Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Books of 2010: "I Am Ozzy."

You may know Ozzy Osbourne for being Black Sabbath’s original vocalist, or maybe you know him from his successful solo career. Or perhaps your first thought is of him as one of the stars of the massively popular MTV reality show “The Osbournes.” But now people can know Osbourne as an author, thanks to his New York Times bestselling autobiography “I Am Ozzy.”

Co-written with Chris Ayres, “I Am Ozzy” recounts Osbourne’s life from his humble beginnings in Aston, England, to rock superstardom with and without Black Sabbath — and everything in between.

It was while working in a factory in Aston, and hating it, that Osbourne first heard The Beatles, and “a light went on in my head.” If those working-class kids could be in a band, “then maybe I could, too.”

Osbourne soon put up an ad in a record shop which led him to his Black Sabbath bandmates Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward. The foursome eventually went on to become one of the most significant heavy metal bands ever, selling more than 15 million records in the United States alone until Osbourne’s firing in 1979 for his drinking, drug use and “slagging off the band in the press.”

“I’m a lunatic by nature,” Osbourne writes, and readers get to see just how true that statement is. The singer has done just about every drug under the sun — including when he drugged himself with Rohypnol, the date-rape drug, while on tour in Germany: “F--k me, this stuff is real! … Then I was trapped between the bed and the wall, unable to move or talk, for about five hours. So I can’t say I recommend it.”

Anyone who’s watched “The Osbournes” knows Osbourne was often incoherent and indecipherable, but that’s only added to the Prince of Darkness’ charm, a charm that’s carried over into the book full of rambling storytelling. It’s also chockablock of delicious British words and phrases, like “bee up his arse” to describe someone who’s upset.

Obviously, it’s easy to wonder just how much of his life the perpetual alcoholic/addict actually does remember, but a disclaimer in the beginning of the book sums it up best: “Other people’s memories of the stuff in this book might not be the same as mine. … What you read here is what dribbled out of the jelly I call my brain when I asked it for my life story. Nothing more, nothing less.” The tone is distinctly “Ozzy” and oftentimes laugh-out-loud funny — and oftentimes shocking. Forget Osbourne biting the head off a bat and a dove or relieving himself on The Alamo; they’re just the half of it. There’s the tragic plane crash that killed his guitarist Randy Rhoads, Osbourne’s attempted murder of his wife Sharon, scaring his children with drunken/doped-up antics, killing a whole flock of chickens, and so on.

While not as riveting a read as other rockers’ tomes, like Nikki Sixx’s “The Heroin Diaries,” “I Am Ozzy” is an amusing tale of the singer’s life of debauchery that he somehow miraculously survived, how Sharon ultimately saved his career — and saved him from himself, or tried to at least — and how he became a household name again to become “no longer famous for being a singer. I was famous for being that swearing bloke on the telly.”

Rating: W W W 1/2 (of 5 Ws)

* This review originally appeared in the Wednesday, March 17 issue of the Weekender with the headline "The madman writes"*

1 comment:

Alice in Thunderland said...

Very good review. I totally love Ozzy.!