Nickson, Chris – Ozzy Knows Best (Book Review)

Spread the metal:

Reviewed: May 2012
Released: 2002, St. Martin\’s Griffin
Rating: 2.0/5
Reviewer: JP


An unauthorized look at Ozzy focusing on his MTV years. Lacks substance.

This book came out in 2002 and due to it’s light-weight nature I didn’t bother getting this for years until I recently found it used. Penned by Chris Nickson, a Seattle based writer (originally from the UK), OZZY KNOWS BEST is a pretty standard paperback, 250 pages and about a dozen black and white photos in the middle. Nickson is a pop culture writer who has written books about other actors and pop stars and to my knowledge this is first attempt at covering a Metal guy.

While this book is mildly entertaining it really lacks substance. The main focus is on Ozzy as a father figure and revolves heavily around Ozzy’s non-musical endeavours specifically the MTV reality show, ‘The Osbournes’. This book came out just after the first season of the show. Most of us, (dare I speak for all Ozzy fans) shook our heads in mild disgust at the bumbling antics of the once proud “Prince Of Darkness’, reduced to being trotted out in front of the cameras, while legions of Americans laughed at him and his dysfunctional family. Nickson on the other hand jumped right on the bandwagon and capitalized on the run-away success of the show.

Nickson runs through a fairly standard, unauthorized biography with a tendency to emphasize the shock value of the events in Ozzy’s life. The book gets very repetitive. He tells references the story about when Sharon threw the ham over the fence at the neighbours in Season One (Episode Four) at least seven times. The whole bat-biting incident gets done to death. Many old Ozzy stories are trudged out to tell the world what a madman he is (was). Nickson tries to cloak the whole book as a pro-Ozzy piece saying he a great Dad, they are a loving family and so on, despite the crazy stories and fact he is a raging alcoholic and drug-addict. Nickson work is so biased as to be virtually useless. The book is aimed, I believe at a PG audience as all the swearing is censored, for example…f***ing and so on. Nickson attempts to paint Sharon and Ozzy as a caring, responsible parents and the reality show as a clever look inside the life of eccentric multi-millionaires, and there is some limited merit to his claims. The show was enormously popular and successful, as has been all of Ozzy’s musical career. Nickson however falls prey to the cult of personality of Ozzy (and Sharon) and churned out what can best be described as a blatantly pro-Ozzy 101 for non-Ozzy fans.

The book is scattered with vapid quotes titled: ‘How To Be An Ozzy Parent’. Such gems are ‘Surprise parties are fun’ (p. 132), ‘You can enjoy good, clean fun.” (p. 107) and ‘Make sure your kids do their chores’. (p. 159) Wow. That’s pretty cutting-edge parenting advice. The whole book is littered with simple platitudes that have nothing to do with Ozzy. Another feature that appears often in the book are Ozzy quizzes with simple trivia a lot of it pulled from The Osbournes TV show. These are OK, lots of fun trivia for people who know nothing about Ozzy. I did find some value in learning about Ozzy’s later years because as a fan of his music first and foremost I deliberately ignored the whole MTV media circus, talk-show appearances and so forth; the things that have been his bread and butter for 10 years…ie ‘The Sharon years’ I did learn quite a few new things more about Jack and Kelly (his kids) and a bit more about Sharon, but most of it is trivial nonsense such as Kelly is friends with an actress named Mandy Moore or that Jack worked for a record company.

OZZY KNOWS BEST is (was) a pretty blatant attempt to capitalize on the surprising popularity of The Osbournes’. In that sense, there is not much merit to this fluff piece that doesn\’t stand the test of time. For Ozzy collectors only.

Track Listing:

Technical Details:
Format Reviewed:
Publisher: St. Martin\’s Griffin
Pages: 249