Blizzard Of Ozz: the wild story of the album that saved Ozzy Osbourne

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Summer, 1979. On the streets of West Hollywood the afternoon temperature is around 80 degrees. But there’s no sunlight pouring into one particular room at Le Parc Hotel at 733 North West Knoll Drive.

The curtains are drawn, as they had been for weeks on end. The air conditioning is on full blast, but a gas fire is also lit. The room reeks of cigarette smoke, booze and stale food, and is littered with empty beer cans and liquor bottles, crumpled clothes, overflowing ashtrays and pizza boxes. Amid the detritus, alone and in the darkness, sits Ozzy Osbourne, drunk, stoned, wired on cocaine, stupefied and shut off from the world.

For 10 years he had been the singer in Black Sabbath, one of the biggest rock acts in the world. But on April 27, 1979, while Sabbath were in rehearsals in Los Angeles, Ozzy was dismissed on the grounds that he was a drunkard and drug addict.

“I was no more fucked up than the rest of them,” Ozzy says now. “It was bullshit.” But the decision had been made. And at the age of 30, Ozzy thought he was finished.

It was Sabbath’s manager, Don Arden, an infamous hard man nicknamed ‘the Al Capone of pop’, who sent Ozzy to Le Parc. And there the singer hid himself away, humiliated and depressed. With his wife Thelma and his two children back home in England, Ozzy attempted to numb his pain in the only way he knew how: with alcohol, cocaine, weed and a string of one-night stands. He opened his door only to drug dealers, for booze and pizza deliveries, or for a few well-informed groupies who had managed to track him down.

“I stayed in that room and got fucked up,” he says. “I thought, Black Sabbath was a big thing, but it’s over. So I’ll have my last blast with the booze and dope, and fuck as many tarts as I can, and then go home. But I didn’t fuck the tarts, because I was too pissed. And then one day Sharon came round.”

Sharon Arden, Don’s daughter, worked for her father’s firm at their LA office. At 27 she had spent most of her adult life around rock bands. She’d first met Ozzy when she was just 18. Like her,father, Sharon had a tough, no-nonsense approach to business. But when she visited Ozzy at Le Parc, she was shocked at his appearance, and at the squalor in which he was living.

“He looked awful,” she says. “He hadn’t shaved in weeks. His clothes were covered in food and he smelt terrible. It was heartbreaking to see somebody in such a state of hopelessness.”

What Sharon Arden said to Ozzy that day would change his life; save him from himself. “Listen,” she told him. “If you clean your act up we want to manage you.” All that Ozzy could muster was a single word in reply: “Me?”

The resurrection of Ozzy Osbourne would be one of the most unlikely comebacks in rock history – and one of the most spectacular. He would rebuild his life and career with the help of Sharon Arden – his manager since 1980 and his wife since 1982 – and Randy Rhoads, the young American guitarist who illuminated the two albums that launched Ozzy’s solo career: 1980’s Blizzard Of Ozz and 1981’s Diary Of A Madman. But while Ozzy’s relationship with Sharon would endure, his partnership,with Rhoads was all too brief, ended by a freak aeroplane crash that claimed the guitarist’s life just five months after Diary Of A Madman was released.

“Randy was an awesome musician,” Ozzy says. “And he was the sweetest, funniest guy. We loved each other. The day he died was the greatest tragedy of my life.”

Blizzard Of Ozz: (l-r) Randy Rhoads, Lee Kerslake, Ozzy Osbourne, Bob Daisley

Blizzard Of Ozz: (l-r) Randy Rhoads, Lee Kerslake, Ozzy Osbourne, Bob Daisley (Image credit: Getty Images)

It was just a few weeks after Sharon Arden spoke to Ozzy at Le Parc that he met Randy Rhoads for the first time. Under Sharon’s instructions, Ozzy had begun auditioning musicians in LA, among them Gary Moore, who had recently left Thin Lizzy. “It never worked out,” Ozzy says. “Gary was always hot and cold.”

