Interview with Bob Daisley
Interview conducted by Cameron Edney
Date online: April 18, 2005
The Blizzard of Bob
A Conversation with BOB DAISLEY
Interview by Cameron Edney
Bob Daisley is a true pioneer in the Hard rock & Heavy metal industry. This year marks the 40th year that Bob has been in the business, pounding out Bass riffs & writing classic tunes with some of the rock & metal worlds best known & most influential artists. I recently had the pleasure of meeting with Bob and talking about what has been an amazing musical career. We spoke about Bob's beginnings growing up in Sydney before taking off to England in his early twenties. An event that sparked a career which had him playing with the likes of Gary Moore, Rainbow, Uriah Heep and the madman of metal Ozzy Osbourne to name a few. He also speaks candidly about his time with the late great Randy Rhoads and Bob's most recent recording's with Living Loud featuring Bob's long time friend and drummer extraordinaire Lee Kerslake, Steve Morse & Australia's own Jimmy Barnes. Get ready to come on a no holds barred journey with the man behind such classics as, Miracle Man, Crazy Train, Suicide Solution and Goodbye to Romance among many others. This is one interview you know you don't want to miss!
First of all Bob I want to thank you for taking the time out do this interview! It's such an honour to be sitting here with you being such a fan of your work I can't begin to tell you how thrilled I was when you agreed to do this interview.
That's alright. It's always good to do interviews if they've got good coverage because people want to know what really happened in so many different situations and I like the truth to get out there.
O.K. well lets start all the way back at the beginning. You grew up in Chester Hill here in Sydney & picked up the bass at the age of 14.
Yes that's right. I had guitar lessons when I was 13 for about a year, just learning the basics of music. I saw a little band that had an electric bass, which I suppose back in 64', was a relatively new thing. Through the fifties Fender had electric basses etc but to see one in the flesh I thought to myself that's what I want to do, that's what I want to play.
So the bass has always been the weapon of choice then? The thought never crossed your mind as you entered your late teens early twenties to do some drumming or try your hand at singing?
No if you heard me sing you wouldn't say that. [Laughs] The drum thing I've always been interested in, drums & rhythms. Quite often when I'm in the studio working with various different drummers whether it was Lee Kerslake or Carmine Appice or whoever, I always make suggestions of beats & bass drum patterns so that does come into it.
At the age of twenty you packed up and set off for England! That must have been an exciting but quite scary experience all at the same time?
Yeah I'd just turned 21. It was a big step & it was an exciting & frightening step. People travel more nowadays its easier its cheaper but in those days in 1971 people didn't flit around the world so easily or so frequently & it was frightening to leave your home & your mum and dad, your family and friends, all of a sudden you get off a plane & next thing you know you're in London. I knew a couple of people there; one of the guys that we had in a band as a singer here in Sydney was Clive Coulson, was living over there. We were in a band together called Mecca and he worked for Led Zeppelin. Clive was originally from London, grew up in new Zealand & then he had been working in London with Led Zeppelin, Jeff beck & people like that & then came back here to Australia in 1969 – 1970 and joined our band as a singer. He had been a singer when he was younger in New Zealand as well. Then he left our band because he got a telegram, (in those days there were no mobile phones or emails), from Peter Grant who was Zeppelins manager, because they wanted him to go back to London & work with Led Zeppelin again. So he jumped on a plane & headed back there. I looked him up when I got to London, I stayed at his place in his tiny spare room for a few weeks until I got this shit hole flat [Laughs]. It was horrible, first of all I was cleaning houses & flats and doin shit kicking work like that & after a while I got a job in a restaurant. Clive came into the restaurant one day with a bit of paper in hand with a name & a phone number on it. It was blues guitarist Stan Webb who was a bit of a legend and had a band called Chicken Shack. They were one of the big name blues bands at the time along with Savoy brown, Fleetwood Mac and Chicken Shack were right up there as well. Stan's was a bit rockier blues but it was still blues it was a good break, it put me onto the scene & I was more than happy & thankful to get it.
In the early days you were playing in bands such as Kahvas Jute!
Well Kahvas Jute was here in Sydney in 1970. It's really through Kahvas Jute that I ended up in London. I was in Kahvas Jute with Dennis Wilson & it was going alright. I had a bit of a funny situation with the drummer Dannie Davidson & his wife. (She was a bit of a Yoko) [laughs] and I was going through a bit of a tough time. I had just broken up with my girlfriend, I said "Oh Fuck it" and I left the band and said "you get on with it". They wanted to go to England earlier than I wanted to and I said "you would be better to stay here & put the roots in down here, establish yourself here more before we go to London" But they couldn't wait to get over there so I left the band & they went over in the May of 71. Then in June I got a phone call from them in London saying the band doesn't sound right it doesn't sound the same without you, will you come over. So I said Ok, I sold my car, my Marshall stack and I got a plane ticket. I think the day before I was supposed to leave I got another call saying "It doesn't matter we found someone" [laughs]. My mum, dad, sister and friends said fuck them you go, you show em, don't let that put you off, you go anyway you should go. So I was encouraged to go and off I went by myself. I had nothing to go to and that was frightening but exciting at the same time.
Did you meet up with them when you arrived in London?
Yeah. Dennis Wilson I think was a bit embarrassed by the whole thing because it was more Dannie & his Yoko wife that made that decision but it was all meant to happen as it happened. It was really what helped me to go over there because I wouldn't have thought that I'd go to London by myself with nothing to go to. I probably wouldn't have done that. They kind of dragged me over even though it didn't work out and I didn't get back with them it still got me there.
