Monday, March 23, 2015

2002, Bang Your Head by David Konow, Ozzy Osbourne section

In this section of "Bang Your Head" David Konow's talks about Ozzy Osbourne
post Black Sabbath as Ozzy starts out his solo career. There is quite
a bit on Randy Rhoads as both artists helped out each others career.

(photo above does not appear in "Bang Your Head" book)

 Ozzy Osbourne
Pg 114 - 125

When Ozzy Osbourne was fired from Black Sabbath, he signed away all
rights he had to the band and picked up his last check. He then holed
up at the La Park Hotel in Los Angeles for three months. He kept the
curtains in his room shut, and drank and snorted blow all alone in the
dark. Osbourne thought his life was over. How could he carry on with-
out Black Sabbath?
Sharon Arden, who worked for her father Don when he managed
Black Sabbath, eventually came by to pick up some money from Os-
bourne. He had spent it all on cocaine before she got there. She yelled at
him for blowing the money but was determined to pull him back from
out of the muck. She got right to the point: “Get yourself together—I
want to manage you.” Not only would Sharon Arden launch Osbourne’s
solo career, but he would always credit her for saving something much
more important: his life. No more singing off to the side of the stage for
Osbourne. It was time for him to take center stage in his career and life.
He and Arden decided to put a new band together and began looking
for guitar players

By the end of the 1970s, the L.A. band Quiet Riot not only hoped they’d
get a deal after their rivals Van Halen got signed, “we counted on it,”
says lead singer Kevin DuBrow. Yet the major-label deal never came. The
band auditioned for thirty-two labels, and all thirty-two of them passed.
It was clear the band was going in circles. It was also clear that Quiet
Riot’s guitarist, Randy Rhoads, was too talented to remain a local legend.
Rhoads was considered one of the hottest guitar players in L.A., right
alongside Eddie Van Halen. One local fan, Michael Vangerov, was so
excited by Randy’s playing that when he went to go see Quiet Riot at
the Starwood, he’d keep an acoustic guitar in his car. After Quiet Riot
ended their set, Vangerov would run out to his car, grab his acoustic,
and try to play the riffs he’d just seen on stage.
Quiet Riot and Van Halen ruled the Starwood, but Quiet Riot couldn’t
get a record deal because, unlike Van Halen, their music wasn’t distinc-
tive enough. The record executives told them to write a song just like a
current hit on the charts and they would consider signing the band. A
month later, Quiet Riot would have the song written, but the label would
pass because the hit they tried to emulate was now off the charts. Then
the label would tell them, “Now if you could come up with a song like this. . .”

When Rhoads got the call that Ozzy Osbourne was looking for gui-
tar players, he asked, “Who’s Ozzy Osbourne?” He had never heard of
him, nor was he a Black Sabbath fan, and turned down the offer to au-
dition for Osboume’s solo band. Even though Quiet Riot was going no-
where, Rhoads was loyal to DuBrow and didn’t want to leave him in the
lurch. It was his mother, Delores Rhoads, who finally convinced him to
go see Osbourne. She told Randy that even if he didn’t get the gig, he
needed to be out there meeting people and making connections. With
much reluctance, Rhoads went to the audition.
When Rhoads arrived, Osbourne was stoned out of his mind. Rhoads
barely had a chance to set up and play before Osbourne told him he had
the gig. He came home bewildered, telling his mother, “I don’t know
what I’ve got, but I’ve got something.” The next day, Osbourne told a
friend he had dreamed that he hired a guitar player. His friend told him
he really had hired a guitar player. “Oh, God, what have I done?” said
Osbourne. “I hope he can play.” Once he sobered up enough to really
hear Rhoads play, he was floored.

