The Os­bourne Ul­ti­ma­tum

Don’t mess with my chil­dren, my hus­band or my X Fac­tor fam­ily... Sharon Os­bourne re­veals why she’s al­ways spoil­ing for a fight

The Mail on Sunday - Event - - FRONT PAGE - In­ter­view by louise gan­non

The X Fac­tor has al­ways thrived on high emo­tion. But when Si­mon Cow­ell was stretchered out of his house by paramedics af­ter fall­ing down the stairs in the mid­dle of the night, the drama was ar­guably a lit­tle too real and rather too close to home.

For Sharon Os­bourne, a co-judge on the show, which the 58-year-old mu­sic mogul will miss this week­end, the in­ci­dent is a mere blip in the theatre of her life. ‘Oh, he’s go­ing to be fine,’ she says, wav­ing her hands with breezy con­fi­dence. ‘ He’s deal­ing with it, he’s in good hands and we’re all [her, Louis Walsh, Nicole Scherzinger and Cow­ell’s last-minute stand in, Ale­sha Dixon] go­ing to make sure we put on a good show. Si­mon will be back next week. It’s just one of those things.’

Sharon can be ex­cused for be­ing blasé. At 65, she has lived through the ex­tremes of drug and al­co­hol ad­dic­tion, do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, break­downs and abuse, not to men­tion count­less surg­eries, af­fairs, a bat­tle with cancer and the near death of her hus­band, Ozzy, af­ter a quad-bike ac­ci­dent. A fall down the stairs (Cow­ell’s low blood pres­sure was blamed) is par for the course. You just get back up again.

‘Isn’t that the point?’ she says in her high­pitched voice. ‘You got to show ’em, don’t you? It’s like when I started man­ag­ing Ozzy and then dat­ing him [in 1979]. Peo­ple would say to me: “What are you do­ing with him? He’s a waste of space. He’s out of con­trol. He takes drugs. He’s vi­o­lent.” And I just thought: “Well, I can deal with that. I un­der­stand that. And I know I can make it work. You just watch me.” And I did.’

She ad­mits it was never easy, but the cou­ple mor­phed from a never-go­ing-to-last Sid ’n’ Nancy into a rock ’n’ roll Darby and Joan, who this year cel­e­brated their 35th wed­ding an­niver­sary.

‘In the old days we were con­stantly fight­ing,’ she says. ‘We loved each other madly, but we were mad and were both in­cred­i­bly vi­o­lent, be­cause we’d both been brought up around vi­o­lence and didn’t know any bet­ter. I used to think if you got an­gry it was ab­so­lutely OK to hit some­one.

‘It was worse when we were both drink­ing but that wasn’t an ex­cuse for the vi­o­lence. I

sibil­ity. They are so young. They are ba­bies. They tear my heart out. But then I made the de­ci­sion to get on board and to do it my way.’

This in­volves be­ing a full-time tiger mother, check­ing that the girls are eat­ing and sleep­ing prop­erly and ban­ning them from wear­ing any­thing overtly sexy.

‘I’m not hav­ing any of that,’ says Os­bourne. ‘We’ve gone way too far down that route in the mu­sic business, and if it means hav­ing a fight over an out­fit, I will win be­cause some­thing has to be done to stop this over-sex­u­al­i­sa­tion of young girls. I’m not hav­ing any of it.’

Mrs O is a fem­i­nist. She loves Ger­maine Greer. She hates any­one who abuses young women. When her daugh­ter Kelly ap­peared on the The Jonathan Ross Show at the age of 21 to pro­mote her al­bum, Ross pointed at her im­age on the cover and said: ‘That’s not you, you’re fat!’ Os­bourne has not spo­ken to him to this day.

‘He is the fa­ther of three girls, and at the time they had their own weight is­sues,’ she says. ‘I couldn’t be­lieve what he was say­ing. But then look what he did to that poor An­drew Sachs. This is a tough in­dus­try, and it’s very tough to see your kids go through it. But you do not treat peo­ple like that.’

This leads us onto the sub­ject of Har­vey We­in­stein. Os­bourne has ‘to­tal re­spect and to­tal sup­port’ for all the women who have come for­ward to say they were abused by the film mogul. She her­self has had deal­ings with We­in­stein and his brother, Bob, once pro­mot­ing con­certs in the Eight­ies and then over a deal for The Os­bournes. ‘I never had a prob­lem.’ She stops and shakes her head. ‘And then part of you thinks: “What’s wrong with me, Har­vey? He never did any­thing like that to me.” But then you think about it, and you re­alise it’s be­cause of the type of woman you are. I’ve never faced any sex­ual abuse, but I think I’ve al­ways given off a par­tic­u­lar vibe that says: “Don’t mess with me”. If a man had ever tried, he would be dead. No ques­tion.’

