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I am Ozzy - Ozzy Osbourne

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Genre: Biography / Author: Ozzy Osbourne / Hardcover / 416 Pages / Book is published 2009-10-01 by Sphere

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      13.11.2012 23:10
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      Gross, totally over the top, but will certainly make you laugh

      A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO OZZY OSBOURNE

      The artist formerly known as John Osbourne was born in 1948. In spite of everything he has subjected his body to, he is still here.

      In one of the last chapters in this book, he describes the day he went to the doctor for a check-up in an effort to 'get clean'. In the course of a few minutes' questioning by the medic, he admits to the odd little bit of self-indulgence - you know, occasional substance abuse (occasional? More like every substance you can think of), alcohol (how many units per day? Oh, about four bottles of Hennessy, depending on how long he passes out between them), as well as getting hit by an aeroplane, breaking his neck on a quad bike, AIDS for twenty-four hours, a Parkinsonian tremor, etc. etc. Nothing much.

      'One last question,' says the doctor. 'Why are you still alive?'

      Quite. Is this man Keith Richards with a transplant or what?

      THE BOOK

      I'm not the world's biggest fan of Ozzy. Alongside the other hard rock vocalists who dominated the singles and album charts in 1970 (cf. Robert Plant, Ian Gillan, Paul Rodgers), he struck me as a bit of an also-ran, as did Black Sabbath as a group. In recent years he seems to have become rather a cartoon-like figure, just another celebrity. I never watched the TV series about him and his family and was never tempted to (reality television is not my thing). So I didn't pick this book out of the library shelves with very high hopes.

      But I enjoyed it more than I expected to. It made me laugh out loud several times. In view of his confessions that he was unable to read a complete sentence when he left school at fifteen, or remember much, he doubtless owes a good deal to his ghost-writer Chris Ayres. So perhaps we should give equal credit to both of them. It would certainly be remarkable if he could remember all the incidents in this book. I think he also owes his cuttings library quite a lot.

      Anyway, both gentlemen take us back at the beginning of chapter one to the day when his father, having had a few beers (like father like son, I suppose) told him he would either do something very special, or go to prison. As Ozzy says later, none of the kids in his street that he used to hang around with would have put money on him making it to the age of sixty with five kids, five grandchildren, and mansions in Buckinghamshire and California. But long before that, he did spend three months in the slammer. He was caught stealing clothes, and had the foresight to wear gloves. Unfortunately one of them was missing a thumb, so he left fingerprints all over the place. D'oh, d'oh, and thrice d'oh. His Dad refused to lend him the money for the £40 fine, saying that porridge would teach him a lesson.

      He never did it again. No, he didn't become a reformed character, and was still capable of misbehaving. At school he used to enjoy heavy metalwork (nothing to do with the music he played later, before you ask), especially because of the hot penny trick. Make a coin really hot for three or four minutes with a blowtorch, leave it on the desk for the master to pick up, and look innocent when he starts screaming.

      But school wasn't all bad. At least they gave him reasonable dinners, which was more than could be said for his mum who would make him boiled egg sandwiches for packed lunches. He would open up the bread and see bits of cigarette ash and shell inside. Call the Health and Safety Executive. Call Childline.

      If you want to know what it's like working in a slaughterhouse, Ozzy did that too. He spares you no detail in these pages - you have been warned. Music saved him, when he and a few like-minded mates formed a group called Earth, who later changed their name to Black Sabbath. It was the right group at the right time, and in 1970 their second album 'Paranoid' not only gave them a top five single but also topped the album charts.

      Enter a life of booze, drugs, rock'n'roll and pure debauchery. For me, the most priceless story comes with his description of a groupie he shared with guitarist Tony Iommi. The latter had a very nasty surprise when it was his turn. Ozzy later explained that a banana had been, involved. Spoilers are not welcome here, so just go and read it yourself, OK? Page 161. Oh, and there's also the one where he thought he had killed the vicar, who dropped in to see him and his then wife Thelma one day. She offered His Reverence a slice of cake, and he was not seen again - for several days. Ozzy was horrified when he heard what Mrs Ozzy had done. He had baked the cake - 20% mix and 80% dodgy hash, and hidden it in a cupboard. The vicar was not seen again for a few days, during which our hero feared the worst. Thankfully the Rev turned up again some days later, explaining that he had had terrible flu' (or so he believed). Aware that his famous parishioner was a pop singer, as a man of the cloth he was lost for words when told the name of the group.

