Jake E. Lee - highlights from a rollercoaster career in rock

After a 15-year absence, Jake E Lee is back in the saddle with new band Red Dragon Cartel. He's interviewed in the current edition of Classic Rock, and talks about replacing Randy Rhoads, being fired by Ozzy, and his reluctance to make a comeback. "I never wanted to be that guy who was past his prime, says Lee, "and still trying to pretend he was significant".

Here are ten moments from history that got the guitarist where he is today.

1. 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.

2. Taking the Mickey The man born Jakey Lou Williams hooked up with a fledgling Ratt (then called Mickey Ratt) and, with In Your Direction, delivered an opening guitar salvo that was very 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.)

3. 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.

4. 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.

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

6. Badlands 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…

7. Bludfuk From Jake’s solo album A Fine Pink Mist. Worth a listen for the songtitle alone.

8. 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.”

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

10. Enter the Dragon Now he’s firmly back on the scene with new band Red Dragon Cartel. Welcome back, Jake.

Read about Jake E. Lee’s return in Classic Rock 198, available as digital or print editions from MyFavouriteMagazines (opens in new tab).

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.