What I learned from Ozzy Osbourne
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I was a metalhead teenager with a DJ license complements of my high school radio station. Every week I’d spin a few records and occasionally say something on the air, but really it was just an excuse to feel important and listen to my favorite songs in the comfort of an awesomely-sounding studio.
A side perk was that record companies often sent samples of their latest bands to get some airplay, not realizing that we had about a 5 mile listening radius (well, once this guy from Sayreville called in), and the potential for getting interviews was there. For some reason, the idea for getting an interview with Ozzy Osbourne popped into my head. At the time, we were getting closer to the 10th anniversary of Randy Rhoads‘ untimely and tragic death, and I thought it would make a good piece.
So I started making a few calls, and ended up talking to his US Manager, Mike Schnapp. I tried with all my effort to sound older and more professional than my 16 years, told him of the interview idea and inquired about the possibility. He politely told me Ozzy was not in the US but also told me to call back in a couple of months and he’d see what he could do.
So every couple of months I’d give a call, introduce myself again, remind him I’d called before and what he told me, and each time he told me about the same news: Ozzy’s not in the US, Ozzy’s on the west coast, Ozzy’s back in europe… call back in a couple of months.
I started feeling like I was getting blown off, when he finally said that Ozzy was planning on being in New York in January and to call back the next month about setting up an interview, and I thought my heart would explode. So I patiently waited until I could call back, and finally the day came when Mike gave me the news that I had an interview with the one and only Ozzy Osbourne!
The interview itself was a fascinating experience and pretty much like one would expect. His guy came down to the lobby to escort me and my friend (my photographer!) up, asked if I’d met him before and told me what a great guy he was. Brings me to the room and when the door opens, there’s The Man, 4 inches shorter than me, wearing a hotel bathrobe. His wife Sharon makes a brief appearance long enough to screech “NO PICTURES!” before retreating to another room. We sit down, I position my tape recorder, ask one question, and he’s off. I am not sure I even got any other questions in, the man is a pro interviewee and just runs with it. He was mesmerizing and engaging, but also detached from having said the same things 1000 times to 1000 different reporters. He slurred and stammered a bit, just like he does now, only back then it was probably because he was still ON whatever substance he was later permanently affected by. After about a half hour, the interview was over, I thanked him profusely for his time (while maintaining professionalism, of course, I didn’t want my inner fangirl to show at any cost), and headed home flying high.
I probably called Mike Schnapp 2 or 3 times in the months afterward just to tell him again how thankful I was for the opportunity (PS: Mike, THANKS AGAIN!). He told me he always remembered me, because I listened to him when he said to call back in a couple of months, as opposed to the people who would incessantly call on a weekly basis. I was pleased my gentle persistence and patience was noticed and paid off, and I don’t think anyone had a clue I was only 16 years old. I knew then that I had the potential to do whatever I set my mind to.
I never got a chance to get my interview on the air, but I still have the cassette tucked away. My 9 year old RAV4 actually still has a cassette player. I wonder if the tape is any good…?