DuBrow was crushed when he found out that Rhoads had landed the
Ozzy Osbourne gig. Quiet Riot played their last show with Randy in
October 1979. “I put all my eggs into the Randy Rhoads basket,” says 
DuBrow. “I wasn’t much of a singer, and he was the greatest guitar
player I ever heard. So I had to find some talent pretty quick. I concen-
trated on my singing and centered my next band around my singing.”
Where Osbourne had fronted one of the biggest bands of the ‘70s, 
now he was starting over from scratch. But his new band reminded him
of the old days of Black Sabbath, when they were still hungry and had
something to prove. Osbourne’s first two solo albums, Blizzard of  Ozz,
and Diary of a Madman, sounded nothing alike, but they were recorded
at the same time in England and released a year apart, in 1980 and
1981. Rhoads’s guitar playing was miles ahead of anything he’d ever
done with Quiet Riot. He would often double- and sometimes even
triple-track his solos without leaving a note out of place. Bob Daisley
and Lee Kerslake played bass and drums on the album, but after both al-
bums were recorded, Quiet Riot’s Rudy Sarzo joined Rhoads in Os-
bourne’s band, and Tommy Aldridge of Black Oak Arkansas took over
on drums

Yet even with two albums of material in the can, Osbourne had trou-
ble getting a record deal. He was turned down by his old label, Warner
Bros. He eventually got a one-album deal with Jet Records, a division of
CBS, and the label put out Blizzard first before committing to put out
Diary of a Madman.

In Black Sabbath, Osbourne could never adequately explain in musi-
cal terms what he wanted to do, and Tony lommi didn’t have the pa-
tience to listen to him. He loved working with Rhoads because the
guitarist took the time to listen and try to bring Osboume’s ideas to life.
He viewed Rhoads not just as a collaborator but as an equal, and they
grew closer and closer as friends
Ozzy’s new band went on the road, mainly headlining theaters
and small hockey arenas, with Motorhead and Def Leppard opening.
Sharon Arden paid for much of the tour out of her own pocket and
had to mortgage her home to cover the tours startup costs. Before the
band broke through, there were times they would arrive at the venue
and find out they were undersold on tickets and the promoters were
threatening to cancel. The band often had to play for free. They saw a lot
of hard times, but one of Arden’s biggest jobs was to keep everyone up-
beat and positive. “I can honestly tell you that if it wasn’t for her, the
band never would have happened,” says Rudy Sarzo. Female managers
were an anomaly in the early ‘80s, but Arden proved that she could play
just as tough as the boys. Even though working with Osbourne was her
first time managing a band, Arden made it clear she wouldn’t be pushed
around, and those who crossed her did so at their peril. Once when
Arden suspected a promoter was cheating her out of money, she kicked
him in the crotch.
Soon the momentum of Osbourne’s record and ticket sales began to
snowball. The band sold out a show at the Academy of Music in New
York, and demand for tickets was so great that they added a second
show the same night. The band played the Day on the Green Festival in 
Oakland, California, on July 4, 1981. As the second band on the bill
they weren’t scheduled to do an encore, but by the time they walked
all the way back to their trailer, promoter Bill Graham was running after
them telling them to get back onstage because the audience was going
crazy. Sarzo was halfway undressed and had to throw his clothes back 
on so he could get back and play one more song.

Osbourne started attracting press attention for his outrageous behav-
ior when he bit the head off a live dove during a marketing meeting for
Blizzard of Ozz in 1981. Osbourne was then banned from entering the
CBS building. Although the incident got a ton of press, the CBS brass 
were so disgusted that they threatened not to promote the album if he 
pulled another stunt like that. Obviously, he paid little heed to their warning.
It was in 1982, when the Diary of a Madman tour hit Des Moines,
Iowa, that the most notorious incident of Osboume’s career took place.
Now that he was in charge of his own band, the rule was not to get in 
his stage space. Bassist Rudy Sarzo had to stay within two or three  
square feet of the stage. He couldn’t go in front of Osbourne, put his 
foot on the drum riser, or go to the other side of the stage. With his legs 
practically nailed to the floor, he developed a wild style of headbanging 
in which his entire upper body would twist and contort. “Half the night
I’m looking up; half the night I’m looking down” he says “I saw a lot
of lights, and I saw a lot of the floor.”
During the Iowa gig, when Sarzo’s headbang was on the downbeat, 
he saw something rubbery crumpled up on the stage. He motioned to
Osbourne to check it out. Someone had tossed a bat on stage. The singer 
didn’t realize it wasn’t a toy you’d buy on Halloween, and he picked it
up and bit its head off. Once he realized the bat was indeed real, he spat
the head out of his mouth, and it landed somewhere behind the barri-
cade. Osbourne was rushed to the hospital, and the road crew scrambled
to find the bat so it could be examined for rabies. He felt tremendous 
dread when his joints began to stiffen up, a sign he probably had the
disease. He was then given a painful series of shots Sharon Arden came
to visit him in the hospital. “I love you,” she told him. “But you really
are a crazy bastard.”

