The Time Black Sabbath Couldn't Find Ozzy Osbourne
Is there anything more metal than doing so much cocaine you start to get bored by it? This was definitely the case for bands like Black Sabbath, Van Halen, and Motley Crue, who were all doing coke by the literal plane-load in the '70s and '80s. And to keep things from getting stale, they decided to create an entire sci-fi inspired epic around their preferred powder. One that included a damsel in distress: Ozzy Osbourne.
Cocaine has a lot of nicknames: blow, China, Bolivian marching powder, the dickhead generator ... But if you were on the metal scene in the late '70s, you knew coke only by one name: Krell. Allegedly coined by Motley Crue (which seems like BS considering they weren't a band until '81), Krell was a reference to a fictional race of aliens in Forbidden Planet, the sci-fi novel and subsequent movie starring Leslie Nielsen. By the start of the story, the Krell have mysteriously vanished, having left behind only their alien technology. Technology that, when used by humans (and here comes the reference), boosts your intelligence, alertness but also gives you a dangerous amount of hubris. It also makes you really want to open a Krell bar at four in the morning.
The not so catchy name quickly traveled to other rock god bands and became an established bit of metal jargon. But you can't name your stimulants after aliens from a sci-fi opera without taking it to the next level. Metal bands soon started playing a game called Krell Wars. How do you make a game out of doing cocaine? It's simple: You keep snorting throughout the night, and the first person to pass out loses. Of course, since every player has enough Krell in them to actually vibrate to the frequency of some observing alien race, there never is a loser.
This brings us to metal's king of Krell, Ozzy Osbourne. While on the road with Van Halen during Black Sabbath's '78 Never Say Die tour, Osbourne and Eddie Van Halen allegedly developed a not so healthy rivalry, often playing a dangerous game of Krell Wars the night before a concert. According to David Lee Roth, after yet another Krell Wars tie, the bands hit the road to go perform in Nashville. Except that when they arrived at their hotel, no one could find Ozzy. Between his bad health, being in a foreign place, and seemingly having enough coke in his blood to give a rhino a heart attack, the rest of Black Sabbath came to only one conclusion: Ozzy's dead, man.
Since Ozzy winding up dead in a ditch was a possibility any day of the week, the band immediately went into crisis containment mode. They asked Roth to front for them during the concert, at which point the singer demurely had to confess: "Fellas, I don't know the lyrics. I'm sorry." (Or, since he was also still coked up to his tits: "FellasIdon'tknowthelyricsI'msorrywatchmedoahandstand.") The concert was canceled, the press caught wind of why and the fans panicked. Before the end of the day, a candlelight vigil was being held in the memory of Ozzy Osbourne -- may he find rest wherever he is.
And he had. The next day, while the bands were still coordinating with the police, Ozzy simply walked out of the elevator fresh as a daisy. It turned out that the coked-out-of-his-mind Osbourne had apparently walked into a random hotel room, chased off the maid doing turndown service, fell into bed, and entered an 18-hour post-coke coma. And while this was a very funny anecdote for all the rockstars present to add to their memoirs, Osbourne lost more than just consciousness that day. So tired were the rest of Black Sabbath of his destructive nature, Osbourne was fired from the band only a few weeks later. He may have won the Krell battle, but he definitely lost the Krell war.
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Top Image: Assembly Center Tulsa