British rock writer Mick Wall has penned a shelf full of rock bios including a handful on his current focus Black Sabbath and their erstwhile front man Ozzy Osbourne. Like many books in the genre Black Sabbath – Symptoms of the Universe focuses on the band’s colorful history; all of the ups and more often than not the downs.
Much of the trials and tribulations have centered on Ozzy’s departure from the band, fired by his mates and the seemingly endless revolving door of singers, bassists, drummers and keyboardists that have come and gone. At times it seems like Wall spends pages and pages trying to recount the endless lineup changes; it’s truly a case of you can’t tell the players without a score card.
One of the most striking things about Black Sabbath – Symptoms of the Universe is the staggering egos of not only the individual members of the band, but so many of the folks in the band’s universe like Ozzy’s wife/manager and master manipulator Sharon (Arden) Osbourne. Wall’s own seemingly Titanic ego also plays a featured role throughout the book. While admittedly not a huge Sabbath fan, I think I would have difficulty picking drummer Bill Ward out of a lineup, yet he regularly positions himself as an integral commodity due an exorbitant payday in any of the many failed reunion attempts.
Wall weaves a tale of depravity and desperation. These guys were so wrapped up in being famous that they are indifferent to their own well being and so desperate to cling tightly to fame that they truly sold their souls for rock ‘n’ roll.