Like Alice Cooper and the chicken, Osbourne’s bat incident would
live on in rock and roll infamy forever. Soon there were outrageous ru-
mors that he tortured animals onstage. Kids would come up to Sarzo
backstage and ask him, “Hey, man, is Ozzy really gonna blow up a goat
onstage tonight?”
Most people who’ve been around Ozzy for even a brief period usu-
ally come away with a tale of madness. When asked to describe a crazy
incident, the musicians who played with him over the years invariably
reply, “Name a city.” When the band was getting ready to play the Texas
Jam, Sarzo was waiting in the airport for Ozzy and Sharon to arrive
from England. Sarzo was having a drink in the lounge when he was
paged to go to the phone. He was told Osbourne had just shaved his
head completely bald, and he had to find a wig and cut it to look like
the singer’s hair. Sarzo had never cut a wig before and didn’t know you
had to wet it before you cut it. When Osbourne first put it on, it resem-
bled a helmet. Arden cut it further until it looked like a spiky, punk rock
haircut. She wrapped a bandanna around his forehead to hold the wig
in place, and Osbourne stepped out on stage.
Right before the band went into its second song, “Crazy Train,” Os-
bourne asked the audience. “You wanna see how fuckin’ crazy I am?” He
then tore the wig off his head and threw it into the audience. Everyone
was in shock. Now in addition to being Osbourne’s bassist, Sarzo was
assigned to buy a new wig before every show. Osbourne loved fooling
the audience and would even put fake blood on top of his head to make
it look like he had torn his hair out of his scalp.
While on tour in Hamburg, Germany, the band visited a sex club with
tables shaped like penises, and live sex shows. The next night, at a
dinner with Sony executives, Osbourne climbed on top of the table,
stripped naked, and re-enacted the sex show. He capped his perfor-
mance by urinating in a carafe of wine. Several minutes later, a waiter
entered, took the carafe into the next room, and served it to another table.

When the band toured Europe, they usually stayed in upper-crust ho-
tels where the other guests left their shoes outside of their doors Os-
bourne would often steal shoes, take a dump in them, then put them
back. Backstage before one European gig, he had to pee and relieved
himself out an open window, not realizing that several stories below, his
fans were lined up and waiting to get into the show.
With all this craziness and two successful albums under his belt, Os-
bourne soon established a strong solo career; he became much bigger,
and more notorious, than Black Sabbath. Randy Rhoads, though, didn’t
let his success go to his head. He always remained humble and down-
to-earth. With his first royalty payments, Rhoads went out and bought
an expensive classical guitar. He spent much of his time on the road tak-
ing lessons from teachers he found in the phone book. He was usually
better than the teachers and ended up teaching them instead.
Rhoads also remained close to his mother. Where many parents dis-
couraged their children from pursuing careers in music, Delores Rhoads
supported her son’s guitar playing from day one. Before the Diary of a 
Madman tour took off in December 1981, he took her on a vacation to
Mazatlan. “Randy loved his mother more than anyone in the world,”
says Ace Steele, who was a friend of Rhoads. “She was the one person
he knew he could trust.”
Rhoads played a polka-dot Flying V, a guitar built for him by Karl
Sandoval, who also did custom work for Eddie Van Halen, and a white
Les Paul. But wanting a new custom-built guitar, Rhoads went to guitar
builder Grover Jackson. Jackson Guitars became one of the most popu-
lar guitar companies in the ‘80s, but before the company was successful,
its struggle to succeed mirrored the travails of the bands who played its
Grover Jackson let a number of promising young players who had no
money (including Warren DeMartini of Ratt) go through the factory
garbage bins and assemble their own guitars with reject bodies and
necks, even though Jackson’s family was living hand to mouth. There
were weeks they were in danger of going hungry if he didn’t sell an in-
strument out the back door for cash.

