He has bitten the heads off live creatures, tried to strangle his wife, urinated on the Alamo, and he has even been accused of putting subliminal messages in his music that would make listeners want to kill themselves. To say nothing of the fact that he was the voice behind some of the heaviest songs in the rock ‘n’ roll canon. Despite all of this, in his autobiography, Ozzy Osbourne comes across as quite likable.
“I like to think that I’m a good guy,” says Osbourne, “I’ve done some f—ing crazy f—ing things. I’ve done some things that I’m not proud of.”
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Osbourne drops about three F-bombs per minute, and his mumbled British accent is surprisingly easier to understand than the time in the early 2000s when his show on MTV spawned a host of comic impersonations.
“I’m kind of honored that I’m that popular enough to be impersonated,” he says.
His book, “I Am Ozzy” is an against-the-odds tale of dead end jobs that included tenures at a car horn tuning plant and a slaughterhouse. After six weeks in prison for burglary in the late 1960s, he put a sign up in a music store saying he was available as a singer. Black Sabbath formed soon after, taking him to new heights, in more than one way.
“I was drinking and doing piles of f—ing drugs,” he says.
The Ozzy saga is a rollercoaster that includes him being fired from the band, starting a solo career that eclipsed his former group, losing his best collaborator in a freak airplane accident, and of course “The Osbournes” TV show that put him in living rooms where they had never heard his music.
“I’ve had my ups and downs,” says Osbourne. “Being successful is one thing, but I’ve also been successful and broke.”
Now he seems to have his life under control. He says he gave up the booze a few years ago.
“I don’t think I’d ever written this book if I’d still been drinking,” he says. “I don’t think I’d still be married if I’d still been drinking. There’s a good chance I wouldn’t even be alive if I’d still been doing all that stuff.”
Writing the wrongs
Osbourne says in his book that he is dyslexic, so how did he manage to pull off this book?
“I didn’t actually put pen to paper,” he says.
Instead, British journalist Chris Ayres interviewed Osbourne extensively, doing as many as three sessions per day, and Ozzy would recount what he remembered, which sometimes proved difficult with what Osbourne says is “the jelly that I call my brain.”
“What would sometimes happen, he’d put a different character in the wrong situation, and I’d have to read it, and being dyslexic like I am, it’s a bit of a chore.”
“I Am Ozzy,” not Batman!
In “I Am Ozzy,” the singer keeps humorously circling back to the notion that the thing that people will remember him for most is biting the head of a live bat at a concert in 1982. He recounts the incident in detail in the book and insists he thought it was a toy bat, and he even promises that his tombstone will address the incident. But how would he rather be remembered?
“Just to be remembered is something,” he says. “The reason why I said that about the bat was the fact that that’s all people think I ever did. ... I’ve had such an incredible life. From the age of f—ing 20, to ... I’m 61 now, I’ve started saying to my wife, ‘f—ing, what happened to the years?’”
Ozzy Osbourne book signing
Tuesday, 7 p.m.
10 Columbus Circle, New York
Wednesday, 6 p.m.
One South Broad St., Ste. 100, Philadelphia
Thursday, 7 p.m.
Barnes & Noble
660 Beacon St. Boston