The Year Was 1979
Ex-Black Sabbath vocalist Ozzy Osbourne was in Los Angeles, where he was attempting to form a new band. Dana Strum, who would later become the bassist for Slaughter was an acquaintance of Randy Rhoads. Strum reached out to Rhoads by phone to try coaxing Randy into auditioning for Ozzy’s new solo project. Randy Rhoads wasn’t very interested initially but he did finally agree to go ahead with it, mostly to get Dana Strum off his back.
The Day Before Ozzy Was Scheduled To Return To England
Randy Rhoads agreed to audition, and with his Gibson Les Paul and a practice amp, he started warming up. Ozzy Osbourne, who was extremely inebriated that day said “He played this solo and I’m like, am I hallucinating or what the fuck is this?!” Ozzy has maintained that he gave Randy Rhoads the job right there and then.
“I just tuned up and played a few riffs, and he said, ‘ You’ve got the gig’, but I thought, ‘You didn’t even hear me yet'”. – Randy Rhoads
After The Audition
Randy told friends that he never actually met Ozzy. Osbourne remained in the studio’s control room, drunk the entire time. According to Randy, it was Strum who emerged from the control room to give the news of his acceptance into the band. Rhoads was scheduled to meet Osbourne in his hotel room the following night. In the years to follow, Ozzy held firm that his first encounter with Randy and the subsequent audition all took place the following night at the hotel.
It seems that Ozzy, being drunk at the time has combined the two events in his mind. The fact that Osbourne immediately began rehearsals with another guitarist upon his return to England seems to confirm that his account of the events is slightly blurred.
Over The Next Few Days
Randy, Ozzy, Strum and drummer Frankie Banali held jam sessions before Osbourne flew back to England. Upon arriving in England Ozzy Osbourne was introduced to ex-Rainbow bassist Bob Daisley, the two hit it off well and they decided they work together.
Randy Rhoads flew to England on November 27th, 1979 to meet with Osbourne and Daisley at the offices of Jet Records in London. Unsatisfied with the current guitar hopeful’s, Ozzy mentioned to Bob that he recently met with an extremely talented young guitarist by the name of Randy Rhoads.
The Dictatorship That Was Management
It was told to Ozzy Osbourne by management that the bands lineup would be “all British” and there was no way they were hiring some unknown American guitarist, but manger Don Arden (father of Sharon Osbourne) eventually caved in to the idea.
Rhoads had to fly back home to Los Angeles days later because he was turned away by English Customs for not having a proper work permit. But before that happened, a representative from Jet Records was dispatched to “clear things up” with Customs but the rep never arrived. Rhoads spent the night in a holding cell before being booked on a flight back to the U.S the very next day.
Some believe this was Arden showing he had friends in high places but that’s another story entirely.
Rhoads soon received an overseas call from Ozzy Osbourne apologizing and explaining that he made all the necessary arrangements for Randy to return to England with all the proper paperwork in place.
Back To Business: Forming The Band
After a short search, drummer Lee Kerslake completed the lineup. The band headed into the studio to begin recording their debut album Blizzard Of Ozz. With each studio session both Osbourne and Daisley were floored by the level of raw talent being spewed out of Randy Rhoads and encourage him to play whatever and however the hell he wanted.
Ozzy Osbourne – lead vocals, harmony vocals
Randy Rhoads – electric and classical guitars
Bob Daisley – bass, backing vocals, gongs
Lee Kerslake – drums, percussion, tubular bells, timpani
Don Airey – keyboards
Ozzy Osbourne said in an interview that he couldn’t understand why a musician as talented as Randy would want to get involved with a “bloated alcoholic train wreck” like himself.
Ozzy Osbourne/Randy Rhoads – Dee
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Jet Records: The label was launched in September 1974 by ex-Warner Bros. manager Des Brown, who cared for the US market, and Don Arden who remained in the UK.
At the time of the album’s recording, the band itself was billed as “The Blizzard of Ozz”, and the album was intended to be credited to the band with Osbourne’s name in smaller print. In fact, when the band appeared at the Reading Festival in 1980 they were billed simply as “Ozzy Osbourne’s New Band”. According to Daisley, “When the album was released the words ‘Ozzy Osbourne’ were in bigger print than ‘The Blizzard of Ozz’ which made it look like an Ozzy Osbourne album called The Blizzard of Ozz.