Well it sure put you on to bigger & better things! I believe you did some recent work again with the guys?
Yeah with Tim Gaze who I worked with in The Hoochie Coochie Men. He was the guitaist in Kahvas Jute on that first album & Dennis Wilson was the lead singer/guitarist in Kahvas Jute. Dennis & I had also worked together in the band Mecca with Clive Coulson. Tim, Dennis & I wrote a few songs just recently together & it turned out really good. Im really pleased with it. It's really ballsy hard rock stuff.
Sounds great I look forward to hearing it, I want to come back to the song writing in a moment but before we discuss that I want to know a bit about your time in Rainbow. I believe Ritchie Blackmore invited you to join the band?
Yeah I was at the end of a Widowmaker tour in America in August 1977; we had a couple of shows to do at the Whiskey. A friend of mine Dick Middleton who I had worked with in Mungo Jerry years before was living in L.A. So I looked him up for old time's sake. He was also a friend of Ritchie Blackmores. He said "Ritchie lives here and I know Rainbow is looking for a bass player. Would you be interested?" I said well yeah I'd be interested & he arranged a meeting where we would go out with Ritchie have a few beers & a chat. It wouldn't matter how great a player you were, if he didn't get on with you, you wouldn't be there. We got on fine and he invited me for an audition. I think they had auditioned something like 35 – 40 bass players but they couldn't find a guy they liked. I auditioned & he put me through the paces play this, play that, do it this way, that way and at the end of the audition he said "Well you've got the gig if you want it". The funny thing was I said "I don't know I'll think about it". [Laughs] The only reason I said that was because people had kind of warned me about Rainbow & the Ritchie situation "they'll chew you up & spit you out". "He'll use you for 3 months and then he will get someone else". But that didn't happen.
I did have to think about it for a while, my wife Vicki was in London and she used to phone me at the hotel and say "look just do it" "it's a good stepping stone even if it does only last just 6 months". It lasted about 18 months but it certainly was a great experience, it was a good learning time, an enjoyable professional band. It was the first band I had been in that was playing the big shows in arenas.
I have heard that Ronnie James Dio is a very hard man to work with. Did you find this working with him in Rainbow?
Not in Rainbow so much because I think everybody accepted the fact that it was Ritchie's band, it started off being called Ritchie Blackmores Rainbow & then by the time the second album was released they had dropped the Ritchie Blackmore bit & just billed it as Rainbow, but it was really Ritchie's band.
I did a few shows with Ronnie at the end of 1998. He called me because he needed a bass player as his bass player at the time couldn't do the Scandinavian tour. Ronnie had asked me to do it. So I sat at home with some of the records & went through the tracks & then rehearsed with them. I flew to London, Ronnie was doing a show there the day I arrived which I went to and had a look at. The following night we flew to Scandinavia and did a show there. I was still jet lagged & as my dad had just died I wasn't in a great frame of mind, but Ronnie was ok to work with, I mean he's quite particular in what he wants but he didn't seem much different to me to the time we spent together in Rainbow. I suppose it depends on the individual, the situation etc.
Going back to the song writing, every artist has their own way of writing & composing. The fantastic list of songs that you have written during your time with Ozzy Osbourne alone is endless let alone your contributions in Uriah Heep, Gary Moore and so on. For you what comes first the music or the lyrics?
Well sometimes I get lyrical ideas and I think Ahh! There's a good idea & just jot it down, and sometimes we might be working out chords or riffs & you think Ahh! Those lyrics that I jotted down that day might fit with this. A lot of the time you just come up with riffs & then you think well what should this song be about, the attitude of the song maybe this or lets make it about that and then you might write lyrics for it after that.
With a lot of the Ozzy stuff no matter what guitar player it was, whether it was Randy, Jake or Zakk or whoever it was we would sit down and work out a lot of the music first and then Ozzy would come in. Ozzy's quite good at vocal melodies but he doesn't write lyrics. So he would just sing any old nonsense over the top of the music that we had written & then I'd take tapes away of his melody's & his phrasing then I'd write lyrics to it.
Some of the content of it I came up with & sometimes he'd just have a title and he'd say "Oh I've got this title write it about this". I remember there was one of the songs from The Ultimate Sin called "Thank God for the Bomb" & I thought well what the fuck do you write that about, it sounds like a war monger or something. What I wrote it about was that it's the one thing that's stopping major wars.
It's really funny I would have thought that now Ozzy was out on his own, he would have contributed a lot more in the way of writing lyrics?
No not at all, he's never been a lyricist even when he was in Black Sabbath. Geezer wrote all the lyrics. You know he would come up with one line like in Suicide Solution. I came up with the title & I came up with what it was going to be about, it was about him.
Oh Really. It's funny you say that because a few days back I was watching Ozzy's video Don't Blame Me where he says he wrote Suicide Solution about Bon Scott?
He's a fuck. He didn't write it. I know what I wrote it about. Ozzy at the time had been kicked out of Black Sabbath & this was our first album. Ozzy was drinking himself to death. He would start drinking at lunch time and carry on all through the afternoon into the evening. Sometimes when we were writing, Randy & I would go looking for him & there he'd be passed out in front of the fireplace, pissed himself, comatose. "Yeah this is really productive" [laughs]. "You keep that up Ozzy we're gonna get fuck all done & you're gonna kill yourself". Ozzy came up with the first line which I think is from something else anyway, it's not even his but he did say it and that was "Wine is fine but whiskeys quicker". That was the only line he came up with & I wrote the rest of the song about him as a warning to killing himself with alcohol. Bon Scott did die during the recording of that album in 1980. I remember hearing about Bon. It was horrible, he was a mate of mine. I would certainly admit to it if I had written it about Bon Scott because we were friends but I wrote it about Ozzy. It's blatant what he does you know, in interviews & things "Well when I wrote this & when I wrote that" That's bullshit Ozzy and you know it!
