I began work on Don Arden’s autobiography in 2001/2002 under the tutelage of Andrew Loog Oldham who was producing the book. 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. Don paid me cash to run an errand and later let me listen in as, over the phone, he threatened to kill a journalist: ‘rip his heart out’. It was a very convincing performance.
For the autobiography, I spent seven, long, 12-hour days interviewing Don at his London apartment. It was 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 also in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
From the interviews and extensive research, 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 which I took as a wonderful compliment.
Toward the end of 2002, I wrote a long article about Don for Jack magazine. I also contributed to lengthy radio documentary on him.
A few months later the manuscript was used as the hook for this fantastic Robert Chalmers profile of Don.
Ultimately it was not be for me. Sharon came to take a more active role in Don’s life and the work. She took my manuscript and handed it to rock journalist Mick Wall, who had worked with her on several Ozzy Osborne/The Osbornes/Black Sabbath books. When, in the summer of 2004, the book was published, I received no credit or mention.
Don died in 2007.