The following interview, which appears in the April 2012 issue of Guitar World magazine, is excerpted from the book Randy Rhoads by Steven Rosen and Andrew Klein (Velocity Publishing Group).
In 1979, Randy Rhoads had to decide whether to stay with a struggling unknown act called Quiet Riot or join forces with the famous former lead singer from Black Sabbath. The decision wasn't as easy as you think.
Dana Strum -- the Hollywood-based Badaxe and Slaughter bassist who Ozzy Osbourne considered for his new band -- recalls the events surrounding Randy Rhoads' audition for Ozzy:
You hooked up with Ozzy Osbourne in Los Angeles in the fall of 1979, after he left Black Sabbath. How did that come about?
DANA STRUM: Ozzy walked into the Starwood one night with another guy from Jet Records [Don Arden’s label, which released Osbourne’s records], who said to me, “Ozzy wants to talk with you about a new band he is putting together.” I was directed to Frank Zappa’s rehearsal and recording facility on Sunset Boulevard and told to be there around 4:30 or 5 o’clock with all my gear.
I walked in and met a very young Ozzy Osbourne, who was sitting on a couch, clearly not looking like the photographs I was used to seeing. Gary Moore was there, auditioning with a bass player and drummer, and I thought, I don’t think Ozzy has the right band. As I watched Gary Moore, I thought, That guy is phenomenal, but he’s not right for this kind of music. It was now my turn to audition, and Ozzy later said, “Come back to the hotel so we can talk about doing something together.”
Ozzy was drinking quite a bit at the time, and I’m sure there was even more substance abuse. He would often go out on the balcony and very strange things would happen. He’d open the balcony and kind of look at the sky and scream, and it would start to rain. He kept referring to me as “the band,” but there was no band, and he would talk about writing riffs, but there was no guitarist.
So I said to him, “I know the guitar player that you need to see. Oh, believe me, I know the guy; he’s definitely the guy.” Ozzy said, “Calm down, let’s have a drink and talk some more, because tomorrow I need your help. We’re going out to look at guitar players.”
I got Randy Rhoads’ number from [Runaways bassist] Jackie Fox, called him and left a message that said, “My name is Dana, I have seen you a million times and I think you’re unbelievable. I don’t think you belong in Quiet Riot, and I have an opportunity for you. Call me. It’s about the singer from Black Sabbath.” I thought, Who wouldn’t want to play with the singer from Black Sabbath?
After receiving no response, I called again. Then, I called again at 10:30, 11, and then again at midnight. Finally, at one in the morning, he answered and said, “Yeah, I got your message.” I said, “This guy will give you your big chance, and you have to hear me out on this.” Randy said, “Well, I am not really a big fan of that music,” and I was devastated. “What? How can you play like that and not love Black Sabbath? You have to like Black Sabbath,” and he said, “No, not really.” I went down the Sabbath song list. “Well, what about this song?” “No.” “What about this one?” “Nah, not really.” And I thought, Oh no, this is terrible.
I said, “Randy, listen, even if you didn’t like the band, this is still a great opportunity. You’ve got to come down. I want you to play and I want Ozzy to see you, but not at a Quiet Riot gig.” I wanted Ozzy to see him the same way I envisioned it. After more phone calls, I said, “Please tell me you are cool with this.” Finally, he said, “Yeah, it sounds kind of interesting.” I said, “Okay, great. Let me figure this out, because we’re supposed to go see some other guitar players today.”
For the rest of this story, including details on the audition process, the first meeting between Randy and Ozzy and their first rehearsal together, check out the new April 2012 issue of Guitar World magazine. It's available everywhere, including the Guitar World Online Store.
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Photo: Ross Halfin