Sunday, November 27, 2011


I finally caught the Ozzy Osbourne documentary, God Bless Ozzy Osbourne. I imagine some people would be skeptical about how deep this doc would go, given that it is "presented" by Jack Osbourne, who is one of the producers (and Sharon Osbourne is the executive producer).

I think they did a good job: this isn't a fluff piece or a marketing tool.  Jack, his siblings and his half siblings have lots of justified issues with their rock star dad, and they all vent quite a bit (even Aimee, who famously declined to have any involvement with The Osbournes show on MTV).  While the film makes no bones about his incredible musical impact, it also doesn't flinch from his tragic flaws, and there are many. It was difficult to watch Sharon discuss some of their more violent moments (and there are pictures of her with the bruises to prove it).  It was heartbreaking to watch Jack and Ozzy (separately) discuss an argument that became a turning point for Ozzy.  Ozzy yelled at Jack, saying he's given him everything he ever asked for, and Jack countered with the point that he wanted a father. There are stories from the other children detailing the forgotten birthdays (in one scene, Ozzy struggles to remember what year his first child was born in), the drug and alcohol abuses and more. The story seems to end well: according to the narrative, Ozzy has been clean and sober for five years at the time of the filming. I really hope that that is true.  I can say that when I saw Ozzy in concert a year ago, he seemed to be in great shape and he sounded better than he had the last time I'd seen him, nearly a decade earlier.  As I've mentioned in an earlier post, I'd love to see him when he tours with Black Sabbath in 2012.

I thought that a more well-rounded story would have included more of Sharon's involvement.  I realize that the story is about Ozzy, but like her or not, he most likely would not have had a solo career without her.  Her love, determination and toughness probably has as much to do with his post-Sabbath success as anything he's done.   Even the part where Ozzy talks about Ozzfest (which Sharon started when Lollapalooza wouldn't book Ozzy) is just a bonus feature. On the other hand, The Osbournes seems to be referred to as something that happened to the family, not something executive produced by Sharon. If the show gave a negative impression of Ozzy, or exploited his illnesses or weaknesses for laughs... well, there's no acknowledgement that maybe they shouldn't have been doing it.

The doc spends a bit of time on the story of Sabbath and on Ozzy's first guitarist, the late Randy Rhoads. Henry Rollins, Metallica's Robert Trujilio (Ozzy's former bassist) and even Sir Paul McCartney weigh in on Sabbath and Ozzy's impact.   Geezer Butler, Bill Ward and Tony Iommi are all interviewed.  I think that a lot of the footage here could be re-used for a full-on Black Sabbath documentary, which could tell their story and show their impact.  Sort of like a combination of The Beatles Anthology and Rush Beyond The Lighted Stage. I realize that there are legal and emotional issues there, but what a great story that would be.

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