Ozzy Osbourne, the Prince of Darkness, has been wreaking havoc for over half a century, 40 of those years as a solo artist. We've already counted down the 10 Best Covers of Black Sabbath Songs and now it's time to pour through the flip side — the 10 Best Covers of Ozzy Osbourne Songs.
After being ousted from Black Sabbath in 1979 for unmanageable drug use and flippant commitment. The fact that this came from guys who were snorting literal piles of cocaine and already in a state of disrepair themselves really speaks to the level of substance abuse on Ozzy's behalf. Drinking what little health he had left away in a hotel room while simultaneously pissing away the rest of his cash, it was Sharon Arden (his manager who he'd later marry) who encouraged the erstwhile Sabbath frontman to get a group together and pursue a solo career.
The result was a remarkable twist of fate as Ozzy rose to become a figurehead of '80s metal and, eventually, a household name worldwide. He did on the strength of an unstoppable catalog (through 1992's No More Tears) and a trio of insanely talented guitar players — Randy Rhoads, Jake E. Lee and Zakk Wylde.
With that said, it's a bit befuddling as to why there's not a mile-long list of cover selections to choose from for our purposes here. Regardless, even if there were 150 metal covers of Ozzy songs to choose from, we'd still have looked beyond the scope of heavy metal as we have here, including punk, jazz and, yes, a marching band take on these legendary tracks.
Moonspell, "Mr. Crowley"Originally on 'Blizzard of Ozz'
A song about legendary occultist Aleister Crowley naturally lends itself to the gothic incantations of Portugal’s Moonspell. Cradle of Filth added their signature touch on their cover of this Blizzard of Ozz triumph, but we’re a sucker for that vampiric timbre of Moonspell’s Fernando Ribeiro.
Motorhead, "Hellraiser"Originally on 'No More Tears'
Lemmy Kilmister had a heavy hand in the lyric writing on Ozzy’s No More Tears record. The most quintessentially Lemmy of all his contributions has to be “Hellraiser,” which resurfaced one year later when Motorhead put out their March or Die album in ’92. In our estimation, Motorhead’s version trumps the original.
Black Label Society, "No More Tears"Originally on 'No More Tears'
Confession: We debated not including this one because, well, Zakk Wylde helped write the damn original! It’s not like there’s an official rulebook for this sort of thing (that’ll be our next list — a list of rules for making lists) and Black Label Society really beefed up “No More Tears” to the point it just had to go in. Somehow, the guitar tone carries even more weight on the BLS take and it’s cool to hear Zakk sing more than backing vocals on an Ozzy jam.
Shadows Fall, "Bark at the Moon"Originally on 'Bark at the Moon'
Showcasing the “metal” influences behind their metalcore sound, Shadows Fall skillfully took on “Bark at the Moon,” the title track to Ozzy’s 1983 album and first with guitarist Jake E. Lee. This cover is faithful to the original (with some double kick embellishments) and the band even went so far as to recreate the original music video, donning frilly, white shirts and black vests. Brian Fair got a bit of a werewolf makeover, too.
Sleep, "Over the Mountain"Originally on 'Diary of a Madman'
Sleep’s cover of “Over the Mountain” possesses one of the all-time great “gotcha” moments. Nothing seems amiss at first — signature drum fill to kick things off and a pretty standard take on an Ozzy classic. Once that opening passage is through, Sleep pull the rug out from underneath and cut it down to half-speed. If you wondered what a solo Ozzy song would sound like if Black Sabbath wrote it, wonder no more.
Ohio University Marching 110, "Crazy Train"Originally on 'Blizzard of Ozz'
Some songs are so uniquely great they wind up being nauseating — victims of undying radio overplay. “Crazy Train” is among those casualties (“Smoke on the Water” and “Iron Man” counted among the lot), but damn is it refreshing when a collegiate marching band plays it! Listen, no metal band is topping the original and to even attempt to is wholeheartedly futile. Ohio University’s Marching 110, we graciously thank you for your reinvention of this iconic song.
Alex Skolnick Trio, "Revelation (Mother Earth)"Originally on 'Blizzard of Ozz'
Admittedly, this is a tough one to discern, but maybe that’s because we don’t have a degree in jazz performance like trio leader Alex Skolnick, also of Testament. We know you headbangers like your weedly-dees and noodly-doos in tech-death, but open your mind with the Alex Skolnick Trio and a different shade of noodling. A cover of “Revelation (Mother Earth)” may be the ideal way to get your feet wet.
Powerwolf, "Shot in the Dark"Originally on 'The Ultimate Sin'
If “Shot in the Dark” didn’t exist, it’s tough to imagine Germany’s Powerwolf would exist either, or at least in the same synth-happy incarnation they do now. With its airy keyboard touches, sharp riffing, stripped back verse and sing-along chorus, this The Ultimate Sin original represented was the ‘80s metal companion to the AOR mentality in the ‘70s without all that sappy power ballad glam nonsense. Powerwolf might play it safe here, but tinkering with this song too much would be an act of real ultimate sin.
Strung Out, "Bark at the Moon"Originally on 'Bark at the Moon'
We were really hoping to avoid repeat songs here, but, again, there’s no rulebook for this thing. One of the prevailing stereotypes about punk is that their guitarists only know three chords, maybe four. It’s not that they don’t know more than that — they just choose not to, ya dummies. Strung Out sped up “Bark at the Moon” with a defiant punk energy and — gasp! — demonstrated they’ve got some real chops and can certainly manage to use all six of those strings quite well.
Deceased, "S.A.T.O."Originally on 'Diary of a Madman'
“Mr. Crowley” is a chilling jam, no doubt, but it’s got nothing on “S.A.T.O.,” the darkest track in the Ozzy catalog and also the one with the most out of control bass line from songwriter Bob Daisley. It’s a natural fit for Deceased’s ghoulish blend of death metal and thrash (horror themes a-go-go), who put some more soul-ache on an already gloomy original.