Randy Rhoads: All Aboard!
But the moment proved fleeting.
“Stop! Stop!” he yelled into the microphone waving his arms in the air. “I can’t hear a bloody word I’m singing.”
The solutions to our individual monitoring problems had increased the stage volume so much that Ozzy couldn’t hear himself. The sound crew gathered around them offering a few solutions. Eventually, the monitor engineer decided that placing floor wedges across the front of the stage would give Ozzy the volume he required.
“What about the side-fills?” Ozzy asked. “Add more side-fills and pump voice through them!”
“That’s not a good idea,” Sharon interrupted. “As it is, they already obstruct a good portion of the stage and I was hoping to sell those side seats.”
“We can always fly the side-fills,” the engineer suggested.
“Oh, I don’t think so,” Sharon said. “Having to pay for extra rigging every night might turn out to be too costly.”
“I don’t give a fuck how much it costs,” Ozzy bellowed. “Just bloody do it!” And with that, he walked out.
In the midst of rehearsal, Christmas arrived. I had been invited to spend it at the Ardens’ house, and upon my arrival, I found Ozzy and Randy in the game room, checking out a plush red velvet medieval throne.
"Hey Ruds," said Ozzy, as he sat on the throne, "watch this! This is how I'm going to appear onstage." He placed his arms on the armrests and his legs out front as Randy began pulling down a series of red roller blinds that covered Ozzy’s arms, legs, lap and body. When he was finished, Ozzy was completely concealed within the throne, within which he held a few strings that kept the blinds in place.
From behind the blinds, I heard him say, “Here’s Ozzy!” mimicking Jack Nicholson’s character in The Shining. In a split second, the blinds rolled back as he released the strings, and Ozzy appeared as if out of thin air.
“Wow, that’s really cool!” I said, impressed.
“Yeah, it was expensive as fuck, too,” Ozzy replied.
“Sharon had this bloody magician design it. As soon as he finished building she had him snuffed.”
“You’re not gonna believe the other stuff he made for Ozzy,” Randy said as he walked over to a big brown trunk and rummaged through its contents. He pulled out a leopard print cape with large sharp claws and a football helmet covered with a leopard’s head with red blinking eyes. He put them on and began chasing Ozzy around the room.
Ozzy burst out laughing. “I can’t wear that onstage! I’ll look like a total cunt!”
On the morning of December 30, we flew from Los Angeles to San Francisco to begin a day-long marathon at the Northern California rock landmark, the Cow Palace. Our schedule included last-minute preproduction adjustments, a nearly endless soundcheck, press interviews and award presentations, all of which culminated with the opening night of the tour.
For the first time since we’d begun rehearsal, we had the full production set up on our own stage. Finally, we could rehearse one of the show’s most elaborate special effects: a 10-foot gauntlet designed to lift Ozzy high above the first few rows. At the show’s end, as smoke filled the stage, the giant hand would emerge from underneath the drum riser. Ozzy would climb aboard and hold onto its handrails as the gauntlet extended out above the audience. Sparklers on each of the four fingers would be set off. For the finishing touch, he would step on a lever behind him, releasing a catapult that would hurl raw meat into the cheering crowd.
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