How to Sing Like Ozzy Osbourne
Ozzy Osbourne has had an impressive solo career spanning almost 40 years along with being the original early Black Sabbath lead singer. Of all the lead singers Black Sabbath has had over the years, Ozzy is the most recognisable along with Ronnie James Dio, and as one of the original Black Sabbath members changed the face of Rock ‘n Roll with their dark and heavy sound matching the intimidating tone of Ozzy Osbourne’s soaring voice.
If you wish to sing like Ozzy Osbourne, it’s important that you understand Ozzy wasn’t pushing in his high range and actually sang with a released, albeit untrained Tenor range that allowed him to sing in the full tone of chest voice while accessing the heights afforded by the head register. Let’s get started learning how to sing like Ozzy Osbourne!
Essential Ozzy Osbourne Singing Techniques
These essential Ozzy Osbourne singing techniques will allow you to sing with the extensive range Ozzy was known for, along with developing a consistent and controlled tone which is bright and powerful like the top Ozzy Osbourne songs and favourite Black Sabbath albums.
Ozzy isn’t known for his vocal technique, but did possess a natural aptitude towards vocal coordination, allowing him to sing with a powerfully impressive range and develop the unique tone that has become a heavy metal staple. You too can build this same coordination with practice, perseverance and the right approach.
Set up your foundation
A strong foundation is key to a strong voice- with posture, breathing and placement making up the solid base that your advanced techniques will be built upon. By setting up your posture and breathing properly you will inadvertently train your voice to use Appoggio singing technique. Appoggio is the art of controlling your airflow through the extension of the diaphragm without relying on contraction of your ribs or use of the intercostal muscles on your exhale. Supporting your voice with diaphragmatic breathing in this manner will allow you to moderate your airflow in the most fine-tuned and minimal way, allowing massive resonance with very little airflow and without the need to expend any energy.
Foundation is king in a great singing voice – be sure to set up your foundation properly using correct posture, resonance placement and diaphragmatic breathing so you can learn how to sing like Ozzy Osbourne with ease.
Place your frequencies
As a Tenor, Ozzy naturally created frequencies that for the most part were efficient in their resonance. By placing your voice you ensure that you’re only putting energy into the most efficiently resonant frequencies in your voice. While it’s not possible to physically move or ‘place’ your voice in a literal sense, it IS possible to create a specific band of frequencies which figuratively place your voice in a particular resonant space in an efficient and useful way – this is the nature of vocal placement, limiting any excess frequencies. Placement is easy to achieve but often isn’t taught correctly by voice coaches with a higher voice type or classical background where placement is often mistaken for masque technique. Learn to place your voice properly and you will find Ozzy Osbourne songs much easier to sing.
Shape your vowels
Young Ozzy Osbourne sang in a free and released manner that meant he was often able to sing any word or vowel with ease well up into his higher range. As his voice has changed over the years with age and as a result of poor vocal health, you can see that Ozzy now has some troubles with specific words and vocal lines care of the vowel choices he makes in old Ozzy Osbourne songs from the 70’s and 80’s.
In speech we often pronounce our voice, which is done using the articulators including the teeth, lips and tip of the tongue. Whereas in singing you actually need to shape your tongue in a specific manner for each vowel sound while matching this shape to a particular vocal tract width that in essence “EQ’s” your frequency into the illusion of a vowel. If you want to sing like Ozzy while keeping your voice healthy, safe and powerful, it’s important that you’re not contorting your sounds or trying to manipulate your voice in a way that is unnatural to a resonant sound. As an example, EE is a narrow vowel and requires you to raise the back of your tongue, where AH is a wide vowel and your tongue needs to sit low and concave in your mouth – the width of your vocal tract is dictated either by your vowel character or directly through control of the soft palate and tongue root.
Extend your range
Range extension is a function of both your register coordination and also the tuning of your resonance. By releasing your registers with a lip trill at the very start of your vocal routine each day you are actually building coordination in your registers that will in turn lend itself towards much easier range extension as your singing experience progresses. The ‘secret’ that is often packaged in expensive singing courses as the ‘key’ to great singing is called vowel modification and involves a slight change the character of your vowels as you ascend to make better use of your resonant space throughout the various difficult passages and connection points in your range.
