Ozzy Osbourne Interview: The Good, The Bad & The Ozzy
Reprinted from Guitar World, June 1990
Tony Iommi, Randy Rhoads, Jake E. Lee and Zakk Wylde. For more than 20 years, Ozzy Osbourne has seen guitarists come and go. What separates the men from the boys? The legendary rock madman spills the beans.
No rest for the wicked.
If only half the rumors about him are true, Ozzy Osbourne should be dead. Yet, after 21 years of twisted public behavior, the man who brought you songs like “Paranoid,” “Bark at the Moon” and “Children of the Grave” looks incredibly healthy and ready to take on the world. Ozzy recently celebrated more than 20 years in the business by polishing off a live greatest-hits EP, Just Say Ozzy, and is currently at work on his next studio metal masterpiece.
GUITAR WORLD Let’s start by looking at your past guitarists. How did you find Randy Rhoads?
OZZY OSBOURNE Thinking back, it was quite extraordinary. I had been in Black Sabbath since high school, and suddenly Tony Iommi fired me from the band. It was a shock because Sabbath had always been there. I was out of my brain on drugs and alcohol and I was stuck in the position of getting a band together. I had never auditioned anyone before and I was petrified.
The auditioning process was so embarrassing. How do you tell someone that they’re not what you’re looking for? Back then, everyone was trying to clone Jimi Hendrix. I heard nothing but “Purple Haze” and “Foxy Lady” riffs. One guy even hooked up several tape recorders and echo units so he could play both the lead and rhythms to Hendrix tunes simultaneously. It was a nightmare!
I had almost given up when somebody told Sharon [Ozzy’s wife and personal manager] about this great guitar player in town named Randy Rhoads. Shortly afterward, Randy came over to my Los Angeles apartment. He was so frail, tiny and effeminate that I thought, Oh no, oh hell. But out of politeness, I invited him to play the next day. Unfortunately, when he turned up, I was stoned out of my mind. I mean, I was on another planet. Some guy woke me up and said, “He’s here!” I looked up and Randy started playing from this tiny amp. Even in my semiconsciousness he blew my mind. I told him to come by the next day and that he had the gig.
The next day I told someone I dreamed that I hired a guitar player. They told me I didn’t dream it and that he was coming that day. I thought, Oh god, what have I done? I hope he can play!
GW How do you know when a guitarist is right or wrong?
OZZY It’s like shopping for a new suit: there may be a whole rack of blue suits, but only one will grab you. There’s no ritual, there’s no formula. I’ve just been lucky that everybody’s liked my taste in guitar players.