BOOKWORM: Autobiography highlights rocker’s life

By Terri Schlichenmeyer

Your grandmother loves classical music. She says those old guys – Mozart, Bach, Debussy – make her feel relaxed.

Your father favors classic country: Johnny, Patsy and Hank are on his playlist. He can’t get enough of them.

But you, you love classic rock, particularly the heavy stuff: Molly Hatchet, AC/DC and Black Sabbath. That head-banging music really gets your blood pumping.

But would a heavy metal rock band sound as sweet if it were called “Polka Tulk Blues Band” or “Earth,” two names under which Black Sabbath performed before making it big? Read about that and more in “I Am Ozzy” by Ozzy Osbourne (with Chris Ayers).

Born in 1948, John Osbourne had a typical British boy’s upbringing. He lived in a small house in a small town with his parents and siblings and he got into trouble like any boy. But when he was a teenager, the trouble escalated.

Following a stint in prison (because he “nicked” a few things from a local shop), John worked odd jobs, then decided that he wanted to play in a band. He hung a sign in a store window: “OZZY ZIG NEEDS GIG.”

After a few failed tries with other groups, Ozzy and three mates from the neighborhood started their own band. Tony was a wicked riff player, Ozzy says. Geezer was a genius at lyrics. Bill was “a phenomenal drummer.” The four lads tried different names for the band before settling on Black Sabbath in 1969.

By 1972, they were famous.

“In less than three years, we’d gone from…backstreet kids to millionaire country gents. It was unbelievable,” Ozzy writes.

On-again/off-again with the band, Ozzy spent much of the next four decades in a haze. He says he was often under the influence of more than one drug, plus alcohol. He married and had a family but continued to sleep with groupies. He was kicked out of the band, divorced and quickly married again, went broke and made “multi, multi, multi” millions of dollars anew.

And yet, now “dry” and in his sixth decade, he has many regrets. He abused both his wives – and regrets it. He missed the childhoods of his children and regrets it. And, sadly, he never knew for sure that his parents were proud of him.

Filled with unbelievable charm, self-depreciating humor and gob-smacking truth, “I Am Ozzy” is a delightful surprise of a book.

Osbourne is bluntly honest, but with a wink as he tells about his years with Black Sabbath and with his own band. He lays to rest a few myths (the infamous bat-biting incident, for instance, was accidental) and he’s apologetic to many, many people he wronged. Subtly preaching, slightly bragging and definitely wild, this is a fun biography and I liked it.

This book is going to be popular with teen boys as well as big boys but beware that the “f-word” is plentiful, among other expletives. But for metal fans or those who loved Ozzy’s show, “I Am Ozzy” is classic.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. She lives in West Salem, Wis., with her two dogs and 9,500 books.

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