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Former Ozzy Bassist Has An Axe To Grind With The Osbournes

Written by: Marshall Ward


To commemorate the 30th anniversary of Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman, two of the most revered rock and roll albums of all time, Ozzy Osbourne recently released remastered issues of both, along with a box set featuring previously unreleased live recordings, bonus material and a coffee table book.

The reissues give fans many reasons to celebrate, including the return of Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake to their rightful place – on bass and drums, respectively.  The rumbling rhythm section originally provided by Daisley and Kerslake was erased from the 2002 reissues (replaced note-for-note by different musicians) due to bitter disputes over songwriting credits and unpaid royalties. The Osbourne camp was much criticized for this historical revisionism, and thankfully Daisley and Kerslake are back where they belong –  and sounding amazing –  on the new box set.

Daisley, a veteran of the U.K. bands Rainbow, Mungo Jerry and Chicken Shack, is currently in the final stages of writing his memoir, cheekily titled For Facts Sake! In an exclusive interview with Rock Cellar Magazine, Daisley speaks publicly for the first time about the 30th anniversary box set, while shedding light on the creative process behind Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman.

Bob Daisley with his soon-to-be-released custom signature “Black Beauty” bass, by Utopia Custom Shop; Italy. Photo by Alessio Scaccabarozzi

Rock Cellar Magazine: When did you first hear of the 2011 re-issues and anniversary box set?

Bob Daisley: There’d been talk about it during 2010, and it was then that I offered to supply tapes of our rehearsals and writing sessions, to go as proper bonus material. And I just said that I wanted a royalty out of it, because it’s my stuff.  But they wouldn’t do it because they didn’t want to give me a royalty – they just wanted to buy it.

So no agreement was made, and as a result the bonus material in the box set is minimal, which is unfortunate because I know the fans want to hear the stuff that I’ve got – recordings of the writing sessions, rehearsals and the songs taking shape.  But the Osbournes wouldn’t come to the table, y’know.  I didn’t even ask for an equal royalty, it was just a small royalty I wanted because it’s my stuff.  So I said, “I’ve been fucked over enough by you cunts.”  I didn’t pitch it quite like that, but you know what I mean..!

RCM: How much raw material do you have from those sessions?

BD: Literally hours and hours of tapes I’ve got from us writing those albums and rehearsing it. You can hear the songs changing, the different parts taking shape, and all this stuff would have been perfect bonus material for the box set. Sadly, the Osbournes are just too greedy and self-absorbed.

RCM: Why did you record the writing process of those albums so extensively?

BD:  It was for reference, because I never wanted to make the mistake of losing something along the way that we were writing. And I was the only one who recorded that stuff.  I never wanted to take a chance and say, “Oh yeah, we’ll remember that tomorrow and pick up where we left off.” Because you can make that mistake, where everything you were working on is gone, so that’s why I recorded everything so we knew exactly what we did yesterday, where we were at, and take it from there.

Recording those sessions, it certainly wasn’t out of any foresight on my part, thinking this would be worth something someday, or that maybe someday this might make for some great bonus material.  Because nobody knew back then how well those albums would be received. So really, recording those sessions was simply out of what I thought was necessity.

Bob Daisley & Lee Kerslake Recording “Blizzard of Ozz” 1980. (Photo courtesy of Bob Daisley)

RCM: What are your thoughts on the anniversary box set, the bonus material that was included, along with the coffee table book?

BD:  I think the bonus material is very poor, and it has nothing to do with the real band. They’ve got photos in there with Tommy Aldridge and Rudy Sarzo who didn’t play a beat or note on those two albums.  And yet, there’s not one photograph or a mention of Lee and me in it, in that big coffee table book.  I also have lots of photographs that would have been great to include.  So in the end, it just makes the fans lose out, and I think it was very selfish of the Osbournes to do that.

RCM: Do you think fans will ever have an opportunity to hear the material you own from those sessions?

BD: I don’t know.  I’m looking at ways to do that, and I hope to find a way.

Bob Daisley recording “Blizzard of Ozz.” 1980. (Photo by Finn Costello, courtesy of Bob Daisley)

RCM:  In recent months, there have been several magazine articles written about the re-issues and anniversary box set.  In the July 2011 issue of Guitar World, Sharon Osbourne is quoted: “Kerslake and Daisley stuck together in the band because they were the last two in, so to speak…they were session guys who could come and go.” Is this accurate?

BD:  No. It’s ridiculous for her to say we were, “the last two in, so to speak.” Ozzy and I started the band, and when we did, he hadn’t even mentioned Randy Rhoads yet.   I’ve kept diaries since the beginning of 1976, so I’ve got every single event and date, and who did what, written down.

This is what happened:  Ozzy came back to England after being fired from Black Sabbath, and he had seen Randy Rhoads in L.A., but they didn’t get a band together before he came back to England.  David and Don Arden, Sharon’s brother and father, were managing Ozzy and were going to manage the new band.  I went up to Ozzy’s house after we met and it was there that we started the band. Ozzy had two other players and I said to him, “These guys ain’t world class,” so he got rid of them.

