Airing on A&E September 7, 2020
Greetings again from the darkness. My concern going in was that A&E would serve up a heavy dose of modern day Ozzy Osbourne, especially since this profile is directed by Greg Johnston, the producer of the popular reality TV show, “The Osbournes” (2002-05). Instead, the nine lives are divided up for various segments throughout Ozzy’s life (he’s 72 years old now), and seem to be weighted fairly … highlighting warts, family, and achievements.
The first “Life” segment takes Ozzy back to Birmingham, England where he spent his childhood. He and wife Sharon tour his early home – a home that now has an indoor toilet, a luxury not available to young Ozzy. We learn Ozzy had three sisters and two brothers, and that Birmingham was a blue color town lined with factories. Both of Ozzy’s parents were factory workers. Dad took the day shift, Mom the night shift. Ozzy explains that he hated school, and enjoyed his multitude of factory jobs even less. His eyes sparkle as he recalls how first hearing The Beatles inspired him to move towards music.
It’s at this point when we hear from guitarist Tony Iommi, drummer Bill Ward, and bassist Geezer Butler, the founding members, along with Ozzy, of Black Sabbath. This was 4 local lads who were pioneers in heavy metal rock music. Producer Rick Rubin talks about their influence, and how they started as a blues band and evolved into much harder and louder music. They sold many albums and became huge touring the UK and USA. Their second album “Paranoid” included the monster hit “Iron Man”, a true rock anthem. As you might know (or guess), Ozzy had significant issues with booze and drugs, and in 1979, he was fired by the band.
Many rock careers have ended due to addiction, but as the title infers, Ozzy manages to continually land on his feet. His new band, with talented guitarist Randy Rhoads, became huge, and the album “Blizzard of Oz” contained the megahit “Crazy Train”. During this time, Ozzy began his relationship with Sharon, the daughter of his manager. It was also during this era when Ozzy’s reputation as a wild man (or mad man) on stage blossomed … highlighted by shocking behavior at the record company offices and on stage (you’ve likely heard the live bat story). He was also banned from San Antonio for good reason. Disaster struck in 1982, but it was also the year Ozzy and Sharon wed.
Sharon, and Ozzy’s kids Jack and Kelly, are forthcoming in the stories they tell. It’s clear they love Ozzy, despite not always understanding his behavior. Ozzy is often shown watching clips of his live performances, and by the end, we fully comprehend that music and his family are both extraordinarily important to him … and he gives full credit to Sharon for his still being alive (a fact as stunning as Keith Richards still being with us).
The film does go into Ozzy’s retirement from performing, as well as the popular TV show with his family. The vintage clips are fun to watch, and all of the people interviewed (including an honest and often funny Ozzy) have fascinating insight to a remarkable life. It’s likely not many recall his days as the “Prince of Darkness”, but as Kelly says, Ozzy is “the real Iron Man”.
watch the trailer: