I began work on Don Arden’s autobiography in 2001/2002. It was going to be produced by Andrew Loog Oldham . I’d interviewed Don twice already for Stoned/2Stoned circa 1996 when he was a terrifying prospect. Malcolm McLaren was around back then talking about making a film of his life. He paid me cash to run an errand and later I sat frozen with fear as, over the phone, he threatened to kill a journalist. It was a very convincing performance.
Five years later, then, alongside undertaking extensive research, I spent seven days interviewing Don at his London apartment for his autobio, normally for over 12 hours a day. It was both exhaustive and exhausting (for both of us).
At the time Don had begun the process of rapprochement with his estranged daughter Sharon Osborne. They had not spoken for many decades. What I didn’t know was that Don was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
Finally I produced a 100,000 word manuscript that told Don’s story from birth to present in his own words. One publisher who read the work told me he did not think Don had one single redeeming feature. I thought that was great.
Toward the end of 2002, I wrote a long article about Don for Jack magazine. I also contributed to radio documentary on him.
A few months later the manuscript was used as the hook for this fantastic Robert Chalmers profile of Don.
Sharon began to take a more active role in Don’s life and the work. In fact she simply took the manuscript and handed it to rock journalist Mick Wall, who had worked with her on several Ozzy Osborne/The Osbornes/Black Sabbath books. Finally, in the summer of 2004, the book was published. I received no credit, or mention.
I read the book and whatever work Wall did to my manuscript seemed minimal, certainly was much less than transformative. I have never seen him speak about the working process or the book. But you don’t fuck with the Don, nor Sharon.
Don died in 2007.