Towards the end of last week, I made the mistake of stumbling into the comment section of a post on Metal Hammer’s Facebook. Anyone with any experience of that horrible place, will know it tends towards the unpleasant, filled with trolls trolling trolls and people generally acting like dickheads. However, on this particular comment thread people were throwing around an accusation that I have seen many times before and yet still get pissed off at.
In this case, it was related to Ozzy Osbourne’s latest reply to Bill Ward, in the ongoing dispute between Black Sabbath and their former drummer. That issue isn’t actually that relevant to the problem however. You see, my anger came from the slew of comments, blasting the fact that they believed Sharon Osbourne had written this comment and that in her role as Ozzy’s manager, she is basically the anti-Christ or something along those lines. Now, everyone knows that Sharon and Ozzy have both a personal and a business relationship. It’s not like that is a secret. The question is, why does anyone give a shit?
Take Iron Maiden, the only other British heavy metal band who can truly rival Black Sabbath in terms of legacy and size. When you think of that band, you think of all the things you’d expect. The members themselves, Eddie, the various albums and Rod Smallwood. Their legendary manager who has played a part in nearly every single career decision they have made. Do you think that Iron Maiden have ever released a statement to the press without him giving it the big old tick? Of course not. It’s his fucking job.
Yet, you never hear a complaint about that. No one cares that Rod Smallwood is as important a member of Iron Maiden as Eddie or Steve Harris, it’s just not talked about. So why do we care about Sharon? Is it because she has a successful career outside of Ozzy? That she is a tough women, who isn’t afraid to bust a few balls to get what she wants? Sadly, I think that’s 100% the reason and it’s still rock and roll’s secret shame that it’s a major problem.
Now of course, rock and heavy metal aren’t unique in this. The world still has a problem with it and it’s one that people are fighting against everyday. However, that doesn’t stop it making me incredibly sad when a world that I feel is such a huge part of my life, follows the same path.
More so than the music or the gigs, heavy metal is defined by a community. It’s not a community that always sees eye to eye and there are hundreds of different sub sections of said community. However, at the end of the day, it still means something. That mutual look of appreciation when you walk past someone in the street and your both wearing Black Sabbath t-shirts. It’s the attitude that makes sure that every time someone goes down in the pit, they are picked up, patted on the back and sent on their way.
And yea, that community has traditionally been male dominated. Heavy metal tends to attract a certain breed of person and most fans are white blokes, but it is not 100% white blokes and every year more and more people from different backgrounds are getting involved. There are metal bands coming out of countries like Israel and kick ass bands like Marmozets and Halestorm, with lead singers who also kick ass and just happen to be female. We are not quite there yet, but we are getting closer and that is a good thing.
However, we are never going to get there if the small-minded attitude that people have towards the Sharon Osbournes of our world doesn’t piss off anytime soon. We get it, she’s played a pretty big part in a lot of Ozzy’s career choices, but you know what, she’s probably also played a big part in keeping that old bastard alive over the years. You don’t have to like her, but she does her job and for all intents and purposes she does it damn well and it’s time we stop treating that as a problem.