When I was a kid, I used to love to go to the music section of Kmart and flip through the albums and see what was new.
One day, I ran into a friend of mine and we got to talking about the one artist we weren’t really allowed to talk about — Ozzy Osbourne. Osbourne was known as “The Prince of Darkness,” so it wasn’t appropriate for good little girls like us to talk about him, let alone listen to his music. My friend didn’t know anything about him so I showed her some of his album covers. “Diary of a Madman,” “Speak of the Devil,” “Blizzard of Oz” and “Bark at the Moon” were all enough evidence that Osbourne was not for us.
So since I grew up thinking he was pretty much evil, it really shouldn’t surprise me that I had no idea the impact that Osbourne had on rock music and just how influential he truly was. Fortunately, A&E educated me with their new special, “Biography: The Nine Lives of Ozzy Osbourne.” The two-hour journey through Osbourne’s career is extremely informative, but it’s also a cautionary tale of how drugs and alcohol can turn someone into a totally different person and impact a family in the most negative ways possible.
The documentary begins with Osbourne’s difficult childhood living in poverty and dealing with bullies. Music helped him escape, but drugs led him down another path that nearly destroyed his career before it started. But with his manager and eventual wife, Sharon, guiding him, Osbourne continually reinvented himself, becoming more and more popular with each transformation. The documentary features numerous interviews with Osbourne, as well as Sharon Osbourne, his kids, Kelly and Jack, and fellow musicians like Ice-T, Marilyn Manson and Post Malone.
One thing you can always count on with the Osbournes is unflinching honesty, and that is absolutely the case here. Some of the stories are harrowing, like the night an under-the-influence Osbourne tried to kill Sharon, or the death of Osbourne’s friend and collaborator Randy Rhoads. But some of the stories are also inspirational as Osbourne found a way to survive through all the tough times and changing musical landscape. And, Osbourne’s tale is also one of love, as Sharon Osbourne continued to fight for Ozzy, even when he was unable to fight for himself.
My only real complaint with the special is that Osbourne’s current struggles with Parkinson’s Disease come off like an afterthought. I’m sure that’s due to the timing of the announcement of the diagnosis during final production of the documentary. But with everything else being discussed so in-depth, that section just comes off strange. Otherwise, the documentary is very interesting and must-see for any fan of Osbourne or his family, or music history in general. Seeing it hasn’t made me download any of his albums, but it did give me a much greater appreciation for him as an artist — even if he does still scare me a little.
“Biography: The Nine Lives of Ozzy Osbourne” premiered Monday, Sept. 7. You can catch reruns on A&E.