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Brad Gillis on his modified Strat, working with Gary Moon and that time he bought a wig for Ozzy Osbourne

(Image credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images for iHeartMedia)

What can fans expect from your upcoming solo album?

It’s aggressive and heavy but there are also a few ballads. There’s a track called Sex and the Money that’s about meeting who you think is the girl of your dreams – only to find out that she’s really a hooker. There’s also a song on which I’m singing called World Shut Down.“

The last time you worked with Gary Moon was on Night Ranger’s Feeding Off the Mojo [1995]. What was it like working with him on your solo project?

“Gary’s a great bass player and his voice is so pure; that’s why I brought him back in. I’ve also got [keyboardist] Derek Sherinian, plus drummers Larry Howe (from Vicious Rumors) and Matthias Montgomery playing on a bunch of tracks.“

What’s the story behind your 1962 Strat?

“I’d just finished my stint with Rubicon back in 1978 when a friend knocked on the door with pieces of a sanded Strat he didn’t want. I had a gallon of orange paint and took it to a shop where it was primed and painted. I then had the neck painted black and the original Fender decal put on. Around the same time, word was getting around about the new Floyd Rose tremolos. 

“I loved how Eddie [Van Halen] worked the bar and did dive bombs. I found the third one at a shop in San Francisco and traded a Les Paul Custom for it. They installed the tremolo on my Strat and threw in a fret job. The deal was done and a new ball game began.“

Do you have any fun stories about your stint with Ozzy?

“There was the time we did the Texxas Jam [August 1982]; when we got to town, no one could find Ozzy. Then he showed up the morning of the gig with his head shaved. We rushed out and bought him a wig, and Rudy [Sarzo] cut it to make it look like Ozzy’s real hair. 

“Then we came up with the idea of using fake blood so when he slowly pulled it off, it looked like he was ripping off his scalp. I’ll never forget playing in front of 80,000 people and watching their mouths drop open in amazement. That was definitely one of the highlights of the tour.“

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James is a guitarist and freelance writer who's interviewed some of the biggest names in music. He is the author of four books and his writing credits include work for Guitar World, AXS and Yahoo! as well as for his hometown newspaper where he writes on a variety of topics with both passion and humor. As a guitarist, he's performed everywhere from local bars and nightclubs to some of the biggest stages in front of thousands of music fans.