“Grover was always very good to the local guitar kids,” says Poison
guitarist C. C. DeVille. “What he would do was for one-tenth the money
you’d buy a guitar for, he would give us parts without the names on
them. He’d give us necks without the logo on them, a $150 neck for
$40. That’s why we all had [Jacksons] in those days! They became the
racing-car guitar.”
Randy Rhoads walked into Jackson’s shop after he finished recording
Blizzard of Ozz, and they hit it off right away. The two worked on a gui-
tar design from noon to midnight. “We talked about music, we talked
about guitars, we talked about everything in the world,” recalls Jackson.
That guitar was literally designed that day.”
Rhoads was strangely superstitious about guitar building; he didn’t
want to know too much about how a guitar was made because he liked
the mystery of what made a guitar special. He refused to see his guitars
until they were finished, and once a guitar was completed, he would
take it out of the case every day and look at it, bonding with the instru-
ment before he would play it. The Randy Rhoads Model was tremen-
dously successful once it was available in music stores, and it launched
Jackson Guitars
Rhoads’s career was just taking off, and the guitar magazines were
showering him with accolades for his incredible playing, but he was
growing weary of the music business and wanted to get back to playing
classical music, his first love. Randy was planning on leaving the band 
soon. Rhoads wanted to go back to school and get a doctoral degree in
music; his mother was looking at schools he could apply to.
On March 19, 1982, the band’s tour bus stopped at a repair shop in
Leesburg, right outside their next gig in Orlando, Florida. The band was
scheduled to play with UFO and Foreigner the next day. The repair shop
was in an airplane hangar adjacent to a landing strip. The bus driver,
Andrew Aycock, wanted to remove several of the bunks from the bus
to make the band’s living accommodations a little more comfortable.
Aycock was a pilot. There was an airplane at the compound, and he of-
fered to take the band up in the air while the bus was being worked on.
Unbeknownst to anyone in the band, Aycock’s pilot’s license had been
revoked after he crashed a helicopter. A young boy aboard the heli-
copter had been killed.
Rhoads came onto the tour bus, trying to wake up Rudy Sarzo: “Hey,
c’mon, c’mon, get up! Let’s go on this plane ride.” Sarzo told Rhoads he
wanted to stay on the bus until they arrived at the gig. Minutes later,
Sarzo was awakened when the private plane Aycock was flying clipped
the roof of the bus. After a loud explosion, there was an eerie silence,
soon broken by the voices of Osbourne’s keyboard player Don Airey,
and Jake Duncan, the band’s tour manager.

Rudy jumped out of his bunk and opened the door to the front
lounge. The seats and the floor were covered in broken glass. He looked
through a broken window on his right and saw Duncan on his knees
crying and tearing his hair out. “They’re gone!” he screamed. “They’re
gone!” After the plane had clipped the bus, it had smashed through a
tree and into a garage that had several cars parked inside. The plane had
exploded on impact. All three aboard—Rhoads, Aycock, and Rachel
Youngblood, the band’s seamstress—were killed. Rhoads was twenty-five.
Rhoads’s death altered the lives of everyone in the band. “I suppose
when he died, part of me died with him,” said Osbourne. “He was the
first person that came into my life who gave me hope.” As often hap-
pens in death, Osbourne felt a tremendous sense of survivor’s guilt that
haunted him for years. “I feel somewhat responsible, because if he hadn’t
been with me, he wouldn’t have [died],” he said.
Grover Jackson had built two guitars for Rhoads and was working on
a third at the time of his death. Uncompleted to this day, the guitar
hangs on a wall in his home. “People ask me if I miss Randy as a guitar
player,” Jackson says “I miss him as a man.” ChetThompson was a local
guitarist who took lessons from Rhoads and later played in the band
Hellion. After Rhoads’s death, he didn’t play guitar for six months. He
couldn’t bring himself to attend the funeral and still hasn’t visited his
grave. “I haven’t really faced the fact that he died,” he said. “I prefer to
think he’s still out there somewhere playing guitar.”
Kevin DuBrow of Quiet Riot got a call at 10 in the morning, which
woke him up. He couldn’t believe that Rhoads had died and went back
to sleep. Several minutes later, he bolted out of bed and turned on the
radio. The stations he tuned to were playing Ozzy Osbourne songs. He
realized they were playing the songs in Rhoads’s memory. DuBrow later
checked his watch, and it had stopped at the exact time Rhoads died.
Ten days after the accident, the tour continued. Guitarist Bernie
Torme played the first shows but was soon replaced by Night Ranger
guitarist Brad Gillis. Osbourne said that if it weren’t for Sharon Arden
forcing him to continue the tour, he never would have stepped on a
stage again. Rhoads’s dream had been to play Madison Square Garden.
He was killed two weeks before the show.

