Birmingham Wetherspoons pub tribute to Ozzy Osbourne called ‘worst ever’

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Music fans aren’t impressed by a tribute to Ozzy Osbourne in one Birmingham Wetherspoons pub

A tribute to Black Sabbath singinging legend Ozzy Osbourne in a Birmingham pub has been labelled ‘arguably the most disastrous tribute to Ozzy ever’.

Music experts at Guitar World magazine weren’t impressed with the tribute to the Prince of Darkness which is on the wall of a Wetherspoons pub at New Street, along with other images paying tribute to the city’s history and culture. Westside BID manager Mike Olley, who oversees Broad Street - the home of the Black Sabbath Bridge and Bench - also commented on the image of Ozzy calling “well meant mess up”.

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The tribute in question is based on an iconic image, taken by Paul Natkin, which shows Ozzy Osbourne and American guitarist Randy Rhoads together. In the original picture Ozzy can be seen lifting up the Quiet Riot musician as he plays his polka dot guitar while on stage in Illinois in 1982.

The famous rock photo was also used as the artwork for Ozzy’s 1987 live album Tribute. But the photo on display in Birmingham’s New Street Station Wetherspoons - called the London and North Western - is an altered version of the famous shot.

Instead, it shows Ozzy photoshopped over Randy so you can see Ozzy playing the guitar instead, despite the fact the Sabbath frontman couldn’t actually play the instrument. Guitar World called the image an ‘butchered manipulation’ of the iconic shot.

Ozzy Osbourne tribute at the Wetherspoons pub inside Birmingham New Street rail stationOzzy Osbourne tribute at the Wetherspoons pub inside Birmingham New Street rail station
Ozzy Osbourne tribute at the Wetherspoons pub inside Birmingham New Street rail station | Fionnuala Bourke

They wrote: “Not only is it an egregious Photoshop fail of incalculable proportions, it’s also a wholly unsuitable picture to use to commemorate the founding of Black Sabbath.”

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Classic Rock called the image the ‘world’s most grotesque tribute’ to Ozzy and one of the ‘Great Photoshop Disasters of the modern era’. Ozzy previously revealed in an interview with Rolling Stone that not knowing how to play guitar was one of his ‘biggest regrests’. “I can play a little bit of harmonica, and that’s about it. But I have an ear for melody,” he told Rolling Stone.

“I once talked to a writer and he said, ‘You can learn the piano but you most probably will lose your naturall instinct for melody.’ And I said, ‘That’s too much of a gamble.’”

Mike Olley has spoken to Wetherspoons about the issue. On hearing about the upset he said: “Amusement. Absolute amusement. I mean, it’s clearly something that’s gone wrong. I’ve spoke to Wetherspoons - it’s, something’s going to be put right. I think they’re a tad embarrassed about it.

“But it was a well meaning mess up, wasn’t it? You know, someone could have done a lot better. I can’t imagine for one moment Ozzy will be at all fazed by it. I can’t really think anyone’s going to be terribly upset. I can only imagine that it sort of - the fact that it’s been underscored and publicised is probably the best result that you could have got from it.

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“And I very much commend Wetherspoons for at least doing local stuff. I mean it’s so easy, isn’t it for corporations nowadays, just to get bland corporate art to try and infuse a little bit of the locality into it. I think that’s great. So, you know, not the best of efforts, but 10 out of 10 for trying. And I’m sure that once it’s put right. It’s going to be great.”

What has Wetherspoons said?

Wetherspoons spokesman, Eddie Gershon said: “ The artwork around Black Sabbath was put up in good faith. We acknowledge the comments made by a number of people and will review whether we will keep the artwork in place or remove it from the pub.”

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