How do you constantly come up with new material without falling into the trap that a lot of artists do by repeating themselves?
A lot of the subject matter is from personal experiences or from things that I have read, other people's experiences, situations that sort of thing. I try to be a bit philosophical because so many songs, don't get me wrong there is a place for the romantic songs you left me baby or I love you baby the boy/girl stuff there's nothing wrong with that but it tends to get a bit old and I like to get away from ordinary things the more predictable things which is why I have always tried to keep the subject matter & the titles a bit different to your average song.
Like the song "I don't know" Ozzy told me that when he was in Black Sabbath that people tended to think of them as some kind of prophet or whatever & that they might know something about what's gonna happen with the world all because they were in a band called Black Sabbath [laughs]. But they were just a rock n roll band who got the name from a hammer horror film. When Ozzy told me that, it's what I wrote 'I don't know' about. "People look to me and say when is the final day". Don't ask me I don't know I'm just a rock n roll singer. But that was just one of the many personal experiences. Mr. Crowley was Ozzy's idea.
That's about Allister Crowley isn't it?
Yeah he was into the occult, darker things.
I would have thought that Ozzy would have wanted to stay away from the darker lyrics & that side of things especially after being in Black Sabbath. I guess the same can be said about the likes of Alice Cooper. You see them in interviews and both are dead against the occult and all that goes with it!
Yeah well that's right; it's only acting isn't it. It's only an image thing. It's like when that kid killed himself in America and they found the record on his turntable of "Suicide Solution", so what, he could have read a fuckin book and blown his brains out. What his parents didn't look at was "why is our eighteen year old kid drunk with a gun in his hand"? That's the big question not what records he is listening to. If that made people kill themselves then you'd see people blowing their brains out all around the world because they heard Suicide Solution. The song was just a warning about people drinking themselves to death, Ozzy specifically.
I'm really glad you brought that up, it's not like this is the only time this has happened in music history. The same thing has happened to Judas priest & more recently Marilyn Manson who people tried to blame for the Columbine shootings. Some people don't realize that the 2 kids involved in that went bowling first but somehow Manson was to blame. It's ridiculous. It's obvious to me that the individual would have to be a little fucked up in the first place to consider killing themselves or other people.
That's right, Of course it may help to throw them one way or the other but you know, you can read into anything you want, to read into any song, book or film if you're looking for it. It's like Charles Manson said The Beatles were sending him messages in the song helter skelter from the White album. It had fuck all to do with Charles Manson he just read into it what he wanted to read into it.
While we're on the subject of Suicide solution I'd like to know, when you first heard about the case, being the sole writer of the song with the exception of the first line, what was your reaction?
Well I thought it was a sad thing but the first thing that came to my mind was what's an eighteen year old kid doing with a gun at his house and why aren't his parents looking at that. Because I knew for sure that there was nothing negative in that song. There is nothing in it that tells people to commit suicide. If you look into it there's one line that says "don't you know what it's really about you think suicides the only way out".
You're being a fool you're drinking yourself to death wake up to yourself you know. That's what the song was about, I didn't really feel like oh dear what have I done, what did I write. Because I didn't feel any responsibility for that kids death at all. If I had written some negative demonic song that was trying to get into peoples minds I would have thought oh fuck what did I do? [Laughs] but it was nothing like that.
When you look at ultimate Heavy Metal albums, Blizzard of Ozz & Diary of a Madman are right up there, I don't know one person who has not owned one of these two albums at some point of their life.
That's one thing I feel really proud of; it's great that that music got recognised like that.
I personally believe that both albums are Ozzy's best stuff closely followed by No More Tears. But on those two albums in particular you spent a lot of time with Randy Rhoads writing & recording. If there is one person I would love to know more about its Randy. Can you tell us what it was like working with Randy during that time & what he was like to hang out with?
I first met Randy in Jet Records office in London in 1979. What happened was I met Ozzy in a club in London one night. There was a band on called "Girl" and I went to see them with a mate of mine because I knew they were signed to Jet records. I'd been with Jet records while I was in Widowmaker & I was out of Rainbow looking for something to do & I thought if I go along to see Girl tonight at least I'll know people there from Jet records. Ozzy was signed to Jet records, he'd been signed with Black Sabbath & then Black Sabbath fired him but Jet records kept Ozzy and not Sabbath.
So anyway one of the Jet records blokes introduced me to Ozzy, and Ozzy said "I want to put a band together, I've heard good things about you I know you've come from Rainbow would you be interested?". I said yeah certainly.
Ozzy & I got on great, a couple of days later I got a phone call from Jet records asking me to go up to Ozzy's place. At the time Ozzy was living in Stafford, he came to the station to meet me, picked me up in his car & we drove back to his house & he had a couple of mates there just local musician's, we had a bit of a play and Ozzy & I got on really well together.
Ozzy phoned Arthur Sharpe from Jet records, he was the one who introduced us & I still remember Ozzy's words "Oh yeah Bob & I get on like a house on fire, the fire brigades just left". I had said to Ozzy if you want to get really serious about this & you want it to be world class I don't think those other two guys are world class. They're ok, they're nice blokes & they play ok but I don't think it'll work out. Ozzy said hang on a minute, he had this rehearsal room at the side of his house and he walked into where they were and said "hey fellas it's not working out pack up you can go home" [laughs] just like that.
