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20 explosive guitar moments from Ozzy Osbourne's solo career

[L-R] Ozzy Osbourne and Randy Rhoads
(Image credit: Gary Gershoff/Getty Images)

Many in the rock and metal world had assumed the Prince of Darkness had finally hung up his devil horns. But in the wake of prolonged sickness, an ever-resilient Ozzy Osbourne has risen, shocking us all with his latest solo effort, the sinister Patient Number 9.

In typical fashion, Patient Number 9 is a verifiable smorgasbord of guitar-driven exhibitionism, with the likes of Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Mike McCready, Zakk Wylde, and Toni Iommi all stopping by to sling their respective axes.

Patient Number 9 may well be Osbourne's best effort in decades, but this latest display of guitar grandeur is far from his first rodeo. Each Osbourne effort is packed to the gills with amp-imploding bravado, the likes of which few artists would attempt, let alone execute.

In the 42 years since he first unleashed Blizzard of Ozz, the impenetrable rocker has gifted the masses with droves of iconic moments – almost too many to count. Below are 20 of the most explosive guitar moments that Osbourne's adoring fans have borne witness to.

20. Scary Little Green Men

Album: Ordinary Man (2020)
Guitarist:
Tom Morello

Ozzy Osbourne's long-awaited return to the studio had its fair share of standout moments, Scary Little Green Men being one of the best of the bunch. At a glance, you might not think Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello a fit for Osbourne's singular brand of metal, and in truth, you be right. 

So, for this one, the alternative-thinking Morello chose to forgo the typical tropes, instead marking the track as his own. While lacking a definitive solo, it does feature Morello's classic funky riffing and distinct songwriting cues.

19. Lightning Strikes

Album: The Ultimate Sin (1986)
Guitarist:
Jake E. Lee

Often derided for its glam metal stylings, The Ultimate Sin is usually discarded by Osbourne's hard-edged fans. Still, in a vacuum, the record is quite good, and if you go into it with the understanding that it's a product of its time, you might just learn to love it. 

As for Lightning Strikes, it's one of the heavier cuts on an otherwise slick record. Featuring some slinky riffing over the top of a big chorus, Lightning Strikes' best moment is the second of two Jake E. Lee's solos, which handily sends this one home.

18. Gets Me Through

Album: Down to Earth (2001)
Guitarist:
Zakk Wylde

Latter-day Ozzy records can be a mixed bag, but if you're willing to sift through some fodder, you'll find some gems. When it comes to Gets Me Through, it's one of the steadier tracks from a record long since forgotten.

Zakk Wylde stamps his signature sludge-ridden riffing over a slow-paced verse before opening things up, giving way to a simple yet fierce guitar solo that howls as if the bearded guitar wizard is attempting to summon a malignant demon from hell.

17. I Don't Wanna Stop

Album: Black Rain (2007)
Guitarist:
Zakk Wylde

If there's one latter-day Osbourne track that you don't want to miss, it's I Don't Wanna Stop. Linchpinned again by Zakk Wylde, the track slithers along with sinister intent. Throughout the verses, Wylde's modulating, chugging riffs implode into momentary bursts of virtuosity before he finally relents and sets his fretboard aflame, conjuring illicit sounds begging to be cranked at max volume.

 16. One of Those Days

Album: Patient Number 9 (2022)
Guitarist:
Eric Clapton

If you've ever made a definitive statement that you'd never see Eric Clapton lend his talents to an Ozzy Osbourne track, you're probably not alone. Still, for Osbourne's latest record, Slowhand surprises the masses by delivering some tidy licks for One of Those Days

With anarchic darkness creeping in, Clapton suddenly slides in familiar blues undertones to wondrous results. About midway through, the blues hero unexpectedly channels lost visions of late '60s Cream, delivering a wah-soaked burst of glory that Clapton has seldom revisited in his post-power trio career. 

15. Hellraiser

Album: No More Tears (1991)
Guitarist:
Zakk Wylde

Often thought of as one of Wylde's signature moments, Hellraiser is a classic, for sure. It's no secret that 1991's No More Tears is considered one of Osbourne's finest records, but in some ways, it's a bit dated. That malady does affect this cut ever-so-slightly, with some out-of-place keyboards making themselves known. 

Thankfully, Wylde sees to it that we forget all of that in short order by erupting into shameless glory, pummeling any and all synths into quiet submission.

14. Bark at the Moon

Album: Bark at the Moon (1983)
Guitarist:
Jake E. Lee

For his first solo affair without Randy Rhoads, Osbourne did all that he could to make the best of things without the fallen hero, and to his credit, newcomer Jake E. Lee rose to the challenge. 

