Last week, I found myself stuck at Heathrow for three hours. I had eight pounds worth of loose change bouncing around in my pocket. Rather than blow it all on candy, I bought a copy of Ozzy Osbourne’s autobiography I Am Ozzy.
I wasn’t expecting much. After catching a few episodes of The Osbournes back in the early ’00s, I figured that Ozzy’s years of reckless self abuse had rendered him a blubbering, monosyllabic train wreck. I thought wrong.
Maybe it’s primarily due to the efforts of his co-author but Ozzy proves himself to be one hell of a storyteller. I’m at about the halfway mark and I’m ready to proclaim I Am Ozzy one of the top 3 music autobiographies of all time. It warrants a spot alongside Cash by Johnny Cash and David Lee Roth’s Crazy From the Heat.
Ozzy’s prose goes from wild to heartbreaking to disgusting to enraging, sometimes all within a few pages. He’s the ultimate real world anti-hero; a man who was a legitimate psychopath for much of his life but a charming one, for what it’s worth. During one passage, he recalls going on a drug-fueled, midnight rampage across his estate with a samurai sword after returning home from a US tour in the late ’70s. The things he does are terrifying. After hearing all of the calamity, his elderly neighbor goes outside and tracks him down. Upon finding him blood-soaked and manic, she coolly remarks, “Ah, Mr. Osbourne. I see you’ve returned from America. *Unwinding* are we?” before returning to bed.
It’s this sort of pitch-black humor that makes the book impossible to put down. Additional anecdotes include Ozzy happily mocking Black Sabbath’s satanic followers, the first time he played one of his records for his staunch/conservative father and why he didn’t wear shoes for much of the late ’60s.
I’ll leave you with this bit from page 83:
“I don’t remember when we first played ‘Black Sabbath’ but I sure as hell remember the audience’s reaction: all the girls ran out of the venue, screaming. ‘Isn’t the whole point of being in a band to get a shag, not to make chicks run away?’ I complained to the others, afterwards.
‘They’ll get used to it,’ Geezer responded.”