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Tuesday, 9 July, 2002, 15:01 GMT 16:01 UK
Ozzy goes by the book
Ozzy Osbourne
Osbourne is renowned for his outlandish behaviour

First rule of writing a biography - pick an interesting subject.

Sue Crawford, a former deputy editor of The Sunday People, certainly passed Go on that score. She chose Ozzy Osbourne.

The original head-banger, crowd-surfer and all-round wild man of rock is a subject that should not elicit too many yawns from the world's biography-readers.

"Ozzy's led such a colourful life that it wasn't difficult to fill the book," says Ms Crawford, author of Ozzy Unauthorized. "I actually had to struggle to fit it all in."

Biography cover
"He predicted he wouldn't live beyond 40"
"Colourful life" is perhaps a little restrained.

This is the man who made an enemy of parents, church-leaders and animal-lovers the world over.

He infamously bit the head off a live bat, shot dead 17 of his pet cats and relieved himself on The Alamo.

"It's amazing he's lasted 30 years in the business," says Ms Crawford. "He predicted he wouldn't live beyond 40 and Radio One prepared his obituary in 1978."

Ms Crawford, for one, is glad he did survive.

Her biography is a timely addition to the bookshelves, coming hot on the heels of the success of MTV's The Osbournes which - for the very few uninitiated - is a fly-on-the-wall docu-soap featuring Osbourne, wife Sharon and their two youngest kids.

Then there is that appearance at The White House and the invitation to Party at the Palace.

Plus the ever-burgeoning popularity of Ozzfest - the annual music festival at which Osbourne has played alongside the likes of Slipknot, Papa Roach, Marilyn Manson and Linkin Park.

Ozzy Osbourne with his wife Sharon
Crawford is a huge fan of the singer
In fact, Osbourne is currently enjoying all-round hero status. And publishers and biographers are keen to cash in.

But, to be fair, this book is not just about capitalising on a good thing - on Ms Crawford's part, at least. It is plain she is a huge fan both of Ozzy Osbourne and his music.

"I've got an eclectic music collection that ranges from Black Sabbath to The Beatles, via punk," she says.

"I have huge respect for Ozzy as a man and as a performer. There is no-one else in music right now who compares to him. He is definitely a one-off."

Despite her interest in the music, Ms Crawford chooses to focus more on Osbourne's out-of-office antics, which may come as a disappointment to some of the more hard-core heavy-metal devotees.


Ms Crawford is no stranger to the world of celebrity antics, having spent more than a decade writing showbusiness features for The Sunday People, The Express and Hello! Magazine, among others.

She says the research she undertook for the book left her feeling she knows Osbourne personally, though the two have never actually met.

"I spent many hours with people who knew Ozzy, people that have toured with him or interviewed him," she says.

"Person after person told me he has this enormous, down-to-earth and honest old-fashioned charm. Everyone had a tale to tell but no-one had a bad word to say about him."

In 1970-something Ozzy Osbourne was encouraging fans to throw cows' insides at him while head-banging in a white all-in-one suit on stage.

Now the Prince of Darkness is moaning on national TV that he can't work the video.

But he is still as popular as ever, and Sue Crawford is not complaining.

Ozzy Unauthorized by Sue Crawford was published on 26 June by Michael O'Mara Books.

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