As the scion of a well-heeled heavy metal icon and his clever manager wife, Kelly Osbourne’s celebrity was perhaps inevitable. Still, it was a curious blend of bizarre reality TV success, talent for performance, typical teenage petulance, and a flair for Courtney Love-like self-promotion that ultimately posited Kelly fully in the public’s consciousness.
Kelly Osbourne was born October 27, 1984, in London, England. Growing up during the heady days of Ozzy’s ’80s comeback, she split her time between proper English schooling and international hotel rooms. It was certainly an unconventional upbringing, but one that strengthened the Osbournes’ familial bond in strange and interesting ways. Kelly and her family moved permanently to Los Angeles in 1995, and saw Ozzy’s Ozzmosis LP sell three million copies, ably returning him from the edge of retirement. That resurgence led to Ozzfest, a perennially successful summer package tour that itself aided in the popular resurrection of the metal genre. Naturally, with Ozzy’s reemergence came interviews and press.
As Kelly and her brother Jack began making more and more appearances with their mom and dad, observers noted the Osbournes’ quite different take on the traditional family dynamic. And after a particularly memorable visit by Cribs to the lovably battling brood, MTV could see that it had something good. The Osbourne Family premiered in March 2002, and was an immediate worldwide hit. Fashionably brash, impossibly crass, and a bit of a loudmouth, Kelly quickly proved adept at spotlight-hogging. The release of the clunky Osbourne Family Album that June signaled that the tie-ins and overexposure had reached a fever pitch. However, Kelly’s rocked-up send-up of Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach” made considerable noise, and suddenly Sony/Epic (Ozzy’s longtime label home) was readying a Kelly Osbourne full-length.
The fizzy, lightly rocking Shut Up appeared for the first time in November 2002, accompanied by a media blitz banking on Kelly’s reality TV exposure and her larger-than-life persona. However, despite multiple magazine covers, chatty interviews, and her participation in the Osbournes’ profanity-laced hosting of that year’s American Music Awards, Shut Up failed to spark much interest, and by May 2003, Kelly had been dropped from Epic. The setback neither slowed her down nor shut her up, and by autumn Kelly had resurfaced on the Sanctuary label. Rather than releasing new material (it was rumored Kelly had had an album in the can at Epic before her dismissal), Sanctuary reissued Shut Up in September 2003 as Changes. It included live material and new cover art, as well as the title track and lead single, a refashioned Kelly/Ozzy duet version of the old Black Sabbath Vol. 4 ballad.
It continued to be an eventful life for Kelly and her family. With another season of The Osbournes in full swing, Kelly announced that she had been suffering from depression. Then there was the dissolution of her relationship with Used singer Bert McCracken, the announcement of her mother’s fight with cancer, Ozzy’s serious injury in an ATV accident, and Jack’s entrance into drug rehab. Ozzy also scuffled with a burglar at the family’s Buckinghamshire estate. But Kelly also received strong notices for her actress turn in the short-lived ABC teen drama Life as We Know It, and laid plans for another album even as she labored through rehab. Sleep in the Nothing appeared via Sanctuary in June 2005, with production and co-writing from hitmaker Linda Perry. It trashed the rock sound of her debut for stark dance-pop influenced heavily by the 1980s, a sound Kelly said was more representative of her tastes.