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Shane’s Rock Challenge: OZZY OSBOURNE – 1981 – Blizzard Of Ozz

| 6 May 2014 | Reply

Shane’s Rock Challenge: OZZY OSBOURNE – 1981 – Blizzard Of Ozz

Ozzy Osbourne - Blizzard Of Ozz cover

Ozzy Osbourne was trapped inside a blizzard of coke and booze for a year after being sacked – finally – from Black Sabbath following their lacklustre tour for the Never Say Die album.

Don Arden, one time Sabbath manager and by this time owner of Jet Records, was the only one who would give the ailing singer a record deal in his sodden and pathetic state, and he despatched daughter Sharon to look after his investment.

Sharon Arden kicked the bloated Osbourne out of bed and forced him to assemble a hungry young band and get his shit together, writing one of the albums of his career faster than anyone had any right to expect.

Recruiting Lee Kerslake to drum on the new project – originally intended to be a collaborative band named Blizzard Of Ozz – and Don Airey on keyboards, Osbourne then found his pair of Aces in the Hole.

Bassist Bob Daisley would prove to be the perfect foil for Osbourne’s songwriting in just the same way Sabbath’s Geezer Butler had, penning lyrics to fit Osbourne’s ideas and vocal melodies. (Weird that Ozzy has such a history with lyricist bass players, but whatever works for you, right.)

And then there’s guitarist Randy Rhoads. Fresh from a couple of Japanese-only albums with L.A. wannabees Quiet Riot, Rhoads was a breath of fresh air in the heavy metal guitar world – a man with stunning tone, unique style and a songwriter to boot!

It’s unfair to say that it was Rhoads who single-handedly reinvigorated Osbourne’s career. As with any major turnaround like this, it was a team effort. It took Sharon Arden to stop Osbourne’s slow suicide in that hotel room and get him refocussed enough to kick start his career, not to mention handle his business affairs from that moment on and eventually become Mrs Osbourne. Without Daisley to put words to Ozzy’s thoughts, there likely wouldn’t be songs like I Don’t Know, Crazy Train, Goodbye To Romance, Suicide Solution and Mr Crowley – all still amongst the most loved of his long career.

Rhoads though copped all the glory – his playing revolutionised not only Osbourne’s music (was this really the same guy who sounded tired and uninspired only a year before with Sabbath?!?) but metal in general. The influence from his playing was as far reaching and is still being heard as much as Eddie Van Halen’s was less than a decade previously.

There’s all sorts of tales to tell after the release of Blizzard Of Ozz: Like, how the record label put it out under Ozzy’s name not the band, prompting Sharon to see the opportunity to get Ozzy’s solo career rolling under a full head of steam, prompting Daisley and Kerslake to yell foul. They’d also later sue for unpaid songwriting royalties, and in a fit of rage in 2002 Sharon would have the rhythm section of Osbourne’s then-band re-record their parts completely, erasing them from the recordings. (Ozzy would later insist the originals were reissued, almost ten years later for the album’s 30th anniversary release)

Suicide Solution prompted legal problems when a couple of kids attempted to kill themselves while the song was playing, and then there’s the ‘feud’ started by Quiet Riot’s frontman Kevin DuBrow over Rhoads’ ‘poaching’ by Osbourne, which went into overdrive a couple of all-too-short years later when the petite blonde guitarist died in tragic circumstances.

Throw in another zillion insane booze and drugs stories about Ozzy, and you’ve got a turbulent ride by one of rock and metal’s original wildmen, but with Sharon’s immense business sense behind him and a relentless work schedule of touring and recording for the follow-up album just a few months after the release of Blizzard, Osbourne’s solo career was off and running, whereas a few months before many had thought he wouldn’t have lived to see 1981.

By Shane Pinnegar

Category: Shane's Rock Challenge

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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