Heavy mental: no, Ozzy Osbourne’s wild past didn’t give him Parkinson’s
It’s not always a death sentence, and reaction to the singer’s diagnosis shows how misunderstood it is
Fans of 71-year-old Ozzy Osbourne were saddened last week by the news that the rock legend has Parkinson’s disease – more specifically, the Parkin or Park 2 type. His wife Sharon, 67, added that the diagnosis was “not a death sentence by any stretch of the imagination”, saying: “It’s like you have a good day, a good day, and then a really bad day.”
Few would have been surprised; Osbourne has looked unwell for some time, undergoing various health problems in the past few years, from pneumonia to neck surgery after a fall. Yet support for the Black Sabbath singer has been almost universal – apart perhaps from Danny Baker, the DJ, who tweeted: “Not to be unsympathetic to a genuine hero but when Ozzie Osbourne [sic] says his ‘mild Parkinson’s’ is down to a fall he once had I’m thinking it must have been when he fell into a vat full of cocaine in ’72 and didn’t get out again for 35 years.”
The irony of Baker’s tweet – which has been condemned online – is that while cocaine use is not associated with onset of any Parkinson’s, the type of disease Osbourne has is hereditary. Indeed, says David Dexter, professor in neuropharmacology at Imperial College London and scientific director of the Parkinson’s UK Tissue Bank, Osbourne will have been born with this strand of the disease – even if symptoms only showed up in the past few years...