Black Sabbath’s frontman Ozzy Osbourne had a penchant for showmanship with outrageous acts. But did you know that Osbourne hired a little person to fulfill his idea to introduce a dwarf in his live performances?
Ozzy Osbourne’s “personal dwarf,” John Edward Allen, was an English actor who starred in films such as Bladerunner and Eyes of Laura Mars. He toured with Osbourne from 1981-1983, often being hung onstage as part of the act.
Who was John Edward Allen?
John Edward Allen was born on March 27, 1950, in Southampton, Hampshire, England. Allen attended Aldermoor School and then to Redbridge School. As a dwarf, he was not allowed to play football because the staff feared he might get hurt. Allen then proceeded to attend the Lord Mayor Treloar College at Alton.
Allen then became a tailor in the London Road area of Southampton but has always dreamt of acting. He soon made theater performances in the area, acting as a witch in Macbeth, Oscar in The Odd Couple, Cousin Lymon in the Sad Caf, and The Artful Dodger in Oliver.
At one time, he visited his sister in North America with his mother. This is where he started getting parts in New York’s Broadway. Allen eventually got acting roles in movies, joining Harrison Ford in the 1982 Bladerunner and Sylvester Stallone in Paradise Alley.
Allen also starred in the movies Eyes of Laura Mars, Side Show, Under the Rainbow, Buck Rogers, Protector, Tales from the Darkside, Offbeat, Swamp Thing, Super Boy, and Snow White in the Black Forest. He also performed for the late president Jimmy Carter in the Whitehouse sometime in the 1970s as one of the seven dwarfs. (Source: Daily Echo)
Allen had a drinking problem, which lasted until the time of his death. It was known and noted that Allen loved to drink. He loved it as much as Ozzy Osbourne did, which was a very alarming note given Osbourne’s track record.
After Allen’s time with Osbourne, he starred in a few other films and eventually moved back to England, appearing in a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs pantomime in Bristol and Eastbourne. Allen passed away at the age of 49 due to a drug overdose. (Source: Dangerous Minds)
Ozzy Osbourne Stint
Ozzy Osbourne was fired from the Black Sabbath in 1979 due to alcohol and drug problems. He was quickly replaced by the Rainbow vocalist Ronnie James Dio. Osbourne began his solo career in the same year, captivating the audience with his outrageous public acts.
In 1981, Osbourne was fascinated with the idea of introducing a dwarf in his live performances. He then hired Allen as his dwarf, renaming him Ronnie as a direct insult to Dio, who was only 5’4. Allen joined Osbourne’s Diary of a Madman and Speak of the Devil tours. Allen’s role as a dwarf was usually to bring drinks and towels during Osbourne’s performances. He would also be regularly hung by a noose as part of the act. Allen was hung during Osbourne’s performance of Goodbye to Romance, the song he wrote about his leaving Black Sabbath.
Allen and Osbourne’s relationship was founded on their overindulgence of alcohol and drugs, and usually, things didn’t go well with Allen because of Osbourne’s unusual sense of humor. At one time, Osbourne got irritated with Allen because Allen was usually late and usually drunk. Osbourne threw him in the luggage compartment of the tour bus.
When Osbourne was confronted with it, he stated that Allen was his dwarf and could do whatever he pleased. To which Allen responds with affirmation on Osbourne’s statement. Allen’s stint ended when he decided to leave Osbourne in 1983, after the death of guitarist Randy Rhodes and other band members in a plane crash. (Source: Far Out Magazine)