He came up to me and he said I know this great guitar player in L.A. his name's Randy Rhoads, he said he's a guitar teacher. When he said he was a guitar teacher I had envisioned this older guy with a pipe and wearing slippers & an old dressing gown on [laughs] teaching kids to play.
They flew Randy over to London, I went into Jet records & met Randy, I think he was 22 then & we went up on a train to Ozzy's house in Stafford. One thing that still sticks in my mind from then was we had a bit of a play together and we knew something was happening it was gelling. Randy & I looked at each other right at the same time & said to each other "Oh I like the way you play". We started putting ideas together, there weren't any lyrics & Ozzy was just sort of singing tunes over the top of what we were comin up with musically. We started auditioning drummers as we were writing the stuff as well so we were trying to get things happening while we had drummers sit in with us & some of them were good they just weren't right.
We would go to rehearsal places, they were live-in places where you could rehearse day & night if you wanted to and you could live there. I remember staying at one of the places and it was called 'Transam Trucking' and I came down the next morning and Ozzy & Randy were there & they had some words put together for one of the songs on the first album. I can't remember what song it was they had spent ages on it & they had about four lines written. I read them and thought god these are fuckin awful, I better write the lyrics.
So I wore the lyricist hat only because Randy wasn't a lyricist & neither was Ozzy & I thought I don't want to be part of embarrassing lyrics [laughs]. So off we went & rehearsed, started putting lyrics together & right at the very end we had Lee Kerslake audition & he was the last drummer we had on the list & we thought lets hope he's good & if he didn't work out then the record company was saying "we need to get you in the studio to do the album, its getting later & later".
So if Lee didn't work out we probably would have gone into the studio with somebody like Cozy Powell, somebody who could have done a good enough session on the album.
But as soon as Lee started playing Randy & I looked at each other & thought "thank fuck, where's he been". Lee was drummer number thirty nine that we had auditioned, loads of them we auditioned. Each day we had 4 – 5 drummers come in.
Jet records would phone us up & say well we've got another list for ya so and so at two o'clock, someone else at three, some one else at four but Lee worked out great, he was perfect for the band he was just what we wanted.
Randy's mum owned a music school and Randy started playing at the age of five which is one the reasons he was so good at it. Having the classical background really helped with Randy's style of rock guitar playing. Most rock guitar players have had a rock or blues orientated background where Randy had a lot of classical stuff mixed in there, which helped with a lot of chord structures & unusual things for rock music. We used to call Randy 'Mal' it was short for malnutrition [laughs] he was really skinny, he had an athletic build & we used to call his girlfriend Jodie 'Anna' short for anorexia but they were both really nice and they really suited each other. Randy was a very gentle person he was never aggressive or loud. He was sarcastic at times and he would take the piss out of people with out them really knowing. Randy had a very dry sense of humour; he wasn't your typical pie in the face American. Sometimes we would go out to restaurants and I remember one time we were in Ridge farm in Surrey England, Randy, Lee Kerslake & I went down near Brighton on the coast & there was a model railway exhibition. Randy was into model trains & so was I so the three of us went down to see this railway exhibition. I think I've got photos of that with trains running in front of Randy [laughs].
The first time Randy & I ever went to Ozzy's house to play together I remember standing on Stafford station with randy and at this time nobody had a clue what was gonna happen with the band, how big it was going to be or if we were going to have any success at all. All of a sudden I had this thought that one day people were going to continuously ask me "what was Randy like"? "What was it like to play with Randy"? "What was he really like"? I didn't know at the time why I was having these thoughts. It must have been a premonition of things to come.
During the middle of the Diary of a Madman tour I believe Lee & yourself were fired?
No, it was only about 3 or 4 days after we finished recording the album. I'll go back to what the band was about, & that is the band was called Blizzard of Ozz, it wasn't called the Ozzy Osbourne band or just Ozzy Osbourne solo band it was a band called Blizzard of Ozz. Ozzy's father came up with the idea of it & Ozzy told us about it. We thought at least that sounds like a band, see the record company was saying to us "well just call the act Ozzy or The Ozzy Osbourne Band". We said fuck that, it doesn't sound like a band & we wanted something that sounded like a band. The record company has said "well on the first album we need to use the name Ozzy Osbourne". We all said we don't mind if you put the Blizzard of Ozz in big writing and underneath it "featuring Ozzy Osbourne" we don't mind that. We can utilize the fact that its Ozzy's voice & that he's come from Sabbath and all that so what did they do? They fucked us over. They put Ozzy Osbourne in big writing and in smaller writing the Blizzard of Ozz which made it look like an Ozzy Osbourne record called the Blizzard of Ozz. We thought you cunts.
So really it's an album with no name?
[Laughs] Well the first album was just supposed to be called 'Blizzard of Ozz' like Bad Company's first album was just called 'Bad Company' and Led Zeppelins first album was just called 'Led Zeppelin'. So when it came time to do the second album actually I came up with the title Diary of a Madman. I still remember where I was. I was walking up Holland Park Ave near Holland park where I lived in London with Ozzy & we were walkin up to the shops & I said "I've got a good name for the next album" & he said what's that I said Diary of a Madman. "Oh that's fuckin great I love that you come up with good things". So I came up with that title & obviously wrote all the words for all the songs on the album. See Sharon was on the scene then & Ozzy and Sharon were heavily involved with each other while he was married. The whole vibe of the band had changed; it wasn't like a band anymore.