      But the book is not all pure farce. There are some sad and quite moving stories to be told, such as the occasion on which his (post-Black Sabbath) guitarist Randy Rhoads was killed in a plane crash, and when he feared he was going to lose his second wife Sharon to cancer. Sharon has always been one to give as good (or bad) as she gets, as befitting the daughter of Don Arden, one of the most feared music managers in the business. In fact, when Ozzy and Sharon got together, he tells us that Don tried to break them up by telling him all sorts of vile, disgusting, inhuman stuff about her (his own daughter, yes) - and presumably quite untrue. Out of deference to his wife, he has the grace not to include any of it in the book. Bearing in mind that he doesn't hesitate to include a good deal of stomach-churning matter elsewhere here, that's really saying something.

      And if I might digress, I had (well, still have, he says reluctantly) a brother-in-law who sounds like he took lessons from Don when I myself was engaged. In which case, Ozzy has my sympathy. (To save you asking, long story but I have had zero contact with brother-in-law and sister for some years and I intend to keep it that way).

      Which is more than Ozzy got from Sharon when they threw a birthday party for the kids and he got totally hammered, scaring the life out of them. To prove her case, she captured the whole squalid episode on video and showed it to him afterwards.

      These days, he is on the wagon. He says doesn't drink any more - otherwise he probably would have cashed in his chips by now. Never a man to shy from taking things to extremes, like that other well known rockin' hellraiser Lemmy of Motorhead, he collects Nazi memorabilia - even though his missus is half Jewish.

      CONCLUSION

      To go back to where we came in, the man has survived a lot. The original Iron Man that Black Sabbath once sang about, I guess. It may not surprise you to learn that the book is peppered liberally with expletives, so you may not want to leave it lying around in the wrong company.

      Some of the book is, well, a bit gross. But a good deal is extremely funny, and despite the lack of a discography or index - yet again - at nearly 400 pages long, it is good value. (OK, yes, the copy I read is a library book). It certainly exceeded my expectations. My wife took one look at it, and muttered, 'I can't stand him!' It probably looked a rather surprising choice of reading matter alongside the historical stuff I had as well. Maybe I should select some of the more priceless stories and see if I can tempt her with it.


      [This is a revised version of the review I originally posted on dooyoo]

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        08.06.2012 15:21
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        Great read I laughed all the way through

        I have a thing for Rock and Roll biographies. I've read Aerosmiths, Motley Crue, Slash and more. And I this book is my favourite.

        Although lets start with the negatives: Its too short, not enough detail on the last 10-15 years. Also many times full conversations are transcribed and given some are 30 years ago and Ozzy was drunk at the time I'm not sure how he could remember them so clearly!

        Ok now the good. Its a very very entertaining book that I couldn't put down. It covers Ozzy's childhood, starting out with Black Sabbath in detail then going Solo and his family life.
        Ozzy is brutally honest he doesn't shirk from telling stories that show him in a bad light.
        Its touching in places when covering him as a father and Sharon's role in his life.

        The one thing that stands out is how the hell is this man still alive? He should have died numerous times over the years but he's still going strong and here to tell his amazing story. I highly recommend it, not just for fans of Ozzy or fans of Rock and Roll.

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        01.03.2011 20:03
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        An unexpected delight of humour and sadness rolled into one

        I was given this book actually for my Kindle as a present and to be honest I have never liked Ozzy or indeed any of the Osbourne clan and have actively avoided listening to music, watching tv programmes and reading any media reviews about any of them as a consequence. However, I though 'give it a go' and so off I went ploughing into it with some trepidation. Its an autobiography of Ozzys' life from childhood through to adulthood, covering his family upbringing (which was far from easy), his youth (which was troublesome and colourful), his addictions (alcohol & drugs) and life as a musican (in various bands and partnerships). It also includes his family life now with his wife Sharon and also includes such areas as his relatively recent quad bike accident.

        I felt that the book covered a wide area of his life with some touching experiences that he describes very well with wit, humour as well as sadness - in fact this is one of the rare books that I have actually sat and read and at times chuckled out loud (much to my husbands amazement!). For me the book was quite addictive and really interesting and in fact I could 'hear' Ozzy recalling all of his 'adventure's as the book is written how he speaks.

