How Ozzy Osbourne helped a pizza delivery driver after car theft near infamous St. John's home

Josh Cook was nearly off the rails on a crazy train, stuck in a financial dump after his car was stolen. But then, a surprise gift from his idol lifted his spirits.

Josh Cook has more rock and roll swag than he could ever imagine

Josh Cook got a morale boost from his rock heroes after his car was stolen in St. John's last year. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

Josh Cook hauls black T-shirts and sweaters from his dresser, handful after handful, with an incredulous grin on his face.

As he piles them on his bed, the logos become visible, each shirt emblazoned with skulls and bold white letters.

Cook then starts going through CDs and vinyl records, before reaching his most prized possession — a personalized and autographed portrait of Ozzy Osbourne.

"It's amazing," Cook says as he holds it up. "Despite everything I went through, this is probably the positive that came out of it."

Josh Cook was stoked to find an autographed photo from one of his musical heroes in a box full of things mailed to him. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

Cook lives in a small house in St. John's, caring for his mother and working whatever job he can find to help support the two of them.

He was using his own vehicle to deliver pizzas for a local company last winter, when he got a call to 74 Springdale St. in the downtown region.

In the last three years, the police have received at least 112 calls about the residence — including a home invasion, a vicious assault, a shooting and a stabbing.

After Cook went inside the multi-apartment complex with the pizza, he heard an engine rev. He sprinted out the door just in time to see his car speed off with his phone and a large stash of music inside.

Later that weekend, Cook found the car sitting outside the same house with a full tank of gas and irreparable damage.

Also written off was his CD collection — a compilation of hard rock and metal albums he thought would be impossible to replace. The music that got him through so many nights of driving was gone.

This place, it stole my livelihood.- Josh Cook

His insurance company paid up for the car, but far below the book value.

"I got very little for it," he said. "Not long after, they told me that because of the situation, even though it wasn't my fault, that I was high risk, so they cancelled my policy."

Cook used the money to fix up a different car, and moved to a new insurance company.

The best deal he could find was for double what he was paying before. His new insurance company also made him sign a waiver saying he wouldn't deliver pizza anymore.

Two plainclothes officers enter 74 Springdale St. on Feb. 24, after a stabbing inside the home. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

He was out of a job.

Eleven days later, a 21-year-old man was shot inside the home and four residents were arrested. Three have been convicted of aggravated assault.

On a cold day earlier this month, Cook met with a CBC reporter outside the home at 74 Springdale St. to talk about the experience.

"This place," he says, looking up at the boarded windows and peeling paint. "It took my livelihood, it cost me a great deal financially … It pretty much wrecked me."

Josh Cook parks outside the home where his car was stolen and reflects on the incident. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

The only thing left in the car was a CD by Zakk Wylde, an accomplished guitarist known for his work with Ozzy Osbourne and Black Label Society.

After speaking to a few media outlets, Cook got an unexpected message.

"After everything, somehow Zakk Wylde's son got word of what happened," he says.

Cook passed his mailing address along to Wylde's publicist and found a massive box of Black Label Society swag on his doorstep days later.

Josh Cook got two boxes of merchandise sent to his door, containing piles of Black Label Society clothing and the full discography of Ozzy Osbourne. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

A few days after that, a second package arrived with a few bundled-up Ozzy Osbourne T-shirts at the top.

As Cook roots past the shirts, he found the complete discography of Osbourne's work — everything from his solo CDs to vintage Black Sabbath albums — and the autographed picture.

"These guys, they don't know who I am," he says. "But they set me up with all this stuff. It's amazing."

Cook is back to delivering pizzas again, working long days and even longer nights to support himself and to help his mother.

It's not the best job, he said, but it's a hell of a lot easier with his favourite CDs playing through his speakers again.

About the Author

Ryan Cooke

Ryan Cooke works for CBC out of its bureau in St. John's.