Sharon was all "I'm gonna promote Ozzy. It's going to be Ozzy Osbourne, that's the name the act will be called. It was all Ozzy, Ozzy, Ozzy. I think she wanted to keep Randy & promote him as a separate entity as well and make it the Ozzy show but they didn't hint at anything until they got the album out of us written & recorded. Then about 2 – 3 days after we finished recording the album we thought well we'll be going to America soon to start the tour & I got a phone call from Sharon just saying "you and Lee are out" just like that, so I said wait a minute it's our band, "no not any more". What about our royalties? "End of story" she says and I said we'll see about that & I went to a lawyer and we sued them. We got money out of Jet Records & Don Arden, Sharon's father, it finally went to court in 1986 & we got a pay out. We thought our royalties would continue, but they didn't & that's why we had to sue them again later.
Speaking of that lawsuit; is it still going or is it over?
Well it's over for the minute unless new information comes up or something different happens. See we went to the Supreme Court in America and we got denied a trial. We went to the lawyers at the end of 97 in L.A. and our lawyers said "you've got a really good case here" & we should have won, the first three years the judge that was involved in the case was saying to us go for it. Every issue that came up she kept in (it was a female judge), and then out of the blue after three fuckin years we didn't have a case. This from the same judge who has been behind us all this time. So I don't know if money changed hands or if strings had been pulled or backs had been scratched, but it was right at the time that the Osbournes show became really big, right at the time that the Osbournes became richer than ever & more connected than ever all of a sudden we didn't have a case.
It's probably more Sharon than Ozzy. You know Sharon being the way she is & handling all the affairs.
Oh of course, Ozzy knows we were supposed to get royalties & so does Sharon. But Ozzy tends to hide behind her.
Yeah I'm sure he does, he would have grown accustomed to it over the years with all the trouble he has been in. But I know myself if I do any work I expect & want to be paid for it.
Of course. Its not like we're saying as an after thought wait, maybe we should get royalties out of this. It was from day one we had the agreement, contracts were drawn up & everything.
That brings me to the Living Loud project which you did last year with Lee Kerslake, Steve Morse, Don Airey & Jimmy Barnes. First of all congratulations on a job well done! Jimmy Barnes is the last person on earth that I ever expected to hear singing Ozzy osbourne songs.
Yeah well when his name was first suggested to me to do it I said nah, I don't think it would be right. I don't think he will suit the stuff. But July 2003 Lee & I flew into Florida & we meet up with Steve Morse at his house, within the first hour of playing together we thought wow this is sounding good, this could work. (Cause you know you can put names together but just because they're names it doesn't always gel). About two days later Jimmy flew in. He was in America doing something else & he came down & started singing the songs & I thought fuckin hell this is really good. I just want to clear up that we didn't do those Ozzy songs because of what they did to those records, they went into the studio & removed our performances because we were suing them for our royalties that were rightfully ours anyway & they ruined the product which is a dumb fuckin thing to do and what an insult to Randy and the record buying public.
I haven't actually heard the new re- recorded versions & from what I have heard I don't want to either.
Yeah I actually laughed out loud at some of it because its fuckin awful, I thought he must be kidding, is this done for a comedy act it's fuckin terrible. So anyway Lee & I have talked for probably about ten or twelve years about doing our own tribute to Randy & those songs because we figured if anyone had a right to do it we did because we played on the originals & we thought maybe we can get a few different guitar players & a couple of different keyboard players & some different singers to do different songs. But when it was suggested to me about doing this project with Steve Morse, Jimmy Barnes etc I had asked Gary Moore if he would do a couple of tracks & he said he would. I thought maybe we could get Dio on a couple, John Lord said he was going to play on a couple of tracks & Don Airey. It was supposed to be like a project but as soon as the four of us got in the room together Lee, Steve, Jimmy Barnes and myself I thought no other singers no other guitarists, this is it this is the band & as it turned out John Lord was still gonna play on a couple of tracks & share it with Don Airey but John became unavailable so he couldn't do it. We only had Don Airey which I think worked out better because the whole things got continuity and now it's a band.
Actually the name we wanted for the band was 'Living Out Loud' but we found out there was an acappella group down in Melbourne called Living Out Loud. Cause' we had several other names but we could never come up with a name that somebody hadn't fuckin used. Every name we had thought of had been used & with Living Out Loud we looked around & couldn't find anyone with it so great that's what we're gonna be called & then we found this acappella group called Living Out Loud [laughs] and the album was about to come out. We had to get the artwork together so we thought fuck it 'Living Loud'. I know Randy would be pleased that Steve Morse did these songs because he was a Steve Morse fan.
Will Living Loud be hitting the road this year?
Well there's talk about Living Loud doing some stuff in August, they're talking about shows here first then maybe a European tour. You can keep checking my website for more details as they come to hand.
Now, after you left Ozzy the first time you went on to record two albums 'Abominog' and 'Head First' with Uriah Heep. How would you compare your time with them to the past two, three years working with Ozzy?
Oh it was much more of a family situation. It really felt like a nice working situation, there were no bosses or leaders or big heads, anything like that. It was just a bunch of blokes having fun playing music together, serious about the music of course but it was just a lot more fun. I mean it was fun with Ozzy when we first started when it was just me Randy & Ozzy & then we got Lee. It was a good laugh & it was a bunch of blokes in a band together. What ruined it was the record company & then Sharon coming into it.
Actually with you bringing that up it makes me curious to know why you went back & continued to work with Ozzy?