Among the various LA-based guitarists who later auditioned, Rhoads was the only candidate who impressed, although on first sight the singer was distinctly underwhelmed. Lying on a sofa in a rehearsal room, a stoned Ozzy viewed Rhoads through one eye and thought: “What the fuck is this?” Recalling the young guitarist’s tiny stature and delicate features, Ozzy says: “He looked like a girl! He was about four-foot-two and weighed about 100 pounds wet.” But when Rhoads plugged in and played, Ozzycouldn’t believe what he was hearing. “I was thinking, either this is incredible gear that I’m on, or this guy is something else!”

Rhoads and Ozzy were polar opposites. Eight years younger, Randy was a classically trained musician who still lived at his mother’s house. He was softly spoken and rarely drank alcohol. But, as Ozzy says: “We just hit it off. It was like The Odd Couple. Randy hardly ever drank – he’d have this weird shit called a Golden Cadillac [a cocktail of Galliano, white crème de cacao and cream], and get all giggly when he’d had a few. But when it came to music, we just clicked. With Black Sabbath they’d just come up with the riff, and if I couldn’t beat the riff I’d have to sing with it. Randy was the first guitar player to really help me, instead of just saying: ‘Put a vocal over that‘. He was a very patient man.”

Rhoads was still officially a member of LA rock band Quiet Riot, so initial rehearsals with Ozzy were conducted in secrecy in LA, assisted by drummer Frankie Banali and bassist Dana Strum. Shortly afterwards, Ozzy returned to his family in the UK – his relationship with Sharon was still purely professional at this stage. And it was in September 1979, on a night out at the Music Machine club in London, that Ozzy befriended Bob Daisley. Aged 30, the easy-going Australian had recently been the bassist in Rainbow. He would prove to be a hugely important ally for Ozzy.

Randy Rhoads: “He looked like a girl! He was about four-foot-two and weighed about 100 pounds wet.”

Randy Rhoads: “He looked like a girl! He was about four-foot-two and weighed about 100 pounds wet.” (Image credit: Getty Images)

At first Daisley was cautious. “Ozzy had been fired by Black Sabbath for being out of his mind,” he says. “He didn’t have a lot of credibility.” But after rehearsals at Ozzy’s house in Stafford, Daisley agreed to work with Ozzy on his new album. And in November, at the London offices of Don Arden’s Jet Records, Daisley was introduced to the guitarist who’d just flown in from LA.

“Randy wore very fitted clothes, his hair was perfect and his nails were long and manicured… I wondered, is this guy gay?” Daisley laughs. “But I realised after a short time that he wasn’t.” After their first rehearsal together, he also realised that Rhoads was a genuine talent.

The three began writing for the album, and auditioning drummers, at two studios: Rockfield in Wales, and Transam Trucking in Suffolk. By Daisley’s reckoning, it was he and Rhoads who wrote the bulk of the music.

“The main riffs came from Randy,” he says. “Then he and I would work those riffs into songs. But Ozzy did have his input. His vocal melodies were always good and always important.” Daisley also wrote, in his estimation, “98 per cent of the lyrics”, just as Black Sabbath’s bassist Geezer Butler had written the words to Sabbath’s songs.

“Ozzy was not a lyricist,” Daisley says. “But a couple of the song titles were his.” The title of the album was also Ozzy’s: the cocaine- referencing pun Blizzard Of Ozz.

Writing progressed quickly, even if Ozzy was often too drunk to contribute much of any value. “Sometimes he’d start drinking by late morning,” Daisley says, “and then he’d sleep all afternoon.”

The search for a drummer, however, proved frustrating, until Don Arden’s son, David, who was overseeing the project while Sharon remained in LA, brought in Lee Kerslake, a burly, bearded, 32-year-old former member of Uriah Heep.