        Perhaps its not everyones cup of tea, and indeed I never thought it would be mine not just on account of the fact it was him, but also I really am not into autobiographies. I have to say however, his life has been an experience which comes as no real surprise - the biggest surprise being that I am amazed at how Sharon has stuck by him by reading his tales and I have to say I admire the woman immensely as a consequence.
        Well done Ozzy - an unexpected delight that I would recommend to anyone!

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          22.08.2010 13:40
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          Diaries of a reformed Madman

          I think sometimes, I start a lot of my reviews complaining that some 25 year old starlet is writing an autobiography when they really haven't lived a life of any note yet. Well this book by Ozzy Osbourne, the legendary lead singer of Black Sabbath, reality television star and reformed alcoholic, drug addict and hell raiser is definitely the story of a man who has lived a real and interesting life, so I can't complain there.

          The story begins with brummy Osbourne living in a small home with his entire family sleeping in the same room, from humble beginnings, his school life and early life sound horrible and he openly accepts that he was destined for a dull life working in one of the Midlands many factories, but instead he wound up in prison, and this changed his life.

          His love of music is clear throughout the story, and whilst influenced by the Beatles and other bands, his travails in wanting to explore, darker more trippy music finally becomes real when he joins the band that eventually become Black Sabbath,

          The book follows Ozzie on his many stories of debauchery and stupidity, they are well told without coming across as arrogant or starry, simply a bloke who knows how lucky he is and played the game to make the most of it. Almost all the stories in the book are told with a simple charm which you can't help but feel the guy just struck gold and made the most of it.

          He tells tales of encounters with Nazi's, of his own attempt to murder his wife Sharon, the infamous urination on an American monument and lots of other stories.

          Osbourne is quick to admit his mistakes, cheating, lying and shooting harmless animals, but he is also quick to explain why he changed, how love has become the most important thing in his life and how his family are everything to him.

          Osbourne writes as he speaks so the book is littered with Swear words, but this doesn't detract from the story in any way, it just adds to the informal feel of the story.

          The book for me was unpretentious, funny and nicely written in the way you would imagine the guy speaking, it is the story of a life that has been lived and well worth the £8.99 I bought the book for at Foyles.

          I would recommend this to anyone who likes Osbourne or Rock and Roll music, it has loads of funny stories, but it also has heart and real soul, which makes the protagonist both human and loveable at the same time.

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          15.07.2010 18:48
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          The prince of darkness enlightens us with his autobiography.

          I find it quite scary that there are some people in this world who think that Ozzy Osbourne is only known for being the husband of Sharon, 'talent' show panellist and music manager. For those people, reading this autobiography will blast away that preconception like Ozzy's shotguns to a chicken coop. (yes, he really did - they'd stopped laying eggs and he thought they were broken). This book tells the story of a key figure in heavy metal, without Black Sabbath it's arguable there would be no music made since the seventies to this day that was heavier than Whitesnake. Thank the gods of music for that!

          If you've ever heard the Ozzy rumours about the bat, doves, the Alamo, attempting to murder Sharon, then I can say that all are explained by the man himself with brutal honesty - as are many other outrageous happenings which frequently caused me to wonder how on earth Ozzy is still alive or not in prison.

          He could be accused of leading a charmed life or being plagued by his own demons in equal measure. Most of the bad times are the result, by his own admission, of consuming enough toxic substances to make even Pete Doherty blush. He does seem to have a guardian angel on his shoulder to pull him back from impending doom, although he's not a believer in that sort of thing and when asked to submit to a higher power for alcohol abuse therapy, he chose family as his guiding force.

          The book is wonderfully rich with anecdotes and insights, you would expect no less in terms of richness due to the colourful life he has led. The stories of rock and roll excess in his Black Sabbath days would, in most rock star autobiographies, be punctuated with 'and then the cocaine disagreed with me so I retired to make my own cheese in a big country house'. Not so with Ozzy, after Black Sabbath he hurtled faster and further into rock and roll excess and self destruction as a solo artist. He even lost his 'clacker'. (read the book and find out!)