Ibe­lieve her. In the Eight­ies she was once ac­costed by a con­cert pro­moter who tried to get an­other $8,000 out of her af­ter tick­ets for her hus­band’s show had sold out within min­utes. Af­ter a fu­ri­ous row, Os­bourne head­but­ted him. ‘I did,’ she says. ‘In­stinct took over. He was try­ing to screw me, screw my hus­band and screw the band – that money was go­ing to get us to our next gig. I was so fu­ri­ous, rage took over. I wasn’t go­ing to let that lit­tle s*** get one over on me.’

Os­bourne is no stranger to feuds, the long­est of which started very close to home, af­ter fall­ing out with her fa­ther when she de­fied him by not only dat­ing the then dis­graced Ozzy but by set­ting her­self up as a ri­val man­ager. She didn’t speak to him for 20 years, un­til they were rec­on­ciled and he even ap­peared in The Os­bournes.

It wasn’t only her fa­ther she de­fied – she also took on other gi­ants of the rock business.

‘When I de­cided I was go­ing to be a mu­sic man­ager and that I was go­ing to make it work for Ozzy, no one be­lieved in me or him. I re­mem­ber my first meet­ing with Wal­ter Yet­nikoff [head of CBS Records in the Seven­ties]. I went to talk to him about Ozzy. He looked at me and said: “Why don’t you just lose weight, f*** off out of here and go and have a baby?” That was the way men were al­lowed to speak to women then. I didn’t break down. I didn’t walk out cry­ing. I’d been told to “f*** off” by my fa­ther pretty much ev­ery day of my life. So I just got an­gry and that fired me up to prove him wrong.

‘When I tried to get Ozzy a spot on the Lol­la­palooza Fes­ti­val in 1996 they just laughed at me and that pushed me into set­ting up Oz­zfest, now the world’s big­gest heavy-rock fes­ti­val. I think if I’d had a softer child­hood, I wouldn’t have been tough enough to sur­vive in this in­dus­try. I wouldn’t be who I was with­out that fight.’

Os­bourne’s own style of moth­er­ing could not be more dif­fer­ent to her child­hood. She is fiercely pro­tec­tive of her three chil­dren – Aimee, Kelly, 33, and Jack, 31. On the af­ter­noon of Kelly’s first date she handed over a po­lice file to the prospec­tive suitor af­ter hav­ing had him checked out. ‘Too right!’ she says. ‘And de­spite what me and Ozzy have gone through, he al­ways tells our daugh­ters’ boyfriends that if they ever lay a hand on them he’ll have them.’

They all speak to each other sev­eral times a day. When Sharon had colon cancer in 2002, Kelly re­fused to leave her side for months. When it was re­vealed last year that Ozzy had had a se­ries of af­fairs, how­ever, Sharon briefly left him, sup­ported by their chil­dren.

‘I had to look at what he did and what I did, she says. ‘I spent a lot of time away work­ing in 2016, and I wasn’t there for him. If you want a mar­riage to work, you have to spend time to­gether. That’s what gets you through.’

‘We will never be a Volvo-driv­ing, din­neron-the-ta­ble sort of fam­ily,’ she says. ‘Noth­ing is hid­den from our kids and I don’t re­gret that for a second. It has made us in­cred­i­bly close. There is noth­ing we can’t say to each other, noth­ing we can’t do. And to be hon­est, I’m al­ways very sus­pi­cious of those Volvo-driv­ing per­fect fam­i­lies be­cause in my ex­pe­ri­ence they have the deep­est, dark­est se­crets. Whereas, for all our ex­tremes, we are an open book.’

There is noth­ing you can’t ask Os­bourne. Ask how she squares be­ing a fem­i­nist with her cos­metic pro­ce­dures (from gas­tric bands to facelifts) and she says: ‘I do this for my­self. I spent years look­ing like an Oompa Loompa. I’m not do­ing it to get a man. I’m do­ing it for me.’ Ask her what she thinks of the mu­sic in­dus­try to­day and she says: ‘There are no per­son­al­i­ties any more. You don’t get th­ese work­ing-class kids like Ozzy who give it hell. And I miss that.’ Ozzy will be 70 next year. ‘I want him to re­tire and en­joy life. We’ve worked bloody hard and I want him to re­lax. But he’s not hav­ing any of it, he wants to keep per­form­ing. Be­ing on stage is the thing he loves most and I’d be the last per­son to take that away from him.’ It has been said that she too will re­tire next year. ‘Not true,’ she says. ‘I’ve slowed down but I’m not re­tir­ing. I think have five more years in me. I’m signed up to do an­other year of X Fac­tor, so no one’s gete ting rid of me quite yet.’ The X Fac­tor Live con­tin­ues this Satur­day on ITV from 8.20pm

‘At my first meet­ing about Ozzy, the head of CBS said, “Why don’t you **** off out of here and go and have a baby’

Above: Sharon and Ozzy with daugh­ter Aimee in the South of France in 1984

Above from left: X Fac­tor pre­sen­ter Der­mot O’Leary with judges Sharon Os­bourne, Si­mon Cow­ell, Nicole Scherzinger and Louis Walsh

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