Ozzy, you should release it as a single and do the whole thing: Do the video, do the press,’ which is a hugely generous offer. It didn’t make sense releasing it just by itself, so I took some of the music that I’d written in Covid, and I got a few more friends and made this album.” The album also features guest appearances by Idol, D.M.C., Ministry’s Al Jourgensen, Steve Vai, and Linda Perry, among others.

The music for “Crack Cocaine” had come about during a writing session with Stevens, and it immediately felt right to them for Osbourne’s voice. “We were messing around with some drop-tuned guitars and within seconds, we had the basic structure and I looked at [Steve] and went, ‘Well, you know who I’m gonna call?’ ‘Yeah, you’re gonna call Ozzy.’” Morrison recalls. “I went, ‘I fucking am.’”

Morrison gave Osbourne, who loved the song, the title, “Crack Cocaine,” and Osbourne wrote the lyrics on the spot. “I don’t know where the fucking thing comes from,” Osbourne says. “Inside 20 minutes, it was done. When it comes to me quickly like that, I go, ‘Is it that good?’

“We put it on the shelf for a long time,” he continues. “Billy said to me one day, ‘I’m putting out an album. Would you mind if I used “Crack Cocaine”?’ I said, ‘Sure. Go ahead.’ Billy Morrison has been a good, good friend for such a long, long time. He’s helped me out a lot of times over the years.”

Asked what he and Morrison have in common on a musical level, Osbourne just laughs. “Well, we’re both fucking crazy,” he says. Then he homes in on the song’s inherent bluesiness. “My roots come from the blues, so it’s kind of like a bluesy song,” Osbourne says. He sings the opening verse, “I love the way that your love makes me feel,” and says, “It’s kind of like a Muddy Waters kind of a vibe.”

“I think that we both respond to a good, undeniable riff,” Morrison says. “He comes from [working with Black Sabbath’s] Tony Iommi, who pretty much is the king of the riff, and I come from the Sex Pistols and AC/DC, and Ozzy loves both of those bands. Once Ozzy hears a great riff, he just starts singing.”

Morrison says the idea for the video — in which Jackson plays an infatuated ex-girlfriend and actor-singer Jeff Hilliard plays an unstable, unhoused addict — came from his girlfriend. At the center of the clip, though, is a celebration of Osbourne, who sang the tune in his home’s movie theater with footage of him through the years playing behind him. In one shot, you can even see a water tower with “Ozzy” written on it.

“I wanted to present Ozzy in his best light,” Morrison says. “The truth is, everyone knows he’s gone through some hard times.” Osbourne has been off the road since 2019 after he slipped and fell in the middle of the night, injuring his spine, leading to several surgeries. He has been doing physical therapy to get back into performance shape ever since. “Everyone loves to report on how frail he looks, and that’s just not true,” Morrison says. “I know he looks powerful, and magnificent, and still as vital as we all want him to be, and that’s what I wanted to show.”

Jane Stuart*

Osbourne reports that he feels “night and day” compared to just after the fall. He has been distracting himself from his health issues with painting. “It’s a hobby of mine,” he says. “I always gotta be doing something, or it drives me crazy. I’ve got a haunted head.” Although he says he has difficulty walking, he’s determined to get better. “I can’t complain,” he says. And he adds he has enjoyed working with Morrison on the song and video.

“The video was a blast to do,” Osbourne says, though he adds he didn’t pay much attention to the archival footage. “I don’t like to watch it,” he says. “I’ve never watched an episode of The Osbournes.”

In one shot, one of the projections says “Hall of Fame” — a nod to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Osbourne was inducted into the Rock Hal in 2006 as a member of Black Sabbath, and the late Randy Rhoads, who played guitar on Osbourne’s first two solo albums, was inducted a couple of years ago. Now Osbourne is up for induction as a solo artist. “It’s been driving me mad,” Osbourne says. “It’s an honor that I’m nominated, but I’m not expecting to get in. There’s Mariah Carey, there’s Cher, Lenny Kravitz. I’m up against some serious people. If I get in, I get in. If I don’t, I don’t.”


In the meantime, Osbourne has been busying himself with painting and has hopes to record a new album of his own. “I’m waiting for [producer] Andrew Watt to give me a call,” he says. “He’s been working with Lady Gaga. I’m dying to make more music.” Osbourne, however, is less optimistic about when he’ll be onstage again. “I would love to, but I can’t stand up right,” he says. “Maybe I’ll do something one day. I miss it terribly.” Asked if he’d do a short set if inducted into the Rock Hall, he says, “Maybe. We’ll see.”

For now, though, he’s happy to be releasing “Crack Cocaine.” “With the pandemic, I thought I’d be well again by the end of it, but I’m still trying to get back on my feet,” he says. “All I have to do is paintings and writing songs. I’ve always got to be doing something, because me and my head is a bad district to be in. I’ve always got to be doing some creative stuff, so I really hope [Billy’s album] is a success for him. He’s my best friend.”

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