The legendary booze-addled metal rocker turned reality-TV star comes clean in his tell-all autobiography.
Although brought up in the bleak British factory town of Aston, John “Ozzy” Osbourne’s tragicomic rags-to-riches tale is somehow quintessentially American. It’s an epic dream/nightmare that takes him from Winson Green prison in 1966 to a presidential dinner with George W. Bush in 2004. Tracing his adult life from petty thief and slaughterhouse worker to rock star, Osbourne’s first-person slang-and-expletive-driven style comes off like he’s casually relating his story while knocking back pints at the pub. “What you read here,” he writes, “is what dribbled out of the jelly I call my brain when I asked it for my life story.” During the late 1960s his transformation from inept shoplifter to notorious Black Sabbath frontman was unlikely enough. In fact, the band got its first paying gigs by waiting outside concert venues hoping the regularly scheduled act wouldn’t show. After a few years, Osbourne and his bandmates were touring America and becoming millionaires from their riff-heavy doom music. As expected, with success came personal excess and inevitable alienation from the other members of the group. But as a solo performer, Osbourne’s predilection for guns, drink, drugs, near-death experiences, cruelty to animals and relieving himself in public soon became the stuff of legend. His most infamous exploits—biting the head off a bat and accidentally urinating on the Alamo—are addressed, but they seem tame compared to other dark moments of his checkered past: nearly killing his wife Sharon during an alcohol-induced blackout, waking up after a bender in the middle of a busy highway, burning down his backyard, etc. Osbourne is confessional to a fault, jeopardizing his demonic-rocker reputation with glib remarks about his love for Paul McCartney and Robin Williams. The most distinguishing feature of the book is the staggering chapter-by-chapter accumulation of drunken mishaps, bodily dysfunctions and drug-induced mayhem over a 40-plus-year career—a résumé of anti-social atrocities comparable to any of rock ’n’ roll’s most reckless outlaws.
An autobiography as toxic and addictive as any drug its author has ever ingested.