God Bless Ozzy Osbourne was produced by Ozzy's son Jack — last seen by me impersonating a police officer alongside Erik Estrada and LaToya Jackson in the excellent reality show Armed & Famous. Jack has been scholarly in his approach to the material. He gives Ozzy a bit of carefully enunciated voiceover in the beginning — "I was raised in Aston, a working-class suburb of Birmingham, England" — and digs up the original charge sheet from the magistrate's court that sentenced the young Ozz to six weeks in prison. ("Nature of Offence: Break and enter the shop of Clara Sharpe and steal therein 2 coats, 20 pairs of stockings. . . .") Paul McCartney, interviewed here for some reason, emits some Macca-ish banalities about "the dark side," and photographer Ross Halfin corroborates Iron Man's account of the Bill Ward beard-burning. Ozzy's other victims have their say, too. Louis Osbourne, the son of his first marriage, is still furious. "When he was around and he wasn't pissed, he was a great father, but that was kind of seldom, really. I just have a lot of memories of him being drunk. Fucking just random shit. . . . It's not good for family life, really."
BONUS TRACKS Drug sponge, piss artist, world expert at suffering-as-hedonism: is there anything, at this point — after his reality show and his memoir — that we don’t know about Ozzy?
The amazing good fortune of Ozzy's post-Sabbath hook-up with Randy Rhoads is fully explored — "I knew instinctively that he was something extra special. He was like a gift from God. And having that fucking thing, that gift from a higher power — well, I don't know what the fucking deal was but this guy did something to me."
Rhoads looks, literally, like an angel, blonde and glowing with humility. Henry Rollins, always worth listening to on these rock docs, opines that Rhoads's flashy, nouveau metal guitar sound "reinvented Ozzy's voice." Ozzy's continuing personal confusion — he was waddling around the stage in tights at this point, like David Lee Roth's fat sister — only fed into his improbably huge success. Rhoads's death in 1982, in a plane-buzzes-tour-bus prank gone wrong, sent him into fresh spirals of horrible crayzee-ness. Tommy Lee remembers Ozzy and Nikki Sixx "doing the out-gross contest" by a hotel pool — "snorting ants, fucking lickin' up each other's piss."
He carried on, he carried on. The Osbournes, great fun for us all at the time (2002-2005), now appears to represent a deep trough of degradation for its stars. Ozzy mumbled, he shambled, he lovably wobbled, he couldn't work his television. Ho ho ho! "He was a zombie," says his daughter Kelly, who along with Jack was also doing her share of collapsing in bathrooms, etc. Shouldn't those MTV producers be put in prison for colluding in the destruction of a family? Somehow the Osbournes made it, somehow they all sobered up. "I have a laugh now," says Ozzy, in one of his slightly bewildering fits of eloquence. "I mean, naturally. If I could sprinkle this on the fucking world, it would be a much better place!"
Redemption, of a sort. A measure of peace, anyway, and God knows he's entitled to it. The bare outcry of Ozzy-with-Sabbath, held and displayed in beams of Iommic black light, will ring convictedly down the ages. Everything else has been a bonus.