By Steve Newton
Thirty years ago tomorrow–on March 23, 1984–Ozzy Osbourne played Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum on a bill with guests Motley Crue and Waysted. The Ozzman was touring behind his third solo album, Bark at the Moon, which introduced primo guitarist Jake E. Lee to the hard-rock world. (By the way, Lee’s current band, Red Dragon Cartel, plays Seattle this June if anyone’s in the neighbourhood.)
Looking back, that week in March of ’84 was a pretty loud one for yours truly, as two days earlier I’d traveled Stateside to see das Scorpions test the rafters of the Seattle Coliseum. Talk about ’80s hard-rock heaven. Party on Wayne! Party on Garth! Party on Newt!
Anyway, the week before Ozzy’s Vancouver gig he called me from Minneapolis, and was quick to downplay the aura of craziness that surrounded him at the time, what with the infamous bat-biting and all. Having had his first child with wife Sharon six months earlier might have toned him down a tad.
I understand you got hurt making a video recently?
Yeah, it was an accident. Some guy smashed a mirror in front of me for effect, and a slice of glass punctured my throat. But I’m okay now.
I read somewhere that you had a bit of a problem getting Bark at the Moon to sound the way you wanted it to.
We had a lot of problems. When we were making the album just about everybody’s wives were due to have babies at the same time. Personal sort of hassles kept on putting it off, and then in the end I wasn’t really sure whether it was what i was looking for or not. But it’s turned out okay, and the tour is doing as well as the last tour, so we can’t really complain.
Why did you replace drummer Tommy Aldridge with Carmine Appice for the drums on Bark at the Moon?
Well, his wife had twins and he was really screwed up about a lot of things. He was about 3,000 miles away from home, and he wasn’t really concentrating, and I thought he needed a break.
And he’s back with you now?
Where did Carmine Appice go?
I don’t know. I think he went home.
You say in the latest issue of Hit Parader that you like American guitarists more than British ones.
Well, the American and Canadian guitar players are far better. There’s a different breed of guitar player out here now. The rock syndrome in England is nowhere as popular as it is in America now. It’s there, but to get someone who’s any good you’ve got to search all over the place. Whereas in America you can pick them up virtually anywhere.
You recorded Bark at the Moon at the same studio album as your previous two albums. Did you feel the presence or memory of Randy Rhoads there?
Very much so. To the point where I realize I can’t ever go back. The vibe we had once in that studio is no longer there, you know. So I’ve got to find a new place.
If Randy hadn’t died when he did, what do you–as a close friend–guess he’d be doing right now?
I suppose he’d have his own band.
I was wondering about the live Rhoads tapes. When I talked to you in the summer of 1982 you were saying that you might release them as the live album, but there was none of his playing on Speak of the Devil. Do you have any plans for releasing the tapes?
Not yet. Not for a while, because I don’t think it’s right that I should do that yet. When I feel it’s time to do that I will. Part of it’s recorded in Canada, by the way. [Newt note: the live Tribute double-album, featuring Randy Rhoads’ amazing guitarwork, was released on March 19, 1987, five years to the day after his bizarre death.]
On the last tour you got a little crazy with biting the heads off animals…
…what’s on the menu this time around?
Nothing like that. Just a rock and roll show.
What is your new stage show like?
It’s like the inside of a big old house. It’s got a big stairway into kind of a “Psycho” house or something.
In Hit Parader you called it “the sickest show around”.
No! Who said it’s the sickest show around?
You did. In Hit Parader.
No I never. I don’t know where they get this junk from. I didn’t say it was the sickest show around. Some people might think so, but I don’t.
On your first album cover you portrayed a sort of demonic priest, on our second you were a bloodied madman, and on the latest one you’re a howling werewolf. Any ideas for the fourth studio album cover?
I haven’t got the faintest.
I haven’t got a clue. [Newt note: on his next album, 1986’s The Ultimate Sin, Ozzy actually outdid himself–or a hired artist did, anyway. He was portrayed in a painting as a powerful winged man-serpent hissing with forked-tongue at whoever looks his way–or at the wicked butt of the witchy chick standing in front of him.]
Are you a horror-movie freak?
I like watching the old horror films, yeah. I think the all-time one for me is The Exorcist. It was the one film that really turned my head with its intensity. But I also like watching war movies, so I may turn up on the next cover as a Colonel. [Newt note: yeah right.]
What do you honestly think is the ultimate effect your music and concerts have on the teenage fans that worship you?
Oh, I don’t know. It’s like anybody who plays rock and roll. If you like it you buy it, if you don’t you don’t. I don’t go out there to be a champion for satanists or anything; I just go out there to give them my version of my music. And if they like it, great. And if they don’t, then I’ll try until they do like it.
I mean, people get this impression that I’m some sort of a warlock that wants to go around changing people into satanists. Those aren’t my intentions at all.
How has married life affected you?
It’s great. I mean, my wife’s just got pregnant again. We’ve been married two years and had two kids.
Has it changed your lifestyle much?
Not at all. I’m just more in love with her now.