That’s where and when he told me about Randy – this kid he met in L.A.  David Arden didn’t want to fly Randy over and said that nobody’s heard of him – he’s an unknown. But eventually he agreed and said, “This is against my better judgment flying Randy over.” And then the band was Randy, Ozzy and me, and that’s how the band was started.  We then auditioned loads of drummers and finally got Lee at the end.  Sharon’s full of shit.

Bob Daisley, Randy Rhoads recording “Blizzard of Ozz” 1980. (Photo courtesy of Bob Daisley)

RCM: What role did Sharon play when the band was started?

BD: She wasn’t even there! It was David and Don Arden managing the band, and she didn’t even come in or have anything to do with it until after that first album was recorded and the band was formed.  Everything had been written and recorded for Blizzard of Ozz, and only then did she come in and get involved because David Arden had become a father and his day-to-day management of the band had taken a bit of a back seat.  So Sharon took over.

But, oh, she talks about how it was so wonderful being there for those first two albums. Really?  She wasn’t even there for the first one, and had fuck all to do with it.

RCM:  What was it like putting that band together, as you all had varying levels of experience?

BD:  We all connected, and I think it was destined to happen, the four of us coming together. You know, it’s funny, because sometimes it feels like it was yesterday and other times it feels like it was another lifetime.

I first met Randy in November ’79, and I find that when people do something amazing for a short period of time – like Randy did – and then they’re gone, it can seem like it was just a dream. That time in my life does seem unreal, in a sense.  Randy didn’t get much recognition before he hooked up with the Blizzard of Ozz. And that was the biggest thing we all did, really. Lee Kerslake was quite well known as the drummer of Uriah Heep, and Ozzy was well known for being the singer of Sabbath. I was partly known, I suppose, for my early days with Chicken Shack and then Widowmaker, and Rainbow. But Randy was relatively unknown, and once those first two albums hit, he was only around for a year and a half, then he was gone.

(Photo by Alan Perry, courtesy of www.concertphotos.uk.com and Bob Daisley)

RCM: Can you shed some light on the creative process for Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman, along with your role as the lyricist?

BD:  A lot of the songs were instigated by Randy, and then mostly he and I would sit on chairs opposite to one another and work out parts for the overall song.  Randy wrote a good portion of the music, but he didn’t do it by himself – it was both of us working together.  Obviously, the vocal melodies came from Ozzy, but the instrumentation came from Randy and me first.  Ozzy would sing a melody over what we had, and because Ozzy – for the most part – is not a lyricist, he would usually sing just nonsensical lyrics, just anything that came into his head. Sometimes the lines he came up with or little phrases would inspire me to write a particular lyric, but I wrote more than 90% of the lyrics for all those songs.

In fairness to Ozzy, some of my lyrics were instigated by a lot of his melodies and some of his nonsensical lines, and that was part of our process. I would write the lyrics last because the music would create a mood to sort of lend itself to what I was going to write about. Everything had been written for Blizzard of Ozz before Lee came in, but then even Lee came in on the music when we were writing for Diary of a Madman, along with some of the vocal melodies. But I co-wrote the music and all the lyrics for those albums.

(Photo by Alan Perry, courtesy of www.concertphotos.uk.com and Bob Daisley)

RCM: Those lyrics have stood the test of time as Crazy Train, I Don’t Know, Flying High Again, Mr. Crowley, Believer, Goodbye to Romance, and Suicide Solution have remained staples in Ozzy’s live setlist.

BD:  Oh yeah, well, the direction, imagery, and the whole musical statement of those albums were obviously shaped by the lyrics. It’s one thing to have great music, but if you’ve got shit lyrics with it that just don’t present the right message or right image, then it means nothing.

I’ve never been one to write in very common themes which is, “I love you baby,” or “Don’t leave me baby,” y’know, because it’s been done to death. There’s nothing wrong with that, because there’s still a place for those kinds of lyrics, but I wanted my lyrics to be a little out of the ordinary, and not cliché or predictable. So I wrote about things that were a bit unusual.  And I had to keep in mind Ozzy’s background, where he came from in Sabbath, plus my interests have always been in heavy music and the bluesier stuff.

RCM: During the recording process of Blizzard of Ozz, did you have a sense that you were creating something that was going to be a hit?

BD:  During the recording process, we’d be listening back to a tape and begin to think, “Well, there’s something special about this.”  I think we knew that we had something unique because Randy’s playing was influenced by a lot of classical stuff but he still had the real rock background that gave it a different dimension and quality.  Early on, we realised our band had a lot of ingredients – Randy’s classical influence, Ozzy’s voice was distinct and didn’t sound like anyone else, and lyrics that when you compare them to other music at that time, were really quite unusual.

We were doing what we loved. And it was from the heart, rather than concerning ourselves with what was in vogue, or thinking about what was going to sell. What’s going to get airplay? What’s going to make us famous? What’s going to make money? We weren’t thinking about any of that. We just wanted to do what we were good at.

