Ozzy Osbourne was too drunk to recognise Randy Rhoads' talent when he first auditioned: “I thought, it’s never gonna work”

[L-R] Ozzy Osbourne and Randy Rhoads
(Image credit: Fin Costello/Redferns)

Randy Rhoads remains one of the most influential metal guitarists of all time, his leads in Quiet Riot and under Ozzy Osbourne indelibly scribbled into the heavy metal history books.

But as the Prince of Darkness explains in a new interview with Stereogum (opens in new tab), he nearly didn’t hire the guitar icon when he first came to audition for him in 1979, on account that he was too drunk to even entertain Rhoads’ playing.

“I’d never formed a band of people around me, and I’d never auditioned anyone. I didn’t know how to audition,” Ozzy recalls. “[My producer, Dana Strum] brought Randy round when I was fuckin’ three sheets to the wind. I’d been drinking all day. And this little guy came in, and I thought he was a girl at first. He was such a tiny guy.

“I said, ‘Fucking hell. I’m done. I’ve had enough of this. I want to go home now.’ I thought, it’s never gonna work, I’m going home. Dana said, ‘Just see this one last guitar player.’ I was fucked up. I said, ‘I want to go home. Bring him back tomorrow and I’ll see him.”

Despite being hungover the next day – or, more accurately, still drunk – Ozzy met with Rhoads for the guitarist’s rescheduled audition, and, expectedly, was blown away by his playing.

“I was still fucked up the next day [and] Rhoads shows up with this little amp and a white Les Paul,” Ozzy continues. “He says, ‘What do you want me to play?’ I said, Whatever the fuck, I don’t care.’

“So he started playing, and I was like, ‘What the fuck is this?’ Even in my stupor. I put it to him this way: ‘I don’t know if you’re as good as I think you are, but I’ll see you tomorrow.’ The next day, when I was sober, he just blew my mind [again]. He was fucking unbelievable.”

[L-R] Ozzy Osbourne and Randy Rhoads

(Image credit: Fin Costello/Redferns)

Elsewhere in the interview, Ozzy remembers how patient Rhoads was as his six-string sidekick.

“The one thing about Randy Rhoads that I’m forever grateful for, is he spent time with me,” Ozzy says. “He didn’t sit in the recording booth and give me some melody to do over what he played, regardless of whether I could do it on stage or not. Then you’d get this stuff that you couldn’t do on stage.

“But he would say, ‘It would be better if you could sing it in this key,’ you know. He was very patient.”

Earlier this month, Ozzy Osbourne released his highly anticipated 13th solo album, Patient Number 9. For several tracks on the album, Ozzy teamed up with his former right-hand man Zakk Wylde, including on third single Nothing Feels Right, which saw the guitarist offer up a minute-long serving of shred packed with rapid alternate picking and uber-melodic runs.

Back in July, Wylde called the new record “slamming”, noting that it was a “huge honor” to be involved considering the caliber of some of the musicians who appear on it.

“Ozzy’s singing [is] great, and I get to put my little fiddly-diddly bits all over it,” he said. “And on top of it, being on an album with Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Lord [Tony] Iommi… I mean, if you would have told me when I was 15 years old that I’m going to be on a record with Ozzy, Tony Iommi, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton, I would have been; ‘Forget it!’”

Earlier this month, Ozzy Osbourne stoked the seemingly eternal Randy Rhoads vs. Eddie Van Halen debate, noting that “Randy didn’t have a nice thing to say about Eddie”. But quotes from a 1982 interview with Guitar World conflict with Ozzy’s comments, in which Rhoads called Van Halen a “great player”.

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Sam is a Staff Writer at Guitar World, also creating content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar (opens in new tab).