          This might sound surprising, but whilst reading I got the distinct impression that Ozzy is, despite everything, an ordinary bloke. He had a working class upbringing, made all the mistakes most of us do when growing up and even got into trouble with the law before Ozzy the rock star did. When Black Sabbath happened for him, this ordinary man was then thrust into extraordinary circumstances and a lifestyle which is the polar opposite of ordinary. The way he recounts his life's experiences is sometimes funny, sometimes tragic but always honest.

          In summary, his is an entertaining autobiography told candidly by the Prince of Darkness and is recommended for any fan of Black Sabbath, the MTV show about his family or just the man himself.

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            05.07.2010 16:34
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            And incredible read, thoroughly enjoyable

            I've been a fan of Ozzy since I was 10 years old, and after buying unofficial biographies for the past 8 years, I was beyond excited about this book being released. And I wasn't disappointed.

            It starts with an in depth, honest account of his childhood years up until the start of his career with Black Sabbath. This is an account that nobody but Ozzy himself would ever be able to portray in such detail. It then goes on to the success of Black Sabbath, his life with his first wife and children, his battle with drugs (there's some surprising things to be learnt about this, even I was shocked at some of it, and I thought I knew it all!) and his gradual love for his now wife Sharon. He also gives an eventful look at his career and life away from Black Sabbath.

            Most of this book is highly entertaining from beginning to end, with the exception of some parts which are heartbreaking. For me in particular, his memories and account of events relating to the death of his guitarist Randy Rhoads were particularly upsetting, yet it couldn't have been written better by anyone but Ozzy himself.

            I've read many reviews of this book by Ozzy fans saying "This is just the Osbournes in book form, there's no real information about his career in it." All I can say is that they have clearly not read the book. This is definitely a book for those interested in his early life and early career, and there's a nice selection of photos throughout the book too!

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              25.05.2010 16:57
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              Yes he did bite the head off that bat!

              Being a nosey person who also enjoys reading I love nothing better than reading about the people I like, Ozzy Osbourne is the latest auto biography to be added to my collection. He first came to my attention when the family hit the TV screens with their reality show. I had heard of him before but never really paid an interest in him as to me he was an old singer who sang songs which were not to my liking. I instantly thought he was a crazy man and to be honest he did thoroughly entertain me when watching. As a result I have started to follow both Ozzy and Sharon through their new found careers and I have liked what I have seen. I was bought Sharon's book which was very interesting and I did learn a lot from t so I thought this one would be good to be able to get the other side of the story from.

              The book starts right back when Ozzy was a boy growing up in Birmingham with his family. He tells how they did not have much money and how he was awful at school. He turned into the school clown so he could get people to like him and to also take away from the fact he was not good at his studies, we do learn that he is dyslexic and has concentration problems which he just wishes had been discovered when he was at school so he could have had help and actually learnt something. Ozzy always had a love of music and as soon as he left school he started a small band but nothing came of it. He reluctantly started work and had many jobs, the one he talks most about is working in the slaughter house. I will say that all vegetarians may wish to skip this part of the first chapter as he tells of the things they used to do with the animals and how they used to find it funny to torture them.

              We have a lot of chapters about Ozzy trying to make it with his band and how they always got to play awful gigs but eventually when they had their line up sorted they hit the big time. This is where he finally met Sharon but never attempted to try it on with her as he was married with two children. Ozzy does talk about his first marriage but not in very much detail as he was always out on the road and never really at home and when he was t ended with him passing out from the beer and drugs.

              Towards the second half of the book we get to know the Ozzy which I learnt about from his TV show and this for me was the most interesting part as he talked about touring with Black Sabbath and how they got rid of him from the band. He tells us how he finally fell for Sharon and getting married and how he felt when they had their children. Throughout this part of the book we have a lot of booze and drug stories and was amazed and shocked at how many bottles of whisky and pills he would take in a single day and I am surprised that he never dies from them. He openly tells what he did and how he felt when taking pills and I do give him credit for being so open.

              I enjoyed the end of the book as it is the new Ozzy who is now happily living a clean life and looking and feeling like never before, for me it was a happy ending and I just cannot believe how he managed to overcome his addictions.