Well that's a bit of a long story but I will give you a brief outline of what happened. In 82' when Lee & I got fired after the diary thing we were suing Don Arden & Jet records. Ozzy & Sharon had a big fall out with Jet records & Don Arden her father so they came to us & said "we will help you in your lawsuit against Jet records, we will confirm that you're supposed to get royalties" & they had meetings with our lawyers and so I thought oh good they are going to help us. In 1983 we used to go out for dinners etc, they were helping us but I didn't realize what scumbags they were because unbeknownst to us in 1983 they bought the rights to Ozzy's catalogue from Jet records. So they were receiving our royalties & they didn't even tell us [laughs] we were still suing Don Arden & Jet records so we ended up suing the wrong people but he did end up paying us out up to the point in time that he owned the catalogue. But after that they were getting our royalties and we didn't know, we didn't even find out until the nineties. They were being sly and deceitful by pretending to help us but at the same time in July 83 they bought Ozzy from Jet records & Don Arden. I've seen the contracts. People say "well why did you go back & work with them if you knew." But we didn't know they were getting our royalties. What we did know was that we beat Don Arden in court in 1986 & we got a payout & then we knew that he went bankrupt & he had no fuckin dough & we thought well where are our royalties going? Maybe he's stealing our royalties & he's paying off his bankruptcy fees. We didn't know that the Osbournes were getting them the whole time.
You don't talk at all now?
So we shouldn't expect to see your name in the credits of the next Ozzy Osbourne album?
Oh no, fuck I won't ever work with him again.
After recording & touring for a couple of years with 'Uriah Heep' you rejoined Ozzy for the 'Bark At the Moon' album & tour. Your first show back was playing to a crowd of 700,000 people at the US festival in May 1983. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Yeah well the figure varies. On the day they said 400,000 then I heard 500,000. It was roughly half a million people which is the size of Woodstock. That was very scary because I hadn't played those songs or worked with Ozzy for two years & he and Sharon had already had meetings with me about me coming in to do the 'Bark at the Moon' album, I said yeah I'll do it. Then all of a sudden I got a call from Ozzy saying "I don't want you to just do the album I want you to come back and join the band and we have got a gig next week". I thought fuckin hell that's being chucked in the deep end [laughs]. So I flew in to L.A got picked up, went straight to rehearsal from the airport & I was jet lagged and trying to do these songs. We had one rehearsal again the next day then the following day we played at the US festival. Playing for a sea of people that was the same size as Woodstock was very nerve racking.
In between working with Ozzy, up until the 'No more Tears album' you worked with many other talented hard rock and heavy metal icons such as Gary Moore, Black Sabbath, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai to name a few. Do you think that working with such acts as these has helped you to develop the techniques that you are using today?
hmmm not really I don't think so. I've always had my own thoughts of what I wanted to do & my own personal influences on music & musicians etc. Most of the people I've played with really haven't had a lot to do with how I play or how it turns out.
Working on Yngwie Malmsteen's Odyssey album must have been a challenge. I mean it's totally different to the stuff you were doing up to that point.
Yeah I remember I was at the end of a Gary Moore U.S. tour in 1987. We had been on the road for about 6-7 weeks I had hooked up with this producer that I had worked with while playing with Gary called Jeff Glixman. He was producing the Yngwie album & he said to me "I might get you some tracks on the Yngwie album". While I was in L.A I also did a few tracks on Bill Ward's album which was fun; he's a nice bloke Billy Ward.
Is that the album that featured George Harrison too?
Oh no you're thinking of the Gary Moore album Still Got the Blues, George wrote a track for the album & played rhythm guitar on it.
That featured you on bass for that track too? How amazing was it to record with one of the Beatles?
You know that's one thing I sometimes forget about. You do certain things & you go from one to the other & you're kind of caught in the eye of the hurricane. You're in the middle of it without thinking too much about it but then sometimes I think to myself, wait a minute, I'm on a track with George Harrison as well.
That would be an awesome feeling knowing you recorded a track with a Beatle, it would be like fuck it the world can end tomorrow I've worked with a Beatle!
[Laughs] Its one of the ultimate things to do is be on a track with any Beatle.
You were touring with Gary when he first went back to Ireland after a ten year absence, how was that experience?
They were the first shows I ever did with Gary at the end of 1984 early 85. I wasn't actually in the band. I had done an album or some tracks on an album with Gary in 84 on Victims of the Future, then he needed a bass player and I was still working with Ozzy but I had some time off. I had about 14 songs to learn & rehearse in a week and I did the show. We did one show at the Marquee in London & then we went to Ireland the next day & it was filmed for his video Emerald Isles. That was pretty nerve racking to do all those songs and know you're being filmed. You can't afford to fuck up. I can't remember where it was there was one in Dublin & one in Belfast and they filmed those shows. At the end of the Belfast one Gary said "you did great, if you're ever not with Ozzy or if you have a fallout & you're looking for something, come to me & your in my band" and it happened the next year. I was writing for the Ultimate Sin with Ozzy & at the time I had a major falling out with him so I left and joined Gary.
Last year you recorded some tracks on Gary Moore's "Power of the Blues" album. I guess after all these years you have become really good friends.
Yes, I did that whole album. I like that album 'Power of the Blues'. Even when I didn't work with Gary for ten years and whenever I went back to England I would always give him a call & we'd hook up & have a dinner together or go around to his house. Gary & I have always had a simular sense of humour and we always have a really good laugh together. Gary is very quick witted, quite often if there's a room full of people he'll say something & I'm the only one who gets it [laughs] and vice versa I might say something and I can always rely on Gary to get it.
Can you tell us what caused the cancellation of Gary's tour last year?