Sure, in some ways, Bark at the Moon followed an already established blueprint. But with Lee in the fold, for better or worse, the neoclassical stylings were gone; instead, the throttle was ratcheted to its wit's end, with traditional heavy metal nuances front and center. This track is significant because it proved to the world that for Osbourne, there was life after Randy Rhoads.

13. Goodbye to Romance

Album: Blizzard of Ozz (1980)
Guitarist:
Randy Rhoads

In one of the most delicate moments in his esteemed catalog, Goodbye to Romance found Osbourne sorrowfully pouring his heart out. Poetics aside, the track is integral to understanding the breadth of the rocker's catalog. 

Osbourne can raise hell – that much we know – but many often forget his ability to channel a cheerless power ballad. Perhaps a harbinger of what was to come, Goodbye to Romance made it cool to key in on emotion, and Rhoads' soulful guitar stylings sure didn't hurt either.

12. My Jekyll Doesn't Hyde

Album: Ozzmosis (1995)
Guitarist:
Zakk Wylde

Hitting shelves at the tail end of the grunge explosion – which Osbourne shrewdly sat out – Ozzmosis was overlooked and even lamented by many of the singer's core fans. 

A sad situation, to be sure, but there's still time to flip the script; if you're looking for a starting point, My Jekyll Doesn't Hyde is the ticket. In what can only be described as an autobiographical affair, the real selling point is Zakk Wylde's contribution, which amounts to demonic riffing and lava-spewing guitar mastery, the likes of which are bound to make your blood boil.

11. Immortal

Album: Patient Number 9 (2022)
Guitarist:
Mike McCready

Curious onlookers would be best served to expect the unexpected; that way, you'll be better prepared when Osbourne does things like feature grunge guitar maestro Mike McCready on a record. McCready and Osbourne are an obvious mismatch on paper, but as they say, “You don't play the game on paper.”

The best way to describe McCready's two cents, Immortal, is sublime. Disclaimer: crossover fans expecting the grunge stalwart to channel Pearl Jam vibes will be sadly disappointed. Instead, McCready dug deep into his bag of tricks and crafted a solo that harks back to his time in '80s proto-metal outfit Shadow.

10. Over the Mountain

Album: Diary of a Madman (1981)
Guitarist:
Randy Rhoads

Fans will recall Over the Mountain as one of Osbourne's signature tracks, and with good reason: it's outstanding. With a chorus tailor-made for FM radio, and a riff that stays with you for days after you've heard it, it's easy to see why this song is well loved. 

Digging into Rhoads' playing, Over the Mountain provides another layer of depth to the Flying V toting wunderkind's arsenal. Throughout not one but two impressive solos, Rhoads lets loose an auditory assault coated in a buttery smooth tone so sickly sweet you can almost taste it.

9. Killer of Giants

Album: The Ultimate Sin (1986)
Guitarist:
Jake E. Lee

Speaking of delectable tone, Jake E. Lee's sinful licks showcased in 1986's Killer of Giants are beholden as a thing of glorious guitar-driven splendor. As far as the track goes, it's mid-tempo, with some frenetic moments and a bit of a hard-to-place ambience. 

Waves of power chords caress the edges of Osbourne's mystical lyricism, with otherwise sparse instrumentation making for not only one of Lee's finest moments but one of Osbourne's best post-Rhoads cuts, period.

8. Miracle Man

Album: No Rest for the Wicked (1988)
Guitarist:
Zakk Wylde

With Jake E. Lee moving on and many of his fans galvanized by his foray into hair metal, Osbourne needed to make a statement. After reportedly auditioning just about every guitarist on the Sunset Strip, Osbourne settled on the relatively unknown Zakk Wylde.

The move would pay off, forcing Osbourne back towards his heavy metal roots. For Miracle Man, Wylde's solo is chaotically tasteful, but the track's real signature is defined by a talk box, which is entirely uncommon in Osbourne's music.

7. S.A.T.O.

Album: Diary of a Madman (1981)
Guitarist:
Randy Rhoads

It's no secret that Randy Rhoads was a pioneer of the neoclassical style of guitar, but on S.A.T.O., Rhoads threw that completely out the window and deployed his best '70s-era Toni Iommi impression.

Admittedly, the solo is a touch technical, but the chord structure and riffing are as proto-metal as it gets. All in all, for S.A.T.O., Rhoads set aside his demonstrative style and did an exemplary job of creating an atmospheric vibe above all else.

