Music Mogul Don Arden Dead at Age 81

Posted July 25, 2007

Sharon Osbourne's father Don Arden was renowned for his fierce temper Sharon Osbourne's music mogul father Don Arden has died at the age of 81. Dubbed the Al Capone of Pop for his uncompromising business practices, he steered acts like Gene Vincent, ELO, The Small Faces and Black Sabbath to stardom.

Osbourne became estranged from her father after fighting him for control of husband Ozzy Osbourne's career. The pair were reconciled in 2002 after Arden developed Alzheimer's disease. Osbourne's spokesman said her father had died in a Los Angeles nursing home.

Born Harry Levy in Manchester in 1926, the future music manager set his sights on a showbusiness career at an early age. In the years following World War II, he established himself as a singer in the West End and on radio.

After marrying Hope Shaw in 1950, he pursued a more stable income by arranging tours for US acts like Gene Vincent and Little Richard.

This eventually led him into artist management, and he developed a reputation for having a fierce temper. He became notorious for a 1966 incident where he reportedly hung rival manager Robert Stigwood from a fourth-floor balcony for trying to lure away one of his acts, The Small Faces. "To try to steal my discovery - that was unforgivable," said Arden in his 2002 autobiography, Mr Big.

"Yes, I threatened to throw Robert Stigwood off the balcony of his office. But no, I didn't personally hang him by his boots. "I wouldn't have dirtied my hands on them."

Sharon Osbourne was estranged from her father for 20 years As news of the incident spread, Arden says he relished his new-found "reputation as a hard man".

"Fear became my weapon," he wrote. "I recognised that and played on it". Arden's success in the music industry continued throughout the 1960s and 1970s, and he even set up his own record label - Jet - releasing albums by Electric Light Orchestra, Roy Wood and Ozzy Osbourne.

But he fell out with several of his acts, including The Small Faces and singer-songwriter Lynsey De Paul, both of whom claimed they did not receive money owing to them.

But his hopes of building a showbusiness dynasty were dashed in 1979 when Sharon wrested away control of Ozzy Osbourne's solo career. Their estrangement worsened when Arden began an affair with a younger woman in 1981.

Following their reconciliation in 2002, Arden could often be seen in the hit MTV reality show The Osbournes. Osbourne recently revealed in a TV interview that the psychological scars from her father's behaviour remained with her.

She said: "I was surrounded by violent people, violent talk, violent behaviour, so there was nothing unusual seeing my dad threatening someone, or brandishing a firearm. My father really had a temper. He had a voice which would echo through the entire house. A couple of times he would whack me and he used to yank my hair. I wouldn't say I was abused and beaten. In those days it was a normal thing."

Arden died on July 20, 2007 in Los Angeles. He is survived by his daughter, Sharon, and son, David. His wife, Hope, died in 1998.

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