“I counted in, ‘One, two, three…’, hit the drums and Randy Rhoads jumped two feet in the air, shouting: ‘We got it!’” Kerslake says of his audition, at Shepperton Studios in Middlesex. “It was magic. Uncanny.” Daisley agreed. “Lee played with fire and aggression,” he says. “That was the guy we’d been looking for.”
With his audition passed, Kerslake shook hands with Ozzy. The drummer recalls Ozzy saying to him: “Here’s my hand, here’s my heart. This band will never part.”

Ozzy Osbourne: the singer was “out of his mind”

The band began recording Blizzard Of Ozz on March 22, 1980 at Ridge Farm Studios in rural Surrey, a residential facility based around a 17th-century farmhouse. “It was kind of like a dysfunctional rock’n’roll work camp,” Ozzy says.

The initial producer, Chri Tsangarides, was relieved of his duties after a week, and the four band members would co-produce the album, with Ridge Farm staffer Max Norman as engineer, recording in the converted barn that served as the main studio. “That room had a fabulous ambience,” Kerslake says. “You could feel the music coming alive.”

The album was completed in four weeks. By his own admission, Ozzy spent much of that time in a nearby pub, The Plough, which was owned by the studio. “We would lay a track down in the morning,” he recalls, “and the moment we’d get a track done I’d go for a drink. If it wasn’t for closing hours the album would never have been fucking done.”

Ozzy nicknamed Bob Daisley ‘Sid Serious’, because Daisley was so focused on the task in hand, but it wasn’t only Ozzy who was drinking and doing drugs. “It was a fun time,” Daisley says. “We’d all do a little bit, apart from Randy, who didn’t do drugs. But Ozzy… he tended to overdo it.”

Witnessing the singer’s self-destructive binges, Daisley was inspired to write the lyrics to what became one of the album’s most famous songs, Suicide Solution. Ozzy wrote the opening line – ‘Wine is fine but whisky’s quicker’ – after Ogden Nash’s ‘Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker’ – and claims it was about AC/DC singer Bon Scott (who had died of acute alcohol poisoning on February 19, 1980). But Daisley says: “Bon Scott was a mate of mine, and he happened to die around about that time, but the lyrics were about Ozzy, because he was always getting out of it.” This much, Ozzy does not deny. “I was going the same way as Bon Scott,” he admits.

But what Ozzy delivered on Blizzard Of Ozz was astonishing: a performance of complete authority that redefined his entire career. If Ozzy had felt like a has-been following his dismissal from Black Sabbath, he sounded reborn on Blizzard Of Ozz.

It was a heavy metal album, but one quite unlike anything he had recorded with Sabbath. With Rhoads, the most exciting guitarist since Eddie Van Halen, Ozzy had found a new sound for the new decade – illustrated most powerfully by the new album’s lead single, Crazy Train, a modern, hard rock anthem driven by a high-octane Rhoads riff, with Ozzy gleefully playing up to his loony-tunes image.

Blizzard Of Ozz was full of great songs: I Don’t Know, the heavy-hitting opener; Goodbye To Romance, a broken-hearted ballad and Mr Crowley a study of infamous occultist Aleister Crowley, with a suitably doomy keyboard intro by Rainbow’s Don Airey. The album was released in the UK on Jet Records on September 20, 1980 (it was released in the US the following year). It was a Top 10 hit, and was accompanied by a sell-out tour – proof that Ozzy was not, as he’d feared, a has-been.

But on the eve of the tour, when Sharon Arden observed the band’s rehearsals in her new role as Ozzy’s manager, she sensed that something was not right. “I wasn’t responsible for bringing Daisley and Kerslake in,” she says. “And I didn’t like what I saw. Not that they weren’t good musicians, but visually it was all off.”

