Originally published on Feb. 16, 2003. Express-News
Wednesday will mark the 21st anniversary of a riot at the HemisFair Arena that left 11 full-size windows smashed and resulted in dozens of arrests during a concert by British heavy metal rocker Ozzy Osbourne.
But Osbourne's defiling of the Alamo Cenotaph and public intoxication arrest near the Alamo hours earlier on Feb. 19, 1982, is the incident that became a part of local lore.
He would return to San Antonio more than 10 years later, sober and apologetic for desecrating the stone monument honoring the Alamo defenders.
Osbourne was to do a magazine shoot in Alamo Plaza before his 1982 concert, but was arrested about 3 p.m., after being seen urinating on the Cenotaph. The star, booked under the name John Michael Osbourne, was cooperative, the San Antonio Light reported.
After concert promoter Jack Orbin posted a $40 bond to have him released from jail, Osbourne, whose tour gimmick was to play the role of a rock 'n' roll madman, jokingly bragged about the incident, saying it was something he had wanted to do.
Osbourne told the Light his jail visit had put him in a mood to "do something bizarre" at his concert that night in the HemisFair Arena, which was razed in 1995.
Most of the people who broke windows at the concert were rock-throwing fans outside who could not get tickets. The show sold out about two hours before the event, police said. Of a mob of about 250 people, 24 were arrested.
City Council members, including Bernardo Eureste and Helen Dutmer, were infuriated by the riot and Osbourne's comments about his arrest. They vowed to ban him from city-owned facilities. Although no such ban was written as an ordinance or resolution, the city rejected requests several years later to book Osbourne concerts in the arena.
In a 1991 concert tour, Osbourne played in Austin and Dallas, but bypassed San Antonio. But Orbin, arguing that the 1982 arrest had helped Osbourne come to grips with his drug and alcohol abuse, hoped to bring him back to the city in 1992.
In 1992, then-Mayor Nelson Wolff initially reacted with disgust when told Osbourne would return with Oct. 1 and Oct. 3 shows at the county-owned Freeman Coliseum. Wolff said he felt Osbourne set a bad example for youths.
But the mayor's heart softened after Osbourne met Wolff, and donated $10,000 to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. He also filmed a promotion for the city's youth-recreation program.
By 1992, Osbourne had married his manager, Sharon Osbourne, and become a father. And since checking in at the Betty Ford Clinic in 1987, he had adopted a healthier lifestyle.
"It's a shame that I haven't been able to go to San Antonio," Osbourne, then 43, told the Light a few days before his return to the city.
He recalled the arrest near the Alamo as "one of the wreckages of my past" related to an addiction to alcohol.
Because of long lines at the coliseum gates, some fans missed the first opening act. But local concert reviews praised Osbourne's Oct. 1, 1992, two-hour show, and noted his fit appearance, due to weight loss since his recovery.
Osbourne, showing a softer comedic style that had replaced his earlier darker concert persona, returned to San Antonio in 1996, performing for nearly 10,000 fans at the Alamodome.
He lately has emerged as an entertainment novelty, this time as the star of an MTV reality program "The Osbournes" about his life with his family.