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Two sides to the Ozzman story,
This review is from: I Am Ozzy (Paperback)
I have mixed feelings about this autobiography. With a subject such as Ozzy Osbourne, the undeniable madman of rock 'n' roll, the story is inevitably going to be littered with booze-filled escapades and other insane anecdotes. This can be both a plus and a negative; the various narcotics-fuelled stories are entertaining for sure, but whether it really is what truly happened is another story.
The book is divided into two parts, part one covering Ozzy's earlier years up until his exit from Black Sabbath, and part two concentrating on his solo career. Unsurprisingly, the emphasis in this biography is clearly on substance abuse, as Ozzy's lifelong battles with drugs and alcohol are well known by everyone. Still, after reading the book, the amounts of drugs and booze he had consumed throughout the years turned out to be beyond belief. Furthermore, all the legendary incidents with bats, doves, historical monuments and wives are documented here, of course.
In literary terms, Ozzy is what you'd call an unreliable narrator. From a narrational point of view, the style is extremely entertaining and the book is very well written, thanks largely to the co-writer, Chris Ayres, without whom the dyslexic Ozzman would never have been able to write this. However, whether Ozzy really remembers all that is being told here, having been drugged out of his mind for all those years, is another matter. As a consequence, the truthfulness of many of the incidents is highly debatable. Whether that really matters is up for you to decide.
However, it soon becomes clear that with a book such as this, the music itself is secondary, even to Ozzy himself. Considering that the Ozzman is really more of a rock star than a musician (or even a singer, for that matter), this really shouldn't come off as a surprise. Having said that, it is still rather disappointing that most of the albums in his vast discography are only briefly mentioned by name, while some are even left unmentioned. The same applies to his bandmates; for example, Randy Castillo, Ozzy's drummer on five albums and who passed away in 2002, is not even mentioned by name, which is an unforgivable omission.
What this book really is, is the story of Ozzy and Sharon; as soon as Ozzy gets the boot from Sabbath, it's mostly "Sharon this" and "Sharon that" from there on. Nowhere does this become more apparent than in the picture supplements, as there are more pictures of Sharon than any of Ozzy's bandmates, past or present (Black Sabbath included). In fact, the only line-up of Ozzy's solo career that is pictured is the "Diary Of A Madman" tour line-up. No pictures of Jake E. Lee or Randy Castillo, not even Zakk Wylde. On the other hand, considering that the Osbourne clan have burned so many bridges with their past collaborators, this is actually less than surprising, but disappointing nonetheless. Furthermore, Ozzy's less than glorious exit from Black Sabbath is discussed all-too briefly, and the effects the split had on him are seriously downplayed. Also, the descriptions of Ozzy's endless feuds with the former members of his own band, Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake, are heavily biased and one-sided.
To sum it all up, Ozzy's autobiography is entertaining and funny, but not exactly informative. If it's narcotics-fuelled shenanigans that you want to read about, then this book is a real treat. However, if you're more interested in the music itself, you can do a lot better, with a number of titles to choose from; try Tony Iommi's "Iron Man" or "Doom Let Loose" by Martin Popoff instead.