To her mind, Daisley, at 30, and Kerslake, 33, were too old and too old-school. Daisley claims that during that UK tour, Ozzy and Sharon repeatedly said to him: “Let’s get rid of Lee.” He says they had a replacement already lined up: Mississippi-born Tommy Aldridge. “I would never agree to it,” Daisley insists. “I said: ‘Tommy’s a great drummer, but Lee’s perfect for the band‘.”

But on October 31, 1980, when the tour finished with a date at Brighton Dome, Aldridge was there as Sharon’s guest. At the time, Kerslake thought nothing of it, but as he says now: “I should have twigged what was happening…”

Hello to romance: Ozzy Osbourne and Sharon Arden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

What was also happening was an affair between Ozzy and Sharon that would lead to the break-up of the singer’s marriage. The pair first became romantically involved in August 1980, and while Thelma was unaware of it the affair was common knowledge among Ozzy’s inner circle. “Ozzy was going through all this personal turmoil,” says Daisley. “He’d started this thing with Sharon, and he was going back and forth to Thelma in Stafford.”

With the US release of Blizzard Of Ozz still pending, Sharon put the band back to work on a second album. Songs were written in late 1980 at Jumbo Studios in North London, but Ozzy was not always present as he made frequent trips to see Thelma and the kids. It was a familiar pattern, with the band accustomed to working in Ozzy’s absence.

As Bob Daisley recollects, it was also at this time that Ozzy’s band threatened a kind of mutiny. According to Daisley, it had been agreed by all parties that half of all monies would go to Ozzy, with the other half split between Daisley, Kerslake and Rhoads. “Ozzy was the guy that landed the deal with Jet Records,” Daisley says. “So that was the agreement. But as we were writing the second album, we still hadn’t had the contracts signed. So we said, fuck this. Randy, Lee and I downed tools.”

Daisley says that Don Arden persuaded them to continue writing new material, promising that the contracts would be finalised as quickly as possible. On February 9, 1981 Ozzy and his band returned to Ridge Farm to record Diary Of A Madman. Teamed once more with Max Norman, who would get a co-producer’s credit on this album, they worked for six weeks in total. The result was a record as good, perhaps even better, than Blizzard Of Ozz. The title track was its artistic peak: a bizarre gothic masterpiece incorporating choir and orchestration, inspired by Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.

“At first, Ozzy didn’t get it,” the bassist chuckles. “It’s not your standard 44 rock thing – it’s got weird timings – and Ozzy didn’t know where to sing or what to sing. He said: ‘Who the fuck do you think I am, Frank Zappa?’.”

Ozzy’s relationship with Sharon was intensifying. During the recording, she was a regular visitor to Ridge Farm, where she stayed overnight with the singer in a chalet at the studio. By the end of the year, Thelma Osbourne would file for divorce.

The band left Ridge Farm on March 23, four weeks before the start of a US tour, while Diary Of A Madman was being mixed. A few days later, Lee Kerslake phoned his wife at their villa in Lanzarote. He was about to fly to the island for a short break ahead of the tour. Kerslake’s wife told him to sit down. “You’re out,” she said. “Ozzy’s got rid of you and Bob. You’re not going to America.” It was, Kerslake says, “one hell of a bombshell”.

Ozzy Osbourne and Randy Rhoads live in the US

Ozzy Osbourne and Randy Rhoads live in the US

Ozzy and Sharon give different accounts of their reasons for firing Kerslake and Daisley. “I had some fucking great times with Lee and Bob,” Ozzy says. “We were a team. But when the success came they were like, ‘My idea is better than your idea’. And I thought, this can’t work.” Sharon likens the pair to union shop stewards, continually haggling over money. “Lee and Bob were too small-time for us,” she says. “They’d take the food home from the dressing room in Tupperware boxes, so they wouldn’t have to buy themselves dinner. They were a big pain in the ass.”

