Jennifer Batten has suggested that her being a woman prevented her from being considered as Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist in the ‘80s.
In a new interview with Ultimate Guitar (opens in new tab), the former Michael Jackson guitarist discusses the sexism she has faced throughout her career, and elaborates on how she believes it could have cost her the gig with the Prince of Darkness.
“I’ve gotten comments over the years,” she says. “A lot of guys will say to you ‘You play pretty good for a girl.’ Or, the best one, this guy said, ‘You play just like a boy.’ What does that even mean?”
“[There are] millions of male guitar players, some are great and some suck, so it has no meaning. But you kind of have to look at the energy that’s coming at you, and he meant it as a positive thing.”
She continues: “I remember, specifically, before the Jackson thing came up, I was trying to get an audition with Ozzy Osbourne. And they were auditioning everybody in LA at the time. And I know my audio got to the right people, and I didn’t even get a chance.
“Looking back, it’s a super-macho gig, and they probably wouldn’t even consider a female for that. Having said that, if it was the same thing today, I think it’d be a whole different story.
“You get somebody like Nili Brosh – [who] could slay in a gig like that. She has incredible chops, great tone, great attitude, everything. It’s a different world. It is a very different world now.”
Back in June, Batten told Guitar World about how the sexism throughout her career continued into her tenure with Michael Jackson. She detailed two incidents with Jackson’s manager, Frank DiLeo.
“The first time, he goes, ‘Now that you have the gig, I could probably get you a spread in Playboy.’ I was horrified!” Batten recalled. “I though, ‘What the fuck are you… I’m a guitar player!’
“It wasn’t pressure. It’s just something coming from his perspective that he thought was a big deal, because anybody around him just wants to be famous, however it takes to get there, and I was not of that ilk.”
The second time, she explains, DiLeo offered to buy her breast augmentation surgery.
“We were somewhere in Europe at a party, and that bastard came up to me, he looked at my chest, and he goes, ‘You need some tits. I’ll buy them for you.’
“I think probably every woman in the industry has run into something like that at some point because it’s a man’s world. Women are making a lot of headway, but overall it’s still a man’s world with a man’s perspective.”
Elsewhere in the new Ultimate Guitar interview, Batten says she’s “super proud” of Nita Strauss for continuing to champion the electric guitar for women in 2022.
“It’s kind of funny, I think if I were her age, I’d probably do a similar kind of thing on stage – the hair flippy thing, [laughs] that the metal guys do. But that is so not who I am right now. It just kind of cracks me up.”