              The way the book was written made it very easy to follow and I could easily map out his life from what he told us, when telling us one story he does tend to get side tracked and move to another time in his life but it was easy to follow and some of the stories were very funny. Despite this book being about a mad singer who lived on drugs and booze and never went a day without playing a crazy prank there are some sad and emotional times to read about. I did find some of the things which happened to be upsetting to read about as he s very open and honest with the details and how he was feeling at the time, I am glad he kept these stories in and did not just give us the crazy stuff as it showed me a different side to the man.

              I loved the way he spoken and wrote with so much love for Sharon and his children despite the rough marriage they had when he was so dependent on drugs, he tells how he cannot understand why Sharon stayed with him as he had nothing and could not even get himself to the toilet on most days but as he says, this is the power of love and for me it was nice to see a man speak so openly about how much he loved his wife.

              In the book we have 4 sections of photos and I loved seeing Ozzy through the years, it helped to make me visualise him better when he was talking about stories of the older years and we do actually have some quite funny ones. The photos of Sharon were good too as it showed what she was like before all her surgery.

              I have to say that if you are not a die hard fan of Ozzy then you will still enjoy this book as some parts are so unbelievable and it at times reads like a fictional story but we know he was a crazy man and I did beleve it all and I found it a very entertaining read.

              The book which I have is a hard back edition which has the retail price of £20 on the cover. This book is available for £8 in Tesco and I think this is a much better price. It was published by Little Brown Book Group and has 388 pages split into 12 chapters.

              Overall I am giving this book the full 5 stars as it really did entertain me. I found the openness and honesty to be what made this book so engaging and a pleasure to read.

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                06.12.2009 18:53
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                Great read. Suitable for Ozzy and non-Ozzy fans

                'I Am Ozzy' was bought for me as a birthday present this year by my brother. I am not a fan of any of Ozzy's music and was not that interested in the man himself, but I didn't want to let my brother know this when he gave me the book! I thought it might upset him! All I knew about Ozzy Osbourne was that he was in Black Sabbath and that he and his family had done the reality TV show 'The Osbourne's', which was something that I only watched once or twice.

                The book has just been published this year and had just been released when my brother bought it me (October 2009).

                This is your typical autobiography, which details Ozzy Osbourne's life and career from being a young lad up to the present day. I have to be honest and say that I did not think that it would interest me that much, but I thoroughly enjoyed this reading experience!

                The book consists of two parts; 'In The Beginning' and 'Starting Over'.

                'In The Beginning' starts with Ozzy growing up in Aston, Birmingham as a young lad. It details his brushes with the law and his time in prison, along with his family life. It also details the start of Black Sabbath, how the band got together and their rise to fame. His first marriage to Thelma is also talked about in detail in this part and he is very open about the abuse that he gave Thelma during the marriage. His abuse of drink and drugs is the main reason that he attributes the abuse to Thelma, but he also admits that the abuse of drinks and drugs were no excuse for what he did. I do not condone any form abuse and the excuse that can be put in place to excuse someone from what they have done, but I got the feeling from reading the book that Ozzy is truly remorseful for what he did and that if he could turn back the clock then he would.
                As mentioned before, this part of the book also details the rise (and fall) of Black Sabbath and I found this part interesting, although I have very little knowledge of any of the music of Black Sabbath! I am someone who is interested in people's relationships (a nosey parker some would say!!) and the relationship between the band members, the crew and all the family members I found interesting. Nothing is as black and white as it seems!!

                The second part of the book, 'Starting Over', is basically that. It details Ozzy's need to regain control of his life and to start afresh with Sharon, his kids and those that surrounded him in his career. It may seem that from the title 'Starting Over', that the second part of the book is a discussion about how well things have been going for Ozzy and his family, but it is nearly the opposite to that. 'Starting Over' is all about how Ozzy has tried to make right the wrongs, create the family life, and to come off the drink and drugs. Only at the end of the book do you get the feeling that Ozzy is finally keeping control of his addictions and cherishing the life he has.

                There are lots of funny moments in the book and you could find yourself just chuckling away nicely in the corner!! You can hear Ozzy telling you a funny story when you read and it just makes you chuckle. Well it did to me!!!!!!!

                I would recommend this book to those who are fans of Ozzy, but also to those who know very little about him or his music, such as me. It's a great read and I thoroughly enjoyed reading his life story and understanding the addictions that people succumb to.

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