6. Patient Number 9

Album: Patient Number 9 (2022)
Guitarist:
Jeff Beck

One of the many things that make Osbourne's latest record excellent is his willingness to step outside of his comfort zone and juxtapose musical elements in ways that seem wrong but ultimately are oh-so-right. To be sure, including fingerstyle fusion legend Jeff Beck would undoubtedly fall into that category. 

As Patient Number 9 kicks off, the listener might feel a bit uneasy, and the first of two solos doesn't do much to dispel that. But stick it out until the end, and Beck treats you to one of the finest guitar moments ever laid to tape on an Osbourne full-length.

5. Mr. Tinkertrain

Album: No More Tears (1991)
Guitarist:
Zakk Wylde

Ballsy riffs, heavy open chords, and slight synth touches immerse the listener, sleepily guiding them through the first four-plus minutes of the quirky Mr. Tinkertrain.

All is calm until Zakk Wylde bludgeons you over the head and rams his guitar right down your throat. While Osbourne does his best to repel the Berzerker with a seething call to arms, Wylde's blues-inspired shredding kicks him square in the teeth, proving once and for all why he may well be Osbourne's best, if not most versatile, sideman of all.

4. Road to Nowhere

Album: No More Tears (1991)
Guitarist:
Zakk Wylde

In a catalog defined by bombast and machismo, Road to Nowhere is something of a different flavor. Not quite a power ballad, and certainly not a high-intensity rocker, Road to Nowhere serves as Zakk Wylde's definitive moment. 

Chiming, open chords allude to chugging riffs, all of which are accented by sheepish blues soloing throughout, with spurts of shred mixed in for taste. Toward the end, Wylde blows things open, offering up his masterstroke: one of the most dynamic, clear-toned heavy metal solos you will ever feast your ears on. If you're trying to understand what makes Zakk Wylde great, this track lays it all on the line.

 3. Crazy Train

Album: Blizzard of Ozz (1980)
Guitarist:
Randy Rhoads

Undoubtedly, Ozzy Osbourne's best-known track, Crazy Train, is the archetype for all that came after – not only for Osbourne but, in many ways, all of popular rock music. Deeply heavy, intricately complex, and outrageously catchy riffing earmark Crazy Train's guitar playing with a bullet. 

If you've ever been to a sporting event, listened to the radio, or existed on planet Earth, you've heard this one. While this is a great song, with a legendary and oft-imitated solo, you don't need to be a fan of Osbourne's work to know and love it.

2. Mr. Crowley

Album: Blizzard of Ozz (1980)
Guitarist:
Randy Rhoads

Tragically paired for only two records, the star-crossed duo of Ozzy Osbourne and Randy Rhoads still managed to change the musical landscape. While hard to comprehend their symbiosis, let alone the cavernous depths of Rhoads's talent, if you endeavor to do so, Mr. Crowley is a good start. 

And while Rhoads featured prominently among several forever-loved tracks, Mr. Crowley shows the full spectrum of his ability. Serpentine riffing and melodic soloing pan across the speakers, taking listeners on a sonic journey unlike any other. You can't help but reminisce on the one-of-a-kind talent lost when Rhoads left this Earth.

1. Rock 'N' Roll Rebel

Album: Bark at the Moon (1983)
Guitarist:
Jake E. Lee

You might have expected Randy Rhoads to be positioned at the top of this list, but it's Rhoads' successor, Jake E. Lee, posturing at the stage's edge. Bucking his guitar against his hip and bloodying his scurrying fingers in a race to hot-rodded Stratocaster glory, Lee is often the forgotten man on Osbourne's guitar totem pole. 

Rock 'N' Roll Rebel is a torrid deep cut, forcefully positioning Lee chest to guitar-strapped chest with Rhoads' ghost. If you've not heard or have perhaps forgotten, Rock 'N' Roll Rebel is a not-so-gentle reminder of Jake E. Lee’s reign as Osbourne’s partner in controlled chaos.

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Andrew Daly is a contributing writer at Guitar World. In addition to currently working with Copper Magazine, Goldmine Magazine, Ultimate Guitar, Andrew is the founder and editor of VWMusic, a successful rock-oriented outlet launched in 2019. Andrew has interviewed the likes of Joe Perry, Stone Gossard, Paul Stanley, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Tommy Thayer, and many more. While his instrument of choice may be the drums, Andrew is a lover of all things guitar. Some of his favorite bands are KISS, Oasis, Spread Eagle, and Starz.