“The saddest moment, among many, for me was doing Madison
Square Garden,” says Sarzo. “Randy was really looking forward to that
show. By the time we got there, it was like a wake. Everybody in
the audience had banners. Having to finish that tour was really tough.
We were going to funerals and rehearsing and auditioning people at the
same time. It got tougher and tougher to get on that stage.” It was espe-
cially hard for Sarzo to hear Randy’s riffs onstage, then turn around and
not see him.
Before Rhoads died, the band was contracted to put out a double
live album. Side one would be Osboume’s solo band material; side two
would be Black Sabbath songs, which Rhoads hadn’t been thrilled
about doing. Osbourne had a live album in the can that had been
recorded with Rhoads, and former Black Sabbath manager and Jet
Records owner Don Arden tried to force him to put out the album
Osbourne refused, infuriated by even having to consider releasing the
album while the wounds of Rhoads’s death were still open.

Osbourne owed the label $1.5 million, and Jet wouldn’t let him out
of his deal until he paid. He could have made a fortune releasing the last
known recording of Rhoads right after his death, but he couldn’t bear
to do it. “The record company had me by the balls,” he recalled. “[But]
there was no way I was going to let the record company make a whore
out of Randy.” Osbourne would not release the album without Delores
Rhoads’s blessing. She granted it in 1987, and Tribute became a Top Ten hit.
To fulfill his contractual obligations and free himself from Arden, Os-
bourne played two nights at the Ritz, performing all Black Sabbath
songs, which were recorded and released as the Speak of the Devil album.
He hadn’t sung many of the songs since the 1970s. On a chair illumi-
nated by a desk lamp, Osbourne kept a notebook full of Black Sabbath
lyrics that he’d leaf through when he got lost. After his contractual
obligations with the label were fulfilled, Sharon—who married Ozzy
on July 4, 1982—didn’t speak to her father for many years (they 
recently reconciled).
Randy Rhoads could never truly be replaced, but Osbourne had
several fine guitar players in his band after Randy’s passing, includ-
ing Jake E. Lee and Zakk Wylde, who joined the band in 1988. Wylde
has played with Osbourne longer than any other guitarist in his solo
career, and he also gave the singer a run for the money in the loony-
behavior department. One time at a restaurant, Wylde went to the
bathroom, rubbed a wine cork up and down the crease of his ass
and brought it back to the table. He called the waiter over, told him, “I
think there’s something wrong with our wine,” and asked him to smell
the cork. The waiter sniffed it, horrifed. “Very sorry! No charge for wine!”
Sharon Osbourne remains Osbourne’s wife and one of the toughest
and most feared managers in the business. The Osbourne marriage has
often been volatile as well: As he put it, “We have full-blown fucking
wars, with mortars and cannons going.”
Osbourne announced in 1991 that he would retire after his No More
Tears tour, but several years later he was back in action again. After re-
leasing another solo album in 1995, Ozzmosis, he hit the road with his
own successful multiband tour called Ozzfest, basically a metal Lola-
palooza, that still tours the country every summer. Sharon was also able
to reinvent her husband in a big way with the family’s own virtual-
reality show, The Osbournes. Currently the hottest show on television, it
is also the highest-rated show in MTV’s history. Since renewing their
contract with MTV, the tabloids have been writing about Osbourne
often, but it seems they are having a hard time finding enough new and
interesting dirt on him, considering almost every embarrassing moment
of his professional career has already been well-documented.
Osbourne has retained his status as an iconic figure in metal history.
His solo career has remained fairly steady throughout the years, with no
major drops in popularity. His audience has a wide variety of fans, and
they now include people well into their forties who show up to the gigs
in faded silk-screened “Ozzy for President” T-shirts. Osbourne now says
he’ll never retire, and he certainly won’t spend all day at home if Sharon
has any say about it. “The truth is that all I have is my voice,” he said.
“Without that, I can’t live.”

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