Yeah we had festivals to do throughout the European summer, of which we played about 3 or 4 shows before Gary injured his finger and the fluid inside got infected. Gary was given antibiotics which didn't work so he was taken to hospital and put on an antibiotic drip. Eventually that did the job. Later in the year we were meant to be doing a British tour of England, Scotland, Wales & Ireland but they needed to lock in contracts & do promotion ahead of the tour dates. Gary's finger hadn't healed in time so it all got cancelled.
You have done a lot of work with Eric Singer as well. Do you guys keep in touch?
Oh yeah we swap emails from time to time & he usually calls me when he's coming to Australia. I went to see him when he was out here playing with Kiss back in 2001. Yeah he's a nice bloke Eric. I first met Eric when we did a Black Sabbath album together "The Eternal Idol" back in 1986.
That was probably the first time I had ever heard of the guy.
That was the first time I'd ever heard of him as well [laughs]
Eric had gone on to work with Gary Moore as well?
Yeah I got him that gig with Gary, well I mean I didn't get him the gig I suggested him to Gary, it was him who got the gig because he was good enough for it, you know I put him up for it because I knew that Gary would like him & he did.
I'd like to ask you about the 'No More Tears' album. You're credited on the album for playing bass & so is Mike Inez. You never wrote any song for the album, I'm just curious to what songs you did play on?
I played on all of them. Mike Inez didn't play a note on any of it. I wrote a lot of lyrics for all the songs & then Sharon didn't want to pay me & then they didn't want to use them. I think they got ideas from lyrics I had written. I can't remember if it was on the album cover or if it was in an interview where they say lyrical inspiration came from me, but yeah I'd written all the fuckin lyrics for all the songs & then they said that they didn't want to use them because they didn't want to pay. Just like on the Black Sabbath album "The Eternal Idol" it says Dave Spitz and myself. Dave was a bass player that Black Sabbath had at the time. But Dave didn't play a note on that album.
That's a rockin Sabbath album what was Tony Iommi like to work with?
Yeah I think it's a great album, Tony Iommi played great on that album & so did Eric Singer. Tony was great; I got on with Tony really well. They wanted me to join the band because we worked well together & I remember him saying at the time I haven't had this rapport with writing with somebody since Geezer. We kept in contact for a while & swapped Xmas cards, I'd phone him once in a while but I haven't spoken to him in years.
Out of all the albums that you've played on & that's one big list [laughs] what would be your favourites to listen too?
Well I don't know if it's maybe because its one of the freshest ones but the living loud I particularly like, I had a big say in how it sounded & how it went, co-produced the album I really like that one. I suppose Blizzard of Ozz has a bit of nostalgia for me. It's a long time ago what 25 years now but when I put that on it just reminds me of good times, good creative times, working with Randy, fun with Ozzy & then getting Lee in the band. It just reminds me of all the good times [laughs]. You know, there's lots of albums, but those two stand out and there's one album, the Kahvas Jute album that's really special. Even my daughters, (one of my daughters is twenty & the other is twenty five) but when they were teenagers listening to all other sorts of music they would put Kahvas Jute on & they'd say "dad, this is the best thing you've ever done". Out of all the other albums I ever did that's their favourite.
What sort of music are your daughters listening to now & what do they think about having a rock star dad?
My youngest daughter listens to rock stuff like Jet, Black Leather Motorcycle Club and she's a big fan of Led Zeppelin, Hendrix and The Beatles. She's a major Beatles fan. They both like a lot of the English bands. My eldest daughter loves Hendrix. I think when they were younger I used to jokingly say to them hey you don't know how cool a dad you have. They would give you that look and say Ahh! "We listen to pump up the jam & chart music" which was their music for that time & they didn't realize what dad had done because they didn't really know much about my whole musical history but they know much more about it now. They see the website & the letters that fans write in & they think it's a bit weird sometimes when they see other people saying stuff about their dad [laughs].
Out of all the newer hard rock/metal bands is there anyone that you are listening to?
I think Jet is pretty good & there was a band in England that was quite good. I think they've broken up now, called Kula Shaker. I don't know; I think there was a really magical time in the 60s & 70s that didn't seem to happen again you know. Where's the Jimi Hendrix of today?
Well you can even look at bands like Metallica & their last album St Anger where they decided not to record any solos!
I know yeah, Metallica are a good band & they served a purpose of that type of stuff, which was kind of a new music even though it was definitive of other older rock stuff but it was still a new music as much of the way that they did it & that's great. They were a good band. There are lots of those sorts of bands that are around that are certainly valid. I like bands like Led Zeppelin because they were blues based & blues doesn't seem to age. I was actually at a friends house the other day he's only in his thirties and he was playing Led Zeppelin 1 & I said 'do you realize in three more years that album is gonna be forty years old?' [Laughs] so he was probably one or two when the album was released & here he is playing it now & I said fuck it still holds up. It could have been released yesterday. Hendrix stuff too, it still sounds fresh today.
Well that's right you can turn on many of the mainstream radio stations across the world and you will still hear Hendrix & Zeppelin being played, On the other hand take a band like Iron Maiden for example, another great band but they never get the airplay they deserve.
Well that's right. That's one thing I'm really pleased about with the albums 'Blizzard of Ozz' & 'Diary of a Madman'. Because they have become milestones in rock history they will probably have airplay forever. Well for as long as rock is being played they will be played.
What advice do you have for up and coming bands?