Bob Daisley describes these allegations as “ridiculous”. He believes that he and Kerslake were fired because they had dared to challenge Sharon’s authority. “Sharon told Ozzy that some of the US promoters wanted to do two shows in one day,” Daisley says. “Ozzy said to us: ‘Fellas, you’ve gotta back me up – my voice won’t handle it’. He knew his limitations. We said to Sharon: ‘Look, Ozzy’s voice isn’t gonna hold out’. And then Sharon blamed us! She said we were the ones who wouldn’t do two shows a day. It was absolute bollocks. We were backing up Ozzy, because he asked us to!”

Both men felt betrayed. Kerslake also claims that after he and Daisley were fired, Randy Rhoads threatened to quit in protest. “Randy said to me: ‘I’ll leave if you want me to. I don’t wanna stay in this without you two‘. That’s how close we were. I said: ‘Randy, this is gonna go through the roof – these two albums are gonna sell millions, trust me. Stay with it, mate – and good luck to you’. I wish I hadn’t said that now. He’d still be alive.”

When Ozzy’s US tour kicked off at the Towson Center in Maryland on April 22, it was with a new band: Randy, Tommy Aldridge, keyboard player Don Airey, and Cuban bassist Rudy Sarzo, another ex-member of Quiet Riot. One month later, Blizzard Of Ozz entered the US chart. It would peak at No.21.

The support act on the tour was Motörhead, whose leader, Lemmy, had an appetite for drink and drugs to match even Ozzy’s. After one particularly heavy night on what Ozzy refers to as “the chemistry set”, he and Lemmy met the following morning and were shocked at the sight of each other. “I’d been doing cocaine and booze all night,” Ozzy recalls. “I felt like somebody had scraped me off a gorilla’s arsehole. And there was Lemmy, sheet-white, looking like he’s just come out of a fucking silent horror film. And he looks at me and says: ‘Fucking hell, I hope I don’t look as bad as you!’. If Lemmy Kilmister’s saying that to me, I must be fucking bad.”

During the tour, Sharon attempted to control Ozzy’s drug intake by firing any member of the road crew that was caught supplying him. “Everybody wants to be his pal,” she says. “Everybody wants to have an Ozzy story.” But if Ozzy was still able to get drugs, and was still, in his words, “the king fucking drunk”, the tour progressed smoothly through 87 shows, including a six-week run with Def Leppard opening.

When Diary Of A Madman was released on November 7, 1981, Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake were shocked when they saw the finished album: Tommy Aldridge and Rudy Sarzo were credited as drummer and bassist; production was credited to Ozzy, Randy and Max Norman. “We were all hands-on with the production,” Daisley says, “but Lee and I didn’t get credited for anything. We’d been written out of history.”

The second album would reach No.14 in the UK and No.16 in the US. A British tour in December was cancelled after two shows, with Ozzy citing exhaustion. But at the end of that month another US tour began in San Francisco: a tour that would lead Ozzy into a storm of controversy and then into utter despair.

Back in April 1981, Ozzy had caused widespread public outrage when – drunk, as usual – he bit the head of a live dove at a record company meet-and-greet to launch Blizzard Of Ozz. On January 20, 1982,three weeks into the US tour, he did something oddly similar. During a concert at the Veterans Auditorium in Des Moines, Iowa, a fan threw a bat on to the stage, and Ozzy, thinking it was a toy, and cheered on by the audience, bit its head off. He promptly realised it was not a toy when the head “twitched” in his mouth. He was later rushed to a nearby hospital for rabies shots.

An even greater controversy followed later in the tour when on February 19, when Ozzy, drunk yet again, was arrested in San Antonio, Texas for urinating against a wall at The Alamo, a sacred American monument.

“Ozzy was really getting out of control,” Sharon says. It was during this period that Randy Rhoads tried to shock Ozzy into seeing sense. “You’re gonna drink yourself to death,” the guitarist said. “It was kind of ironic,” Ozzy says now. “Poor Randy died not too long after that.”

