"Everybody was comatose!" Rick Wakeman on recording with Black Sabbath

Rick Wakeman
(Image credit: Press)

Rick Wakeman has been recalling the time he worked with Black Sabbath in the 70s, and working with Ozzy Osbourne on 1995's Ozzmosis album, and you can watch a video clip from the interview below.

Wakeman was a guest on The Metal Voice podcast, who filmed a special Q+A with the keyboard maestro at the Paramount in New York, where he recalled how he got involved in Black Sabbath's Sabbath Bloody Sabbath album, while he was recording Tales From Topographic Oceans with Yes. Both albums were recorded at Morgan Studios in Willesden Green in 1973. Wakeman appears on the Sabbath track Sabbra Cadabra.

"We were great friends, I mean Ozzy and Tony and I've been mates since the late 1960s," says Rick. "There was one stage where Black Sabbath and Yes were the same management office and we supported Sabbath towards 1972. They're great friends and we were recording in one studio in 1973 and they were recording over the road in another studio. And this studio had a bar that was open 24 hours a day. 

"So it's quite busy, and Ozzy said to me, 'I've got a couple of things that really need to be done on a keyboard on the album'. Which was very unusual for a metal album (at the time). It's as common as mud now. But he said, 'Would you come do it for us?' I said 'Yeah I will do it for you no problem at all.'

"So we planned to do it  just after midnight after the Yes sessions had finished. I'd go over the road and go in and there'd been (large) amounts of alcohol. I went into the studio and they were all unconscious in a pile. I wasn't far off it. The only person who was less sober was the tape operator, a young lad who was terrified. He said ,'I've set it up where they want you to play it and Ozzy said you'd know what to play'. I said, 'I haven't a clue?' 

"So they put it on. I listened to it a couple of times, worked out things to do, then did that. 'Well hopefully that will work and if it doesn't I'm sure they'll let me know and I'll come and do it again'. And at that moment Ozzy opened his eyes and came forward a bit and I'll change the adjective, he just went 'BLOOMING BRILLIANT' and then was unconscious again.

"Going forward many years later in fact about 22 years ago and my son Adam, my second oldest son, called me up and said, 'I've just joined Ozzy', He said, 'Ozzy wanted to do a couple of tracks from Sabbath Bloody Sabbath that you played on. Can you tell me what you played?' I said everybody was comatose. 'Yeah that's what Ozzy said'. I said work it out and when you do, let me know!"

Wakeman also talked about hooking back up with Ozzy on his 1995 solo album Ozzmosis. The pair would also work on Wakeman's 1999 album Return To The Centre Of The Earth.

"I did his Ozzmosis album which I think that's one of the best albums ever,  it's like a prog metal album, it's brilliant. And that was a totally different Ozzy I mean he produced that and was so on the case. I mean