by: George Varga
The first thing Ozzy Osbourne does to set the record straight in his autobiography, the best-selling “I Am Ozzy,” is to acknowledge that his recollections of the past may differ from those of, well anyone and everyone else.
“Over the past 40 years,” writes heavy metal’s Prince of Darkness, “I’ve been loaded on booze, coke, acid, Quaaludes, glue, cough mixture, heroin, Rohypnol, Klonopin, Vicodin, and too many other heavy-duty substances to list in this footnote. On more than a few occasions I was on all of those at the same time. I’m not the (expletive) Encyclopaedia Britannica. … What you read here is what dribbled out of the jelly I call my brain when I asked it for my life story. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Co-written with Chris Ayres, whose previous books aptly include “Death By Leisure: A Cautionary Tale,” “I Am Ozzy” was subject to repeated postponements because Osbourne was reluctant to do his autobiography. Never mind that many of his misadventures — from biting the head off a bat to being arrested in 1982 in Texas for urinating on the Alamo — have long been a matter of record.
“I was always under the impression (an autobiography) is the last thing people do before they retire to some Bavarian castle or something,” the now clean-and-sober singer said.
The 61-year-old singer was typically candid in a recent phone interview to promote his book. Here are excerpts from that conversation.
QUESTION: You point out at the beginning of “I Am Ozzy” that, as a result of all the drugs and drinking you did, your brain is like jelly. How, then, were you able to remember everything that ended up in the book?
OZZY: “Well, my brain should be like jelly, I think. So, what we did is, Chris would say things like: ‘Tell me about your mother.’ He’d find something interesting and ask me to elaborate about it, and that would trigger my memories.”
Q: How long did it take to complete the book?
Ozzy: “I can’t really remember. As you get old, time flies by so quickly. It was not days, maybe four to five months. I don’t mean morning ’til night … ”
Q: There are so many stories about you: some of them true, some not, some funny, some tragic.
“I didn’t invent any of this stuff in the book. It’s what really happened, the truth. We had a little tongue-in-cheek tone, but a lot of sad things have also happened in my life. I didn’t want it to be ‘woe is me’ … ”
Q: What do you hope people will get from reading your book?
“I just hope they enjoy the book. It’s not an educational book or about how to kill yourself. It’s just about my life and my experiences. And, also, it’s about the fact that my life has not all been wild and crazy. It’s a human story.”
Q: Did you want there to be any lessons in your book for young people?
Ozzy: “I’m just telling my story … you might not be as lucky as me. If that’s what they get out of it, fine. I’m not trying to preach.”
Q: Your “first job in the music business,” as you put it in your book, was as a car horn tuner. When you hear car horns now, can you immediately tell if they are in tune or not?
Q: Why not?
Ozzy: “Because I was just a young guy, 16 or 17. But I can tell when car horns are not working.”
Q: What were your best and worst jobs when you were young?
Ozzy: “None of them were really the best. I’d get a job for a few days and then walk out. It was a way of surviving. Where I come from, you had to get a job and pay your way. By the time I was 20 (and in Black Sabbath), I could buy my own house and car, and cigarettes and alcohol. That was real success. I’m not saying I’m ashamed of where I came from. At the same time I don’t particularly want to go back to it, because I like the life I have today.”
Q: In the 1960s, a number of very good bands came out of Birmingham, England, where you grew up, including the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, The Move, Chicken Shack and Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and John Bonham …
Ozzy: “I was a big fan of Stevie Winwood and Traffic, and of Robert Plant. These are the guys who made it just before I did. Stevie was a great inspiration for me. I love his voice.”
Q: How did you react to your book going to No. 2 on the New York Times’ Best-Sellers List?
Ozzy: “When my wife told me I was No. 2, I couldn’t believe it. I thought it would get as high as No. 35 or 40, maybe. I suppose we might get a movie out of it. Let’s wait and see.”
Q: Do you have a film star in mind to play you?
Ozzy: “Yes. Denzel Washington.”
Q: How would you like to be remembered, and how do you think you will be remembered?
Ozzy: “I’d like to be remembered as a guy who gave people a lot of smiles. I’ll be remembered as the guy who bit the heads off several creatures, but I suppose that’s what I have to expect.”
Q: Does it matter?
Ozzy: “No. And at least I haven’t killed anybody. I haven’t started a war.”
Q: It’s ironic, given your past lifestyle, that the closest you have come to dying was in 2003, after you had become clean and sober, when you crashed while riding your ATV quad bike on your country estate in England.
Ozzy: “That is kind of interesting, because I’ve done some of the craziest things you could ever imagine. Then I get on a bike for (a scene in the MTV reality series) ‘The Osbournes’ and, next thing you know, I’d broken my lung and pierced my heart, which stopped twice on the way to the hospital. For me, (surviving that) was a bit more than luck, although I’m not saying what. I’m very lucky. But the way I’ll probably die is I’ll go and fall off of a doorstep.”
To find out more about George Varga and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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