Jake E. Lee - 10 pivotal moments from a rollercoaster career in rock

Jake E. Lee with Ozzy Osbourne
Jake E. Lee with Ozzy Osbourne (Image credit: Richard E. Aaron \/ Getty Images)

He replaced Randy Rhoads. He was fired by Ozzy. He’s played with Rough Cutt and Badlands, Enuff Z’nuff and Red Dragon Cartel. He’s gone missing, and he’s come back. Jake E. Lee has been a busy boy.

“I never wanted to be that guy who was past his prime, he says, “and still trying to pretend he was significant”.

Here’s 10 pivotal moments from Jake’s long career in rock.

Tease me, please me…

Jake cites mercurial guitarist, the late, great Tommy Bolin, as a major inspiration. So much so that Jake named his high school band Teaser, after Bolin’s 1975 solo album.

Taking the Mickey

The man born Jakey Lou Williams hooked up with a fledgling Ratt (then called Mickey Ratt) and, with Ain’t Gonna Be Your Fool and In Your Direction, conjured up riffs that heralded the direction he’d take later on Bark At The Moon. (In Your Direction would later surface on Ratt’s multi-platinum Out Of The Cellar album, with Warren De Martini on six-string duties.)

Could it have been Dio instead of Ozzy?

While enjoying a short-lived tenure as guitarist in Rough Cutt, Jake’s playing caught the attention of Ronnie James Dio. No surprise really, as Rough Cutt were being managed by Ronnie’s wife, Wendy. Jake and Ronnie wrote a bunch of songs together (indeed, Jake joined the Dio band for a brief spell in 1982) before Ozzy came a-callin’, Jake becoming the permanent replacement in the Osbourne band for the deceased Randy Rhoads.

Muso musings…

Jake’s playing is characterised by riffs/licks where he double-picks each note with palm muting to create a staccato-style effect. Check out the main riff from Ozzy’s Waiting For Darkness to see what we’re waffling on about in such a baffling technical fashion.

Bark At The Moon

Here’s Jake onstage during Ozzy’s 1984 Bark At The Moon tour. Sublime.


After being fired from Ozzy’s band (allegedly by a telegram sent by Sharon) Jake formed Badlands with frontman Ray Gillen – and took a deep dive into the blues…


From Jake’s solo album A Fine Pink Mist. Worth a listen for the song title alone.

Jake E Lee is alive and well and living in Las Vegas

Post-Badlands, sightings of Jake E Lee were few and far between. But here he is popping up in the video for Beggars & Thieves’ song We Come Undone, along with the caption: “He would just rather play with Beggars & Thieves than deal with shady promoters and play Bark At The Moon 750 more times.”

Enuff already!

Oh yeah, Jake was also on Enuff Z’Nuff’s 2009 album Dissonance.

Enter the Dragon

Last time we heard from Jake, it was with new band Red Dragon Cartel. They went through singers like Gordon Ramsay does kitchen porters, but last we heard album number two was on the way…

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Geoff Barton

Geoff Barton is a British journalist who founded the heavy metal magazine Kerrang! and was an editor of Sounds music magazine. He specialised in covering rock music and helped popularise the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) after using the term for the first time (after editor Alan Lewis coined it) in the May 1979 issue of Sounds.