Unbeknownst to Mark Sandwell, a vinyl-hunting trip on his lunch break would bring the devote metal, punk and hardcore fan a piece of heavy metal history.
The year is 2010. Sandwell was making his rounds at record stores and market stalls when he discovered a hidden gem: an original, framed gold disc of Ozzy Osbourne‘s 1980 classic Blizzard Of Ozz that was stolen from Osbourne years before.
“I found it in a car boot sale on a table of random junk,” he says. “It was still in the frame, but the glass was missing. I asked how much they wanted – a tenner! It didn’t cross my mind it was actually an original – I was used to finding all the cheap replicas you can buy.”
Thinking the gold disc was a replica, Sandwell kept the rare item in a plastic bag in a spare room for a decade until he recently got it cleaned up and re-glazed. That’s when he posted it on Instagram, and things got a lot more interesting.
“Within ten minutes a music promoter friend of mine in Manchester got in touch,” Sandwell says. “He told me the disc was stolen, that he was friends with the daughter of Ozzy’s current manager and that he would contact her. I thought ‘bloody hell!’, deleted my post and wondered what the next step would be. I knew I’d have to give it back – it’s like having someone’s trophy, someone’s war medals; what I didn’t expect was [Ozzy’s management] to be so cool about it.”
Osbourne’s team got in touch with Sandwell to get the gold disk back. They offered “something cool” in exchange.