A childhood friend of Ozzy Osbourne offered a new take on how the Black Sabbath icon wound up with a smiley-face tattoo on each knee.

The simple designs have been visible in pictures of Osbourne for years, and he’s previously said he sometimes talks to them when he’s feeling lonely. Rumors suggesting that he did the work himself while serving a jail sentence for non-payment of a fine.

But in a new interview with the Birmingham Mail, local man Ash Alison, now 69, said: “I did the two smiley faces on his knees. It didn’t happen in prison. I did those in my mother’s house. We did all these silly kind of tattoos. We didn’t have computer games and mobiles back then. It was our enjoyment.”

In 2005, Osbourne spoke discussed the tattoos on Late Night With Conan O'Brien, saying: “I hate being alone. I suffer from loneliness. So, I just got two little faces on my knees. … I can always pretend they're alive and talk to them.”

Alison went on to recall that Osbourne had once dated Allison's sister and had also been a member of his older brother’s band. “Ozzy had many friends,” he said. “We all used to meet up in the Ponderosa Cafe… My brother had a guitar at home and they used to go in to my mum’s front room and have a little jamming session. Our mum used to ask [Osbourne] about his band playing and what he was doing.” He said Osbourne had “always been that type of weird kid,” adding: “Even his best friends at the cafe knew it. I don’t know if you would call him eccentric, but he had weird ways of doing things.”

He also remembered watching Black Sabbath’s TV debut, when they appeared on music show Top of the Pops to perform “Paranoid” in 1970. “To see somebody that you had been hanging with for three of four years suddenly on Top of the Pops, we were chuffed,” he said. “When we came out after watching it, Geezer Butler was standing outside his house, leaning up against the wall hoping that somebody would recognize him off the telly.”

Osbourne reconnected with members of Alison’s family a few years ago, inviting them to dinner after meeting one of them by accident. “His accent has never changed,” Alison said. “He’s never tried to put on a phoney American accent or anything. That broad Brummie speech is there. … His laugh hasn't changed – he used to laugh a lot in our house.”

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