In 1979, Ozzy Osbourne got ousted from Black Sabbath. What was, at the time, a heartbreaking exit that thrust the Prince of Darkness into despair has since become the moment he started his journey into standalone supremacy.
Lifted back onto his feet by partner and manager Sharon Arden, the Double-O corralled a now-legendary lineup: Uriah Heep drummer Lee Kerslake, Rainbow bassist Bob Daisley and the late, great ex-Quiet Riot virtuoso, Randy Rhoads. Then, the four-piece pumped out one of the most beloved metal albums in history within a mere matter of months. This is the story of every single song on Ozzy’s solo debut, Blizzard Of Ozz.
I Don’t Know
Blizzard…’s opener has its head in two places. Lyrically, Ozzy laments his Sabbath sacking, wailing lines like, “What’s the future of mankind? How do I know, I got left behind!” However, musically, I Don’t Know is also a bold charge into new pastures, Rhoads’ prodigious playing announcing itself with a then-futuristic gallop. The song became a fast setlist fixture during the 1980 Blizzard Of Ozz tour, and today it’s among Ozzy’s most-performed songs, second only to track two on this very album.
All abooooooooard! From Ozzy’s opening, demented cry to the monolithic Randy Rhoads parts and solos that follow it, Crazy Train is nonstop heavy metal history-making. Although some of the guitarist’s former Quiet Riot colleagues have tried to claim authorship of that iconic riff, Daisley’s insisted it was Rhoads’ creation. Meanwhile, the lyrics echo the topic of Sabbath standout War Pigs in that they savage warfare, but this time they squarely tackle the Cold War: “Inheriting troubles, I’m mentally numb,” the closing verse declares.
Goodbye To Romance
This bittersweet ballad was the first song written for Blizzard…. Ozzy again mourns the end of his Sabbath days here, crooning, “Everybody’s having fun except me, I’m the lonely one. I live in shame.” However, the frontman’s confidence grows as the song continues, and before long he’s bravely facing the new adventure ahead. “The weather’s looking fine and I think the sun will shine again,” states the last verse. “And I feel I've cleared my mind, all the past is left behind again.”
This 49-second-long acoustic guitar piece was penned and performed, unsurprisingly, by Randy Rhoads. It was dedicated to his mum, Delores, who was key to his musical education at a young age, teaching him to read sheet music. Delores passed away in 2015, 33 years after Randy, at the age of 95. Randy’s brother Kelle said in tribute: “She changed a policy at UCLA when she was a music student there. A woman couldn’t sit first-chair in the brass section. Until my mum.”
The lyrics of Suicide Solution allude to death via alcohol, and Daisley says he wrote them in reference to Ozzy and his hedonistic habits at the time. Famously, the words got the Prince Of Darkness sued, as parents of a 19-year-old who took his own life in 1984 alleged he did so after listening to the song. The case got dismissed in 1988, though. Suicide…’s main riff was based on one Rhoads previously used in Quiet Riot, for the song Force Of Habit.
The second single from Blizzard… (after Crazy Train), Mr Crowley takes its title from English occultist Aleister Crowley. The lyrics relate Ozzy’s curiosity over the figure at the time, given that Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page had just bought Crowley’s former house. But, they also inspired allegations of the ex-Sabbath man being into the dark arts. As he told Rolling Stone: “I thought, ‘Mr Crowley, who are you? Where are you from?’ But people would hear the song and go, ‘He’s definitely into witchcraft.’”
No Bone Movies
The lyrics of this upbeat metal scamper, stacked with slicing lead guitar lines, were written by Daisley. They express the bassist’s dislike for porn films (or, as Rhoads called them, “bone movies”), inspired by a time he watched one with Ozzy and their guitarist. That opening verse certainly doesn’t mask Daisley’s feelings towards the topic: “Silver screen, such a disgrace. I couldn’t look her straight in the face. A blue addiction I live in disgust. Degradation, I’m being eaten by lust.”
Revelation (Mother Earth)
This mournful, escalating track directly addresses the ravages of climate change. Ozzy uses biblical and apocalyptic imagery to hammer home the sheer damage humanity’s wreaking on the planet, opening with a powerful, “Mother please forgive them, for they know not what they do!” Despite being one of this album’s best songs, layered with grandiose pianos and acoustics, it’s seldom been performed live since 1985. According to setlist.fm, its last airing was during the Ozzfest tour in 2000.
Steal Away (The Night)
Following the more spacious and sombre Revelation…, Steal Away (The Night) is a closing blast of energy that ends Blizzard… on a high. Ozzy has since said that the song’s placement as a grand but thrashy finale was planned, because, “I’ve always liked the idea of ending the album with an uptempo song, like ending the live set with Paranoid.” The lyrics, largely written by Daisley, are seductive and romantic, offering the listener “escape to a paradise that’s truly free”.