The International Writers Magazine:
I Am Ozzy - Ozzy Osbourne with Chris Ayres
ISBN 978 1 84744 346 5
Apart from hearing a story of how he once bit the head off a live bat, listening to a few ‘Black Sabbath’ albums and watching MTV’s ‘The Osbournes’ I confess to knowing very little about the ‘Prince of Darkness.’ I picked this autobiography up knowing that I had scant knowledge of its subject and I was eager to learn more. I just hoped it wasn’t one of those glossed over cash-in jobs that seem to do the rounds these days in our high street bookshops.
In his own words Osbourne comments: ‘I took lethal combinations of booze and drugs for thirty years. I survived a direct hit by a plane, suicidal overdoses, STDs. I’ve been accused of attempted murder. Then I almost died while riding over a bump on a quad bike at two miles per hour.’ How could I possibly ignore this book? My fears of an Ozzy ‘love in’ and a celebrity triumphing against the odds clichéd tale were soon dispelled.
From the humorous opening lines right to its poignant ending this autobiography gripped, entertained, enthralled and moved me, I found myself laughing out loud on several occasions. Osbourne is a true raconteur and boy has he led a full life! What endeared this book to me the most was that you could hear his personality and voice coming off the page. It is in no way a sanitised or cleaned up version of events. This is Osbourne stripped bare telling it exactly as it was (as well as he can remember it anyway!)
His early life growing up in Aston, Birmingham in austerity Britain makes for sobering reading. The young Osbourne had dyslexia, which had not been properly diagnosed back then, he also had attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity along with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Not academically gifted and treated badly by some teachers in particular Osbourne became the class clown and performer to be accepted by his peers. Working in a succession of low skilled and low paid jobs and after a stint in prison his future looked pretty bleak, until…
The rest of the book charts his life in ‘Black Sabbath’, his solo career and family life. I found myself being swept up in all of this and it reads really well. Osbourne has an excellent sense of humour and self-deprecating wit. Don’t be fooled by his persona of mindless buffoon or drugged out shell of a rock star. Like his son Jack once said of him ‘Dad is not as flaky as he is sometimes portrayed.’ That is clear here in this book. There are lots of fascinating insights and observations from the man and his take on life.
He is very honest and genuinely contrite about some of his past behaviour and it is a miracle really that he is still alive after all the years of substance abuse. But there is another side to him, his love of his family shines through whether it is his own parents and siblings or his wife and children it is clear he defines himself in terms of his loved ones. For all his faults and eccentricities he strikes you as devoted and loyal.
There are some amazing stories and anecdotes here. This is a man that has toured all over the world and lived a life to the full. There are not many things that he has not done or tried. Thanks to his wit and personality the book is thoroughly entertaining and I nearly finished it in one sitting. It is compulsive stuff. The only other autobiography I have enjoyed this much was David Niven’s ‘The Moons a Balloon’ and that is very good company indeed.
I must say this book really did blow me away. I did not expect it to be even half the good read that it turned out to be. Don’t just read it as just a ‘rock ‘n roll’ story; it goes much deeper than that. It is a celebration of a life lived to the full. Quite simply the best autobiography I have ever read.