The footage of Ozzy taped for use by Entertainment Tonight was shot in early December of 1981 (not 1982 as the video notes). Ozz and his band, the perfect alignment of Randy Rhoads, Rudy Sarzo, Tommy Aldrige, and the newly added Don Airey on keyboards (who was in the band for the recording of Blizzard of Ozz) were rehearsing for the North American leg of the Diary of a Madman tour in Los Angeles. It was midway through December when rehearsals started, and a couple of weeks before their first gig at the Cow Palace – which as the name infers, got its start as a venue for massive livestock exhibitions. In 1949 it was designated to also be used as a public venue eventually playing host to AC/DC in 1980, Black Sabbath in 1983, Prince in 1985, Metallica in 1986 and Ozzy Osbourne on December 30th, 1981.
If you’re a bit of a heavy metal history buff or were around during this era of Ozzy‘s career, it had been quite the ride to date, starting with his sudden ousting from Black Sabbath in April of 1979. By March of 1980, Ozzy was at Ridge Farm Studio in England recording his first solo record, Blizzard of Ozz with the original configuration of his Blizzard of Oz band (Randy, Lee Kerslake, Bob Daisley, and Don Airey). When “Crazy Train” broke through the top ten on Billboard’s Top Tracks chart, it would propel Ozzy from “former Black Sabbath vocalist” to bonafide solo superstar. In March of 1981, Ozzy was back at Ridge Farms to record Diary of a Madman. This pretty much brings us back to the Diary warmups in LA and the brief but compelling Entertainment Tonight segment during which Ozzy drops some Ozz knowledge on us from a red throne clad in a studded red leather ensemble designed by the great Ray Brown.
During the segment, Ozzy reminds anyone attending the Diary shows that “The Ozzy Organization takes no responsibility for your mental health after their shows.” Say what? If anyone has a line on how to get into The Ozzy Organization out there, please hook me up. Anyway, Ozzy goes on to give some perspective on his former life as a burglar, which landed him in prison for two months at the age of seventeen, after he was caught stealing women’s stockings at a shop in Birmingham. Here’s Ozzy on his brief time as a teenage thief (thankfully, I speak fluent Ozzy so I was able to transcribe it):
“I was a very bad burglar. I ended up being put in prison. I could never keep a job. So, uh, somebody said ‘Do you fancy having a go at singing?’ And it just took off from there.”
Did it ever.
As I mentioned, the short feature includes the band rehearsing for the Diary Tour, and any diehard fan of Ozzy will appreciate it, as we get to watch Randy Rhoads in action. Like Ozzy, Randy was having difficulty comprehending how quickly the band had gone from recording their first album to playing The Reading Festival in August of 1980 (as “Ossie Osbourne’s Blizzard of Oz“), less than a month following the album’s UK release. This brings me to an audio interview with Rhoads, recorded during soundcheck at the Cow Palace gig. And believe me, it brings all the feels and some of the feels you forgot you had. While heaping praise on drummer Tommy Aldridge (as one should), calling him his “favorite drummer,” Randy humbly shared his thoughts on going from playing with Quiet Riot around Sunset Strip, to “knocking it out of the park” with Ozzy:
“…it’s like the word is out. I’m not confident about everything yet. I haven’t had time to sort everything out. Since I’ve started this, great things haven’t stopped happening. I mean, it gets to the point where you don’t know how to handle any good news anymore. Everything is great, and, ya’ know, when you dream of things, you don’t even dream of those, you just dream of being in a band and getting the chance to do it, let alone, like the records and the awards.
The “awards” Rhoads was referring to were his win for “Best New Talent” by Guitar Magazine and UK publication Sounds. The latter of which was presented to Randy backstage following the Cow Palace gig. The entire interview has been transcribed in the description, including a few insights from Ozzy not captured on audio. Here’s Ozzy recalling his initial reaction to Randy’s guitar prowess when he auditioned for him:
“Oh, he’s just, it’s the best. Just the best. I always said, right from the first time I ever heard him play, that one day he will be one of the rock and roll players in history. Ya know? It will be like, he (Randy) will be a historical name in rock and roll.”
Another interesting part of this impactful time in Ozzy‘s career is the fact, not the notion, that Randy didn’t like to perform Black Sabbath songs. Dana Strum, the man we can all thank for connecting Ozzy and Randy, recalls Rhoads telling him he didn’t really like the kind of music Sabbath had made, and due to that, was reluctant to audition for Ozzy. According to Bob Daisley, he also was not at all enthusiastic about recording an album with Ozzy comprised entirely of Sabbath covers (1982’s Speak of the Devil). However, during his time with Ozzy, he would perform several Sabbath tracks, including “Paranoid” which became a regular number for the band’s encore. And, despite his personal feelings on Sabbath‘s musical vibe, he put his heart and soul into them. In fact, “Paranoid” was the last song Randy ever performed live during a stop on the Diary Tour in Knoxville, Tennessee on March 18th. The following morning he perished in a horrific plane crash along with makeup artist Rachel Youngblood and tour bus driver and private pilot Andrew Aycock.
As I never like to end my articles on a down note, let’s go back to 1981 when Entertainment Tonight was completely metal for a couple of minutes. Also included is audio of Randy putting his own twist on riffs created by God (aka Tony Iommi), during the encore of a Madman show in Milwaukee in January of 1982. Can somebody please make a Time Machine already?
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