On March 19, 1982, the band were en route to Orlando for a festival show when their tour bus driver, Andrew Aycock, made an unscheduled stop in Leesburg, Florida, where he owned a home adjacent to an airstrip. Most of the people on the bus, including Ozzy and Sharon, remained asleep. But a few were awake, among them Randy, Don Airey and Rachel Youngblood, a seamstress and assistant to Sharon. Aycock, a licensed pilot, offered them joyrides in a light aircraft. Randy, who ha a fear of flying, declined at first. But after Aycock had taken Airey for a spin, Randy and Rachel boarded the plane. Witnesses reported that it twice flew low over the tour bus, buzzing it, before a third pass resulted in disaster when the left wing clipped the back of the bus and the plane crashed into the garage of a nearby house.

Ozzy woke in terror. “There was an almighty bang,” he says. “The bus was shaking. I thought, the fucking guy’s hit something on the freeway. And I could smell fuel. I grabbed Sharon and we got out. I didn’t know what the fuck was going on. I was in the middle of this fucking field, in my underpants. And then I saw this blazing inferno.”

Tour manager Jake Duncan was standing beside Ozzy in mute shock. Ozzy screamed: “Where the fuck is Randy?!”, Duncan pointed to the garage, as flames and smoke engulfed it. When Don Airey rushed past carrying a fire extinguisher, Ozzy shook his head and said: “Forget it.”

It was later reported that the bodies of Rhoads, Youngblood and Aycock were identified only by dental records and jewellery; also, that Aycock had traces of cocaine in his blood.

When news of Randy’s death reached Lee Kerslake in England, he was devastated. “That ripped me to pieces,” he sighs. “I cried for three days.”

Ozzy, meanwhile, remained too traumatised to grieve fully. “You can’t explain how you feel,” he says. “In a way, you don’t feel. You just shut down.”

Sharon was mourning the loss of two dear friends – she refers to Rachel Youngblood as “the mother I never had and always wanted” – but she was also determined that the tour, and Ozzy, must move on – and quickly. “Ozzy was saying: ‘I’ve lost everything. I’m just gonna fuck off home’,” she recalls. “And I’m like: ‘You can’t. You’ve got a whole tour sold out. You’re gonna do it‘. And it wasn’t that old bollocks about, you know, Randy would have wanted you to do it, we just had to carry on. I said to Ozzy: ‘If you keep going we will find the right person along the way’. But it was hard. Very fucking hard.”

The day after Randy’s death, a subdued Ozzy Osbourne was back on stage at Orlando’s Tangerine Bowl with former Gillan guitarist Bernie Tormé standing in as temporary replacement for Rhoads. Sharon made calls to other high-profile guitar players. “Michael Schenker wanted too much money,” she says. “And when I asked Gary Moore to do me a favour he told me to fuck off.” After three weeks, Tormé departed at his own request, and Night Ranger’s Brad Gillis joined the band for the remainder of the tour.

“There was a chain of events,” Ozzy reflects. “My father died. My band Black Sabbath fired me. My wife put in for a divorce. My new band starts up and my guitar player gets killed. I remember saying to Sharon: ‘You know, I can’t take this fucking merry-go-round any more. It’s over‘. And she went: ‘No it fucking isn’t!’. If she hadn’t said that, I’d still be in that fucking field, staring at a burned-out house.”

It’s no secret that, in the weeks prior to his death, Randy Rhoads was planning to leave Ozzy’s band. As a student of classical music, he wanted to broaden his range as a musician. Ozzy remembers Rhoads speaking about this the night before he died, during the bus ride from Tennessee to Florida.

“He said he didn’t want to do rock’n’roll any more,” Ozzy recalls. “He wanted to go off and study classical stuff. I said: ‘Hang about! We’re just fucking breaking big now. The way we’re going you’ll be able to buy your own fucking university!’. After that I hit the sack. It was about 5.30 in the morning, and I’d been on the gin all night.” It was the last conversation they had.