A much more efficient way to tune your resonance is to develop control over the root of your tongue and soft palate so that you can make subtle alterations to your vocal tract in a physical way without the need to mangle your vowel sounds and alter your words like often happens in vowel modification. Range extension is a time and technique game that takes perseverance and consistent practice, so make sure you’re not trying to run before you can walk – the general rule with singing is that if it doesn’t feel right, you’re not doing it right. Singing should be free, easy and controlled, so if you have to push and strain or even ‘flip’ to hit your high range, you’re lacking coordination and need to develop your mix register properly first.
Can Ozzy Osbourne still sing?
As a giant Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne fan, I’ll be honest – Ozzy now has trouble singing songs that were once a breeze. This is in part due to age, part vocal technique and part vocal abuse over the years too. It’s likely that Ozzy could actually develop his voice to allow him to sing a great deal of songs that sit at the very top of his range and once came very easily. If you wish to avoid the same issues that Ozzy now experiences, it’s important that you develop your voice properly and gain control over your vocal mechanism in a controlled way. Singing is often an act of coordination rather than a physical sport, so if you’re forcing and pushing your high range – you’re on a dangerous slope my friend!
How to sing old Ozzy Osbourne songs
Black Sabbath music from the 1970’s was in part famous due to Ozzy’s searching wail and extensive high range. If you wish to sing old Ozzy Osbourne songs like 70’s Black Sabbath, you first need to understand how your vocal registers work – there is no way you’re going to push your chest voice that high, but on the flipside a weak heady tone simply won’t cut it for heavy and aggressive Black Sabbath music.
You’ve no doubt heard of Chest Voice and Head Voice, but with time and training your voice is actually able to coordinate the musculature responsible for Chest and Head respectively to create a third honorary register called Mix Voice that retains the rich depth of Chest while accessing the extensive high range afforded by your head register. Learning to sing in the Middle Register in this manner will allow you to sing the top Ozzy Osbourne songs in your high range with a full and connected voice like Ozzy was once able to, and would be able to do again if he coordinated his voice in the mix register like young Ozzy Osbourne songs.
Top Ozzy Osbourne Songs to Sing
This is subjective of course, but a great starting point with learning how to sing like Ozzy Osbourne is to starts with songs that use a more subdued Ozzy Osbourne voice rather than full extension or intensity. A great song to start with in my opinion would be Shot in the Dark from his solo career, or even Into The Void from the young Ozzy Osbourne days with Black Sabbath. From this point you would increasingly add Ozzy Osbourne songs and Black Sabbath music to your repertoire and continually troubleshoot your range using the techniques above and free tutorials available at the BVS YouTube channel.
The best Black Sabbath singers
Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie James Dio and Glenn Hughes are three of my favourite singers, even aside from their contributions to Black Sabbath, so these guys rank extremely high for me as the best Black Sabbath singers. Black Sabbath also went through various other singers including Ian Gillan, Ray Gillen and Tony Martin who were all great singers in their own right, but personally didn’t fit the bill for Black Sabbath for me. Early Black Sabbath contained some truly essential Ozzy Osbourne singing and truly takes extensive training and constant training for a singer to reach their heights that Ozzy naturally possessed with his natural aptitude.
Remember, learning how to sing like Ozzy Osbourne takes time and coordination – don’t push or shout and remember, singing can and should be easy. If something is hard to sing, you’re doing it in the wrong manner and need to adjust your technique.
If you’re ready to take your voice to the next and learn how to sing like Ozzy Osbourne with professional Rock Singing Lessons, you can book a Skype Session and get started singing Black Sabbath music today!
If you have any questions about singing songs Ozzy Osbourne sang, leave any feedback or questions below!
Kegan DeBoheme is Bohemian Vocal Studio’s resident vocal coach and voice expert. He teaches professional singing and voice technique to students all around the world and enjoys providing tutorials like this one on how to improve your voice.