Monday, January 25, 2010
Book Review: I Am Ozzy by Ozzy Osbourne with Chris Ayres
I am a little surprised that Sharon, er - I mean Ozzy, waited so long to put out the authorized story of rock’s “Prince Of Darkness.” Seven years after The Osbournes debuted on MTV, and became the most famous family on the planet, I Am Ozzy has been published.
The basic story of John Michael “Ozzy” Osbourne (born December 3, 1948), is familiar to most rock fans. He grew up in the heavily industrial city of Birmingham, England with little options besides the factory floor, or a life of crime. Somehow, he and the other three members of Black Sabbath managed to rise above their surroundings though, to become one of the most popular bands in the world.
With all of his dreams having come true before reaching the age of 25, there was nothing to do but indulge. This was the Seventies, after all. It got so bad that the band fired him in 1979. Then Sharon Arden came into his life, and one of the great career resuscitations of all time occurred. Ozzy and young guitar phenom Randy Rhoads wrote and recorded most of the material that would become Blizzard Of Ozz, and Diary Of A Madman. Then Rhodes’ life was tragically taken in a helicopter crash.
Ozzy persevered though, scoring a few more hits, doing a lot of drugs, and eventually headlining Ozzfest. But with the debut of The Osbournes in 2002, things went absolutely insane. He and Sharon were even invited to the White House that year.
Like most people, I assumed that Ozzy was relatively clean during the filming of the program. His manner seemed to be that of someone who done a few too many drugs over the years, maybe lost more than his fair share of brain cells. A man who had a rich family life though, which was something that would always sustain him, no matter how many F-words were uttered.
According to I Am Ozzy, he was pretty much stoned out of his mind for the entire series. I am usually not the biggest fan of autobiographies, because they tend to gloss over the less than savory aspects of the person’s history, but Ozzy tells it all here.
He talks about the failure of his first marriage publicly for the first time, and takes full responsibility for it. His account of the robbery he pulled, which sent him to prison for a few weeks, is heartbreakingly funny. And the early days with Black Sabbath are worth the price of the book alone.
Ozzy's description of the events surrounding their first LP, Black Sabbath are pretty incredible. They recorded the songs over the course of a couple of days, then went on a tour of Northern Europe. The record company came up with the cover, and everything else. Before they knew it, the album was in the UK and US charts, and the band were rich and famous.
I imagine “co-author” Chris Ayres had to do a bit of tweaking with the raw material to get the tone of the book as conversational as it is. But it was certainly worth it. I Am Ozzy is a fascinating story, even if you think you know everything about him, there are most likely still some surprises here.
The most charming thing about the man is how down to earth he has always seemed to be, despite the massive success he has enjoyed over the years. That quality comes through loud and clear on every page of I Am Ozzy, making it one of the better ‘tell-alls” I have read in a while.