There is, however, a different version of events, as told to Bob Daisley by two people who claim to have seen Ozzy punch Randy in the face when Randy said he was quitting. Daisley, for one, believes this to be true. “Randy wanted to go to Europe to get his degree in classical music,” he says. “But there was this contractual obligation with Don Arden, who wanted Ozzy to do a live album of Sabbath material. Randy did not want to do it. But he agreed to do it if he could get out of his contract and fuck off.”

According to Daisley’s sources, this led to a confrontation between Ozzy and Randy just two weeks before Randy was killed. Daisley recounts: “Ozzy called him an ungrateful little shit and whacked him.”

Sharon Osbourne has also heard this story. “Ozzy would never, ever have done that to Randy,” she says. “Some people would like to believe that Ozzy would have been so distraught about Randy leaving that he would have punched him. But I spoke to Randy’s mum about this. The first person Randy would have told would have been his mum. And when I told her that story she was mortified. It’s just not true.”

But, as Ozzy acknowledges, there have always been rumours about Randy Rhoads. “People say if Randy had have lived he’d have gone back to Quiet Riot,” Ozzy says. “I just wish he had been around to go back to Quiet Riot.”

As Sharon says: “There are always three sides to any story: what you said, what they said, and the truth.” And in the story of Blizzard Of Ozz and Diary Of A Madman – in the testimonies of Ozzy and Sharon, and Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake – the truth is entirely subjective.

In 1983, less than a year after Sharon fired him, Daisley worked on Ozzy’s album Bark At The Moon. It resulted, Daisley says, from Sharon assisting him and Kerslake in a lawsuit against her father Don Arden and Jet Records. Daisley would also play bass on Ozzy’s 1991 album No More Tears. But in 1997 he and Kerslake would sue the Osbournes for alleged non-payment of performance royalties. Sharon responded by having both Blizzard Of Ozz and Diary Of A Madman remixed in 2002, with Daisley and Kerslake’s contributions replaced with new recordings from Ozzy’s then-rhythm section bassist Robert Trujillo and drummer Mike Bordin.

Only now, with the 2011 reissues of the albums have the original versions been restored. “I’m glad about that,” Ozzy says. “I don’t give a fuck if you’ve got Jesus Christ and Moses playing bass and drums, it ain’t the same.”

This, at least, is something that they can all agree on. As Kerslake says: “We were all friends, and that’s what’s so sad about what happened. But those albums we made are outstanding.”

For Bob Daisley, Blizzard Of Ozz and Diary Of A Madman represented the fulfilment of a long-held ambition. “I’d always wanted to create some music that became a real part of rock history,” he says.

For Ozzy, those two albums were perhaps the most important that he ever made: the basis for his resurrection from has-been to hero. He can still recall the dark days of 1979 in that stinking room at Le Parc: “After Black Sabbath fired me I didn’t know if I was gonna sell a fucking bottle top again. But there was a magic that happened with Randy and Bob and Lee, and that’s so rare.”

Above all, he says, these albums stand as testament to the brilliance of Randy Rhoads, the young guitarist who did so much to turn Ozzy’s life around.

“It’s only when people die at a young age, like Randy, and Hendrix before him, that people put this mystique around them,” Ozzy says. “But there was no mystique about Randy Rhoads. He was just a fucking incredible guitar player and a lovely guy. We really were made for each other.”

This feature originally appeared in Classic Rock 161.

Paul Elliott

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2005, Paul Elliott has worked for leading music titles since 1985, including Sounds, Kerrang!, MOJO and Q. He is the author of several books including the first biography of Guns N’ Roses and the autobiography of bodyguard-to-the-stars Danny Francis. He has written liner notes for classic album reissues by artists such as Def Leppard, Thin Lizzy and Kiss, and currently works as content editor for Total Guitar. He lives in Bath - of which David Coverdale recently said: “How very Roman of you!”