Though it’s executive produced by his son, Jack Osbourne, the new documentary The Nine Lives of Ozzy Osbourne makes little effort to cover up the darkest chapters in the Prince of Darkness’s crazy-train history. Younger fans may be surprised to learn, for example, that in a druggy haze in the 1980s, Ozzy attempted to murder his wife and Jack’s mother, Sharon Osbourne, by strangling her in their bedroom.
That kind of domestic abuse would likely end someone’s career today — but at the time, Sharon dealt with it by dropping the charges and sending Ozzy away for a long period in rehab. The attempted murder came after two other lesser scandals involving animal cruelty: He bit the head off of a dove in a board meeting, and a bat during a concert. (He later clarified that he thought the bat was fake. He knew the dove was real.)
“Timing is everything,” Jack Osbourne told SPIN in a recent phone call from a vacation trip with his family, as his dad lounged in the pool outside. “If those things had happened in 2020, you know, the world is not really as accepting of that kind of behavior now. I don’t think the world was any more accepting back then, but there was no social media. But, you know, when he put it like that, you know, mutilating animals and an attempted murder charge…”
Then he remembers what might be Ozzy’s saving grace in the eyes of Twitter: He did once urinate on the Alamo.
“Maybe with everything going on today, people might be okay with that. It might have balanced out in some way, you know, because he was equally as offensive to everyone. He didn’t take sides.”
Ozzy’s family is thinking a lot about the 71-year-old’s legacy today, from Black Sabbath to his current battle with Parkinson’s. Nine Lives is a way to give him his jet-black flowers while he still has lots of time to enjoy them.
Jack, who charmed his way into America’s hearts as a child on the groundbreaking reality show The Osbournes, has made peace with his father’s complicated legacy.
“He’s not very cut-and-dry. There’s so many different phases to who he is. And I wanted to show that as much as possible,” Osbourne said. He enlisted Greg Johnson, a veteran of The Osbournes, to direct Nine Lives.
“It very much became, how do we take the gloves off? My mom and dad were like, just get as honest as possible and we’ll kind of stay out of your way. And, you know, all the credit really should go to Greg because he just knows the family so well, and he knows how to walk the line to where it doesn’t make it, you know, offensively honest.”
How was Ozzy as a dad?
“He was always on the road, and when he was home, he was in the studio. There’s a few chunks where he wasn’t working and he had some time off and we would go ride dirt bikes, because we have a lot of property in England, and he taught me to hunt. I wanted that kind of typical father-son let’s-go-do-stuff kind of thing.”
He also opened doors. Sharon Osbourne notes in the doc that OzzFest came to be scheduled around the kids’ school.
“The good always outweighed the bad because the good side was, well, you know, my dad has a really cool job that takes me all over the world,” Jack said.
Oh wait — what was that about hunting?
“We used to hunt rabbits with .22s,” Jack explains.
Uh-oh. Nobody tweet this, okay?
Biography: The Nine Lives of Ozzy Osbourne, airs Monday at 9 p.m. on A&E.