Archive for February, 2012

SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH

February 21, 2012

The Black Sabbath reunion tour is off and you can bet your sweet dollar that somewhere somehow the heavy hand of Sharon Osbourne has come into play.

After the initial plan for an album and tour by the original line-up was announced back in November they seemed to take January’s Tommy Iommi cancer diagnosis in their stride. They would work around him. They haven’t managed to work around drummer Bill Ward’s insistence on a “signable contact”. At first the remaining band said they’d carry on regardless while Sharon laughed off rumours that she’d been behind Bill Ward’s dissatisfaction. A replacement drummer was announced – Tommy Clufetos a session musician who currently plays in Ozzy Osbourne’s solo band.  Bill followed up with a tactful statement assured fans that he had not quit. The door was  still open. The following day it was slammed shut. We were told dates booked for the reunion would be played by “Ozzy and Friends” – including Geezer Butler. No mention of Tommy Iommi or Bill Ward.  Speculation was that Sabbath stood to earn more than a 100 million from the reunion.

Why don’t I believe Sharon’s not involved somehow? It just wouldn’t be her style. She wouldn’t be able to stand back and not get involved or be involved in that series of events somehow.

Sharon was there when Ozzy and Black Sabbath fell out the first time, back in 1979. The band sacked their singer. He said he was going solo because he was bored. Sharon was 18 at the time. She started dating the married  Ozzy. Sharon’s father Don Arden was Black Sabbath’s manager. Sharon became the solo Ozzy’s manager and her father was not happy. There are many people in the music business who had learned not to get on the wrong side of Don Arden. He was not adverse to hiring thugs to make his point. Sharon alone seems to have managed to survive his wrath. Only just. She went to visit her father and he set his dogs on her. She lost the child she was carrying.

Sharon was a good student. She saw what he father did “right” and what he did “wrong”. She’s adopted some of his forceful management style, but has been determined not to lose her business as her father did. In the mid-1980s, Don Arden faced trial for false imprisonment and blackmail of business associates. His son David was found guilty of the same charge and jailed. Don Arden was acquitted but his management/promoter days where over.

Sharon Arden Osbourne is also someone who shouldn’t  be crossed.   For 20 years she’d never allowed her father to visit her three children with Ozzy, but then for his final days.when he was dyeing  with Alzheimer’s disease she paid for his care. As far as business was concerned ; one promoter was apparently kneed in the groin after defaulting on payments due, and she once personally destroyed the computer system at an office of a company selling illegal merchandise. She was sorry afterwards and went back. She had to. She’d dropped her car keys. Sharon Osbourne has also been known to send parcels of her own shit to people she didn’t like.

That’s the woman who supposedly has been innocently standing by as the Black Sabbath reunion and 100 million dollars has disappeared into thin air.

Sharon Osbourne has been an outstanding manager for Ozzy. You’ve heard the records. You’ve seen him on stage. You’ve watched the Osbournes. He’s lovable but he’s not THAT good. Sharon’s enabled him to keep living the rock and roll life, on stage and off, and come out at the other end a millionaire! Good luck to him, but thank you very much Sharon.

The legendary Ozzfests are an example of the Sharon Osbourne method. In 1996 she had approached the Lollapalooza festival about a spot for Ozzy on what had become a very prestigious event. They laughed at her so she organized her own event. The first Ozzfest was just two American dates. Lollapalooza soon disappeared off the calendar but Ozzfest after a few years was grossing $20m every summer in the US, and  launched the careers of Marilyn Manson, Limp Bizkit and Slipknot.

Black Sabbath IS important. They were the first to take heavy rock down that theatrical neo-satanlc road. Despite Ozzy being otherwise occupied the band subsequently managed to hang on with no less than eight other singers, including a couple of Deep Purple escapees. They weren’t just a cover band during the years Ozzy wasn’t there, but Ozzy and Sabbath are synonymous. That;’s why we were excited about the prospect of the original band back together, why the band stood to make 100 million plus. But that’s gone. Or is it?

 

WHITNEY AND LANA – BORN TO DIE?

February 14, 2012

Whitney Houston and Lana De Rey? It seems a long stretch but hear me out.

Whitney Houston died and again we need to ask the very same question asked when Michael Jackson died, and Elvis died and others died. Where were the minders? How did it get to this? We know that Whitney was a trainwreck ready to crash. There were probably hundreds of junkies who died on the same day. Alone. Famous people aren’t alone. I’m not naive. I know that their fame and money allows them to surround themselves with people who WILL turn a blind eye and WILL assist destructive tendencies, but they’ve still got more chance of being rescued than those other lonely casualties.

Whitney Houston was handed life on a platter. That’s the real tragedy. She was beautiful and she had the gift of a great voice. She already had a potential career as a high profile model on offer when she opted to  follow her mother and cousin into music. Then she was handed “the world”, not an ordinary beginning to a career. Clive Davis searched out songs and producers and months were spent on assembling that debut album. It was an important record in many ways. It introduced us to Whitney Houston. It broke the mould of one producer overseeing an entire album. The industry was never the same. And Whitney and her album changed pop music.  It was so fitting that Jennifer Hudson paid tribute to Whitney at the Grammys. Since American Idol started we’ve seen female singer after female singer emulating Whitney Houston’s “over-singing” vocal style.

Whitney was handed life on a platter. How could it go so wrong? . Is it true that she used to have someone blow cocaine up her backside?

So where does Lana Del Rey fit into all this?  I’m wondering what the hell HER minders are up to. Are they deliberately letting  her commit career-o-cide or are they just incompetent? How could she be put out there so “un-prepared”.  Maybe she really is a starry-eyed wanna-be who’s stumbled into the spotlights, but she actually didn’t get there on her own. She has management, she’s signed to a major record company. There ARE people around her who SHOULD know better.

Has there been another artist who’s been made such a public target for derision? A lot of it wasn’t necessary. Or was it? Is this the way the music industry operates now? Sacrifice rather than support?  The first artists caught lip-syncing on stage were lambasted and ridiculed, but now that’s the way it’s done. Is that what we’re seeing with Lana, the first step in the next era of public illusion? After Lana, after she’s been made to break the ice, is this the way we’ll see artists in the future launched?

The pity is that the ’Born To Die’ album is quite interesting. Lana seems to have idea of the kind of mystique she wants to create. We should have been allowed to focus on that, to share her vision and allow her to evolve it. Already she’s talking about not making another album.  

How did it come to this? How could it go so wrong? Or is this the way it was meant to be, as inevitable at Whitley’s demise. Born to die.