37 Years Ago: Ozzy Osbourne Arrested for Urinating on Alamo Cenotaph
Ozzy Osbourne didn’t wake up Feb. 19, 1982, and decide he was going to cause trouble that afternoon by pissing on a treasured national monument in San Antonio, Texas. He was simply going about his business, partying like a rock star, and after a few drinks too many he stumbled out in the street dressed in a dress owned by his future wife Sharon Osbourne (she had hidden his clothes to keep him from going out) and emptied his full bladder on the nearest statue he could find.
He had no idea he was standing at the city’s sacred 60-foot-high Cenotaph, located directly across from the Alamo building. Hell, he was barely in any condition to remember what city he was in, let alone where he was relieving himself. Contrary to popular belief, Ozzy didn’t technically pee on the Alamo building itself, he peed within the Alamo Plaza, and he chose a pretty bad place.
The Cenotaph was built in 1939 by the Texas Centennial Commission to honor the dead whose remains lay somewhere else and local officials didn’t take kindly to the public desecration by urination. The Alamo, after all, is the site of a famous battle that took place in 1836 during the state’s War of Independence and the historical landmark symbolizes Texan pride.
Police arrested Ozzy, who spent part of the afternoon in a local jail on charges of public intoxication. He was freed later that evening on $40 bond and performed at the city’s Hemisfair Arena Convention Center.
Though the fine didn’t even amount to a slap on the wrist, Osbourne was banned from playing San Antonio again until 1992, when he made a public apology to the city and donated $10,000 to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, the organization that maintains the Alamo grounds. The city forgave him and Osbourne played two nights at the Freeman Coliseum, Oct. 1 and 2.
“We all have done things in our lives that we regret,” Ozzy said at the time. “I am deeply honored that the people of San Antonio have found it in their hearts to have me back. I hope that this donation will show that I have grown up.”
Osbourne’s San Antonio wee-wee infraction became the stuff of rock legend. Artists Jim Mendiola and Ruben Ortiz-Torres created the art installation “Fountain/Ozzy Visits The Alamo,” which consisted of a life-sized wax Ozzy fashioned with a motion detector that causes it to pee on a wall when gallery-goers walked up to it. And Osbourne’s move may have inspired 23-year-old El Paso resident Daniel Athens to imitate the act in February 2014; he was arrested for “Criminal Mischief of a Public Monument or Place of Human Burial.”
On Nov. 5, 2015, Osbourne returned to San Antonio with his son Jack to film an episode for a series on The History Channel. It was supposed to be an unpublicized event, but someone leaked the news that the Prince of Darkness was coming to their town and more than 100 people gathered at the grounds for Osbourne’s arrival. Right before he returned to the Alamo, Osbourne visited local councilman Roberto Treviño.
“Certainly, as a city, we feel very, very good about his efforts to come to our great city and apologize for the actions of a not-so-sober person” Treviño said.
And that’s (hopefully) the end of the story of Ozzy’s crazy drain.
Loudwire contributor Jon Wiederhorn is the co-author of Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal, as well as the co-author of Scott Ian’s autobiography, I’m the Man: The Story of That Guy From Anthrax, and Al Jourgensen’s autobiography, Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen and the Agnostic Front book My Riot! Grit, Guts and Glory.
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