WE SOLD OUR SOULS FOR ROCK 'N ROLLNR
Formed in Britain in 1968, Black Sabbath were the heavy-metal kings of the 1970s, led by Ozzy Osbourne, a convicted burglar and former slaughterhouse worker from Birmingham, England. Amazingly, given the casualties of rock 'n' roll, the four original members of Black Sabbath--vocalist Osbourne, bass player Geezer Butler, guitarist Tony Iommi and drummer Bill Ward--are still alive and kicking. What's more, they are the subjects of We Sold Our Souls For Rock 'N Roll, a rock concert/road movie directed by Penelope Spheeris.
Spheeris first landed on the documentary map via her shrewd 1979 movie The Decline of Western Civilization, which explored the Los Angeles punk-rock scene--an aptly titled film, given the fact that, since then, much of the cast has regrettably shuffled off this mortal coil. Spheeris followed her debut with two more Declines. In 1992, she hit pay dirt, directing the hit comedy Wayne's World at Paramount.
Shot in the summer of 1999, We Sold Our Souls for Rock 'N Roll is a road movie, two years in the making, that is one part documentary, one part freak show and one part whatever's left. What makes it engaging is the rapport that exists between Osbourne and his fans and vice versa. "I can't take the rock star shit seriously," Ozzy admits. "I'm lucky to be alive. I'm like the rock 'n' roll imp. I'm not demonic. I'm not serious about what I do. I just like to goof around and bring out the little demon that lives within all of us. I like to think there is a little bit of Ozzy in all of us."
Thank goodness there isn't, some might argue, given the myriad ways that rabid Ozzy fans can sometimes behave. For her part, director Spheeris seems to adopt a benign "We are not amused" stance toward the stoned, often half-naked hoi polloi who turn up from time to time.