RCM: But you couldn’t have imagined those albums would become two of the most revered rock albums of all time?

BD:  At the time, it was difficult to see the mountain that we were standing on.  But after a while, as time passed, we got to view it from a distance.  And I think looking back, it becomes more fascinating to the people who were involved, including myself.  I can see how the music has stood the test of time and I think part of that is because we were four guys who did what we wanted to do.

We were doing what we loved. And it was from the heart, rather than concerning ourselves with what was in vogue, or thinking about what was going to sell. What’s going to get airplay? What’s going to make us famous? What’s going to make money? We weren’t thinking about any of that. We just wanted to do what we were good at.

This was 1980, and what was in vogue was punk, new wave, and disco music. I suppose from some people’s point of view, what we were doing was considered a bit dinosaur at the time, because it was heavy rock. But that’s what flowed from us at that time – it was unpretentious, and it came from the heart.  And I believe that’s why it has endured and remained so popular. Obviously the quality of the songs and playing had to be there too.

RCM: When recording those albums, it sounds like you were a band essentially playing live together in the studio?

BD: We were all in the same room together – it captured a moment that only happened once.  It’s not like how it’s done nowadays where somebody will get a drum track and them somebody will build on it, then you’ve got Pro Tools or Soundscape to chop things up, repair and edit.


Randy Rhoads’ “Lost Solo” (Out-take from the “Blizzard of Ozz” sessions)

This was the three of us playing together with Ozzy doing a guide vocal which he would replace later with his real vocals. We’d essentially get in the studio, play a track from beginning to end and record it. So what you’re hearing is a band playing together in one room, and then Randy’s solos would be overdubbed, along with final vocals, vocal harmonies and keyboard. But the basis – the meat and potatoes – the nucleus of each song was just a band playing live in the studio.

We made eye contact, we fed off each other’s vibes, and had great rapport between us. That’s why it was such a dumb decision to remove our tracks in the first place on those previous reissues. It was also very insulting to the memory of Randy Rhoads because his playing sounds different on those (2002 re-issued) records because he’s with other people and never had a say in that.

The Osbournes just took Lee and me off and took away the chemistry between us. You can’t do that and still have a good product, because there are vibrations, if you like, on those albums. It’s not just instruments that get recorded when a record is made, because with electrical equipment, there is also feelings and emotions which are electrical impulses being recorded as well. And to change that, you change the feel of everything.

It’s a bit sad, really, because Ozzy and I got on quite well together, and I liked him a lot. But to be treated like that is just unfair, and it’s not nice, y’know? He’s lived off the strength of those two albums and built a career on it, and those albums put him on the map. You know, when he came out of Sabbath, he was almost considered to be without credibility because he got fired for being non-productive, drunk and lazy. He had to surround himself with people who were going to be professional and productive, and that’s how the Blizzard of Ozz came together.

Ozzy & Bob at Ridge Farm Studio; 1980 (Photo by Finn Costello, courtesy of Bob Daisley)

RCM: Fortunately, the fans can now hear Lee’s and your original bass and drum tracks on the 30th anniversary re-issues of those albums, even if the box set leaves a lot to be desired.

BD: Yes, that’s true. It’s still a shame though because it could have been so much more. The fans are the people who are most important, because they’re the ones who buy the music and support the artist.  It’s obscene what the Osbournes have done along the way to the fans over the years, removing our tracks, and now this time leaving our image out of the big coffee table book.  It’s bogus and insulting to the fans.


Ozzy Osbourne listening for the first time to the same Randy Rhoads out-take solo.

That’s why I’m so grateful to the fans who I hear from, time and again, they tell me how they grew up listening to those songs, or how those songs helped them when they were going through this and that. I’ll get fans who leave messages on my website (www.bobdaisley.com) telling me what the music has meant to them over the years, especially the lyrics, but the music as well. Randy was a brilliant musician and we did some great work together.  People will write to say how inspiring those albums were, or how they began playing guitar because of Randy or bass because of me, and that’s a really good feeling.

I really appreciate the fans acknowledging me in that way, because we were a real band. Those albums were made by the four of us. It happened 30 years ago, it took four people, and we did it together.

RCM: Speaking of legendary four-member bands, what are your thoughts on the recently announced Black Sabbath reunion album and tour?

BD: I just hope that ‘the other three’ get a fair deal. Let’s not forget who’s involved.

~*~*~*~

3 Responses to Former Ozzy Bassist Has An Axe To Grind With The Osbournes

  1. Pingback: Randy Rhoads: 30 Years Later His Music Lives On « The Ticket Depot

  2. Pingback: Ozzy Osbourne’s Former Bassist Bob Daisley Gives His Side of Reissues Story | Art Soul | The Latest News about Art, Music, Design and World!

  3. Pingback: Randy Rhoads: 30 Years Later His Music Lives On | Rock Cellar Magazine

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