'Biography' – Ozzy Osbourne, warts and all
In doing a profile of his rock star father, Jack Osbourne wanted at all costs to avoid doing a fluff piece.
No, in “Biography: The Nine Lives of Ozzy Osbourne,” premiering Monday, Sept. 7, on A&E Network, the focus is on the many ups and downs in the life and career of the self-proclaimed Prince of Darkness, from his rise to superstardom with Black Sabbath and his own solo work, to his many bouts with substance abuse and addiction, brushes with the law and health scares.
Along the way, archival footage and interviews with those who knew him best, including family, friends, bandmates and others, paint a picture of a decent man beset by personal demons, who has lived a lifetime of experiences many times over.
Jack Osbourne, an executive producer on the film, had no trouble getting his father on board for another profile after they did 2011’s “God Bless Ozzy Osbourne.” But he says the real person who needed convincing was his mother, Sharon, who is also an executive producer here with her husband.
“Her only comment was, ‘Don’t make it this easy for him to watch …. Let’s get honest,’ ” he explains. “And that’s kind of what we set out to do, is like we didn’t want to just have a giant Ozzy Osbourne wankfest. We’ve all seen those. … And so we decided like, ‘Let’s get really brutally honest and talk about his many faults as well as his many amazing attributes.’ “
Ozzy is quite candid himself in talking about his life’s low points, which included getting fired from Black Sabbath as his addiction spiraled out of control in the late ’70s, the death of his guitarist Randy Rhoads, his arrest at the Alamo for public urination, the infamous dove and bat incidents (and subsequent rabies shots) and his attempted murder of his wife while in a drug- and alcohol-induced haze in 1989.
But to Jack, that was Ozzy Osbourne, rock star, not the man he grew up with and saw as a loving father and “dude on the couch,” as he says in the film, when he wasn’t out on the road.
“If I’m totally honest, I think the person I grew up with is more John Osbourne than Ozzy Osbourne,” he says, referring to his father’s birth name. “Ozzy Osbourne is the man onstage for two hours and doing interviews here and there. And John Osbourne is kind of relatively shy and keeps to himself and does his artwork and likes watching World War II documentaries and likes hanging out with Pomeranians.”
Ultimately, Jack Osbourne wanted to put a human face to the man behind the persona and show him as he sees him.
“My dad’s story I think is remarkable and he’s a genuinely unique person,” he says. “You know, he’s really not like anyone else for better or for worse, and I think there are so many components of my dad’s life that people will be able to relate to.”