I Am OZZY
Review by ~ Aniruddh "Andrew" Bansal
Release Date: January 25th, 2010
Authors: Ozzy Osbourne with Chris Ayres
Publishers: Grand Central Publishing
Hardcover 416 pages
My rating points: 9 out of 10
Ozzy Osbourne has taken us through a wonderful in-depth journey that has been his life. When I picked up the book, I knew that I'll find it to be very interesting, but I can honestly say that it exceeded all my expectations.
Ozzy has told his story in two parts, part 1 'In The Beginning ...' in which he talks about everything from his childhood to his getting fired from Black Sabbath in 1979 while part 2 'Starting Over' takes us from there to his own band's quest and brings us almost to the present day Ozzy. The book also contains an awesome collection of pictures. Part 1 is the real gem here. For a Black Sabbath and Ozzy fan, it is nothing short of priceless.
He starts off by telling us the various ways in which he tried to earn money and support his family in his childhood days, some of which will leave you go, 'Wow! Ozzy did THAT?' He gives a greatly detailed account of whatever happened to him and around him in those days, including his stint in prison. He also gives glimpses of his addictive personality from a very early age. From there the book moves on to the most amazing, endearing story about the formation of Black Sabbath through the 'Ozzy Zig Needs Gig; owns PA' advert and their early before naming the band Black Sabbath, taking just one day to record the first album. Ozzy not only talks about what it took to get all this done, meet the other members of the original line-up and get a record deal, but also reveals a lot about Geezer, Tony and Bill from back in the formative years.
The rest of part 1 gets more and more fascinating as you continue reading it, never wanting to put the book down. It is full of ridiculously funny incidents and anecdotes that are sure to leave you in splits. I have literally never had so much fun reading a book before, laughing out loud at countless instances. It was more about how much shock value their music had in those days and the hilariously described reactions among the crowd wherever they played. Besides this, there are also instances where the band members play pranks on each other and get unbelievably high on drugs and alcohol. The lunatic Satan worshippers who mistook Sabbath for a Satanist band have been mentioned as well. One particular hotel story involving Ozzy's way of dealing with them and another one about his attempt to hide the coke from the cops will have you falling out of your chair or bed laughing all the way.
On the down side, such things like touring hardships, encounters with record companies, lawsuits puts things into perspective quite a bit and Ozzy makes sure to let us know that being in Black Sabbath was not always about the 'Rock N Roll'. The kind of effort which they put in to travel across Europe for the first time really tell us what it took to become a successful band in those days. For Ozzy, it would have been a lot easier to recall the good memories rather than the bad ones, but he has done a great job in recollecting both kinds, specially towards the end of part 1 which deals with his crazy drunken outbursts, failing marriage, the decline of Black Sabbath and his firing from the band.
Part 2 continues describing the countless drunken escapades he had. This is also where he talks about his love affair with Sharon and how she was the one responsible to pull him together and get his band going. The part about him meeting Randy Rhoads and hiring him isn't as detailed as the story about the Sabbath guys, but it really was the part I was most looking forward to read and it still leaves a charming impact on the reader. The description of Randy's fatally tragic accident left me quite upset and a picture of him and Rachel Youngblood, their costume and make-up specialist, just before they boarded that plane, almost brought a tear or two.
The story goes a little bit into Ozzy's gigs for his own band and how outrageous they were to how Sharon got Ozzfest going and impacted Ozzy's career, but generally it mentions less and less about the band and more about Ozzy's personal life, his health problems due to the ridiculous amounts of drug and alcohol consumption, the birth and growing up of his children, the fights with Sharon, his rehab stories and of course the infamous dove and bat eating episodes. The way he and his family dealt with the reality show and the attention from the press and public goes to show how much Ozzy hated it and the fact that he did it for the sake of Sharon and the kids.
I would mention very few points of criticism that I have for this book, mainly the almost zero mention of Zakk Wylde, the absent explanation of what happened at Ozzfest 2005 with Iron Maiden and the lack of mention given to the various musicians who played in the band after the Randy Rhoads years. These are just about the only things that are preventing me from giving this a perfect 10.
Overall, I am simply amazed by how much Ozzy has been able to remember to put it down as 'I Am OZZY', despite, in his own words, "being loaded on booze, coke, acid, Quaaludes, glue, cough mixture, heroin, Rophynol, Klonopin, Vicodin and too many other heavy-duty substances to list, and on more than a few occasions all at the same time". At this point, until some of the other people mentioned in the book come out in the press or in their own books with contradictions, I am inclined to believe whatever he has said in this book. An absolute must-read and must-have for any rock music fan. Two thumbs up!!