Jim Croce once sang “you don’t spit into the wind, you don’t pull the mask off that ol’ Lone Ranger and you don’t mess around with Jim”. He might have added you also don’t mess around with the state of Texas and most definitely do not pee on the Alamo. Ozzy Osbourne found that out this day in 1982.
Oz was in Texas to do a concert on his appropriately-named Diary of A Madman tour. The album had been out for about three months and was rising up the charts, on its way to going triple-platinum in the States, largely on the strength of the single “Flying High Again”, which made it to #2 on rock radio charts. The former Black Sabbath main man was drunk in his hotel, hours before the concert and apparently wanted a bit of fresh air it would seem.He stumbled out into the streets, wearing “his girlfriend’s (now his wife, Sharon) green evening dress” and found nature called. The city’s Express newspaper later said “he paused in front of what he thought was an old wall …and publicly urinated in Alamo Plaza.” He was promptly arrested for Public Intoxication and carted off to Bexar County Jail.
He was bailed out by the promoter for $40 in time for him to make his show; he left the jail with Sharon, grinning and telling reporters he’d achieved “a lifetime goal. I pissed on the Alamo! The White House is next!”. Technically, it was pointed out it wasn’t on the Alamo itself. Rather he relieved himself on a cenotaph in the Alamo grounds honoring those who died in the battle there. Which probably didn’t make Texans any more chuffed with him.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the concert went off with a hitch. It broke out into a riot and two dozen more people were arrested, all making the front page of the then-daily paper in San Antonio, The Light, which had a sub-caption quote from Ozzy himself : “If I had a kid, I wouldn’t let him go to my show.”
The Oz-man wasn’t sent back to jail, but he did find that people in Texas remember the Alamo…and people who use it for a makeshift bathroom. The furious city council banned him from performing there again or setting foot on any city property. Which might be more of a blow than it sounds, when recognizing it is a city of over a million people that has a large hard rock-loving community.
In the end, ruffled feathers were smoothed. Osbourne returned to San Antonio a decade later, apologized and donated $10 000 to the Daughters of the Republic, who at the time looked after the historical site. Once again he could play shows near the Alamo.
Oh, and if you were wondering why he was in a green dress? Well, turns out it wasn’t to shock the locals, nor to make some kind of pro-LGTQ kind of statement. It was simply because Sharon had gotten into the habit of hiding all his clothes if he got drunk in his hotel room. “So there was no way I could leave and get into trouble unless I was prepared to walk down to the lobby stark, bollock naked!” he explained. Only she didn’t think to hide all her clothes! And thus, the rest is Texas – and rock and roll – history.