Jeff Koopman spent the 1980s performing in bar bands and he said back then everyone wanted to be Bon Jovi, Iron Maiden or Ozzy Osbourne.
These days the Powell River-based singer still gets to channel his inner Ozzy with his tribute group, Bourne to be Ozz.
For the past two years, Koopman, guitarist John Tait, drummer Tony Shigeoka, bassist Darron Cound and keyboardist Walter Martella have been faithfully reciting Osbourne’s repertoire, from his seminal work with heavy metal originators Black Sabbath through his years as a solo artist.
Koopman was 15 years old when he discovered Osbourne through his 1980 solo debut record Blizzard of Ozz. He said he was intrigued by the singer’s distinct vocal style. Koopman said the heavy rock that Osbourne helped invent is a “dying art,” and with Bourne to be Ozz he’s doing what he can to preserve it.
“It’s cool to get out there with a group of great musicians and do his music,” he said.
“Love playing it, love playing the Sabbath music and I love playing the newer Ozzy stuff and it’s totally different music, too, both genres – the Sabbath and the Ozzy.”
Koopman attributes the music’s longevity to its quality. He said Bourne to be Ozz shows draw both the fans who were there to experience the music the first time around as well as a younger crowd who may be more familiar with Osbourne through his early-2000s MTV reality show The Osbournes.
“It’s pretty cool to see there a whole span of people and I think that’s what you’ll see at an Ozzy concert still to this day,” Koopman said. “You’ll see young people right up to people that are probably 60-plus years old going to those shows because they grew up with it.”
Bourne to be Ozz doesn’t just play Osbourne’s music, Koopman noted. He describes his performance as a “full portrayal of Ozzy.”
“I’m trying to emulate as much as I can of him, vocally of course. Also, just getting the crowd going, the arm movements, somewhat of the walk. I don’t walk quite as sort of hunched and slow as him but … I’m coming out there dressed and looking like Ozzy and sounding like Ozzy and acting like Ozzy,” Koopman said, adding that he studies videos of Osbourne to get his characterization just right.
“I definitely try to get myself in the role. I even chew the head off a bat on stage, too. It’s just not a real one.”
WHAT’S ON … Bourne to be Ozz comes to the Port Theatre on Saturday, Aug. 18 at 7:30 p.m. All seats $42.