Be dedicated. Give it 100%. Practice all the time, practice along with records & all different types of music to get the different feels & different styles. During the 60's & 70's people tended to think that it was cool to be out of it by getting stoned & taking drugs etc. I don't go along with that cause quite often it can sound good while you're on drugs but then you listen to it the next day & realise its not very good after all. I'm not saying be straight, I'm saying have fun, party, get pissed but don't let the music suffer.
The one thing I will advise anybody & everybody is not to smoke. It kills so many people & it's presented as being either cool or tough or glamorous. Go to a fucking lung cancer ward & you will soon see that it's not all that cool or glamorous. Not everyone will die from it but the ones who don't die usually end up suffering later on in life with emphysema & blockages etc. I went to the hospital one day to visit my mum and there was this woman sitting in a wheelchair. She would have been in her mid forties I guess & she had no legs & I asked the nurse 'what happened to her, has she been in a car crash?' and it turns out she had both legs amputated because she was a smoker. I didn't know that you could lose limbs from smoking. All thanks to the tobacco industry.
Who is the one person you have always wanted to work with but have never had a chance to?
Jeff Beck. I love Jeff Beck's playing. I used to call him Jeff Best [laughs].
You've never thought of picking up the phone and trying to organise something?
I have met him & we chatted but there has never been a situation where the both of us could work together, I'd love to though. He's a brilliant player he's one of the best ever.
You have been playing now for almost 40 years, what would you say have been your greatest achievements to date?
Just look at the list of people I have had the privilege of playing with & the list of albums that I've had the privilege of being on. Although I've been part of them myself as far as writing, producing and playing on them, I still feel privileged that my career has gone as well as it has, because there have been major players that haven't done half the stuff that I have.
Do you have any idea what the figures are for each album sold?
No not really. They would never tell us. I would imagine at least 10 million each album, probably even more than that.
In a few words what comes to mind when I mention the following songs/albums?
LONG LIVE ROCK N ROLL: I suppose looking back now I can see what they meant & what the purpose of having that title was. But at the time back in 1977 when we did that album I kind of thought the idea of it was a little bit corny. I can see why it was called that now. It is basically rock n roll even though there were bands around like Deep Purple & Black Sabbath but its still rock n roll.
THAT'S THE WAY THAT IT IS: Uriah Heep. That wasn't one of our songs, I think it was a song by Paul Bliss, it's a good song. The version we did I liked and that song represents the frustration of Uriah Heep for me because I thought that that band at that time could have done so much better than they did. That song got into the top 40 in America but the record company didn't follow it up and they should have promoted the shit out of it. I remember getting a phone call from Ozzy when I was still living in London & he was living in L.A. & the Uriah Heep album "Abominog" had just been released. Ozzy phoned me raving about it. He said "This is a fuckin great album, I love it. I'm gonna get a sandwich board made & walk up & down Sunset boulevard telling people to buy it cause its fuckin great". It sold some and it was more of a frustration. It was a good band & a nice working situation. They were good guys & it should have gone further than it did.
CRAZY TRAIN: Well crazy train was my title. Randy had this effect on his pedal board & I use to say it sounds like a train & Ozzy had this saying "you're going off the fuckin rails; you're off the rails man". Off the rails used to mean you're off the wall you're cuckoo & that's pretty well how I came up with the title. But I wanted to be philosophical about the song so it was 1979 when we started writing that song, 1980 by the time I had finished the lyrics & there were things going on around the world at that time. The Berlin Wall was still up, the Cold War between Russia & America was still going & it was a frightening situation. That's why those lines were in the song "Heirs of a cold war, Inheriting trouble we're mentally numb" it was driving all the young people nuts thinking that the fuckin big one could start tomorrow between America & Russia "Millions of people living as foes" that's crazy why do you need that shit.
MIRACLE MAN: It might have been John Sinclair who came up with the Miracle Man theme. Miracle Man was written about a headline at the time where this bloke who was one of those preacher bible types called Jimmy Swaggert was busted in a motel with a hooker [laughs] so we called him Miracle Man & I wrote the song about him being the 'Miracle Man'. I think I had little Jimmy Swaggert in the song & Ozzy changed it to little Jimmy Sinner cause he didn't want to mention his name. You know I don't mind that he was in a hotel with a hooker but just don't fuckin preach to everybody else that they're going to hell if they do it!
AFTER THE WAR: Well Gary always had a real connection being from Ireland with what's going on there all the political issues & wars between the North & South of Ireland & the British and what have you. A lot of the songs that Gary did like, 'Out in the Fields' & 'Wild Frontier', they were all Irish flavoured and war connected songs & other songs like Johnny Boy & sad songs like that are really about Phil Lynott, because when Phil died, that really cut Gary up.
If you could put a band together consisting of musicians passed on or present who would they be & what would you call the band?
I'd have Brian Jones rhythm guitar/harmonia, Jeff Beck guitar, John Bonham on drums and Paul Rodgers vocals from around the 'Free' era. I would call it 'The Free Rolling Led Birds' [laughs].
Lastly Bob thanks again for arranging to meet me today it's been a total pleasure to meet you & listen to some of these great stories you have shared & learn more about some of my all time favourite songs. Do you have any last words you have for our readers?
I just hope they get to really know the truth about what happened with the music & things I've gone through over the years because anybody can say anything they like in interviews & Im not mentioning anybody in particular but anybody really can do that. There's been so many lies told over the years & I'd like eventually to see the truth especially about the Blizzard & Diary records & what happened and who did what and who wrote what etc. But I suppose at the end of the day it doesn't matter that much as long as people enjoy the music. I know fans like to know the truth & what really went on and I hope some of this interview has helped them with some of that.
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© April 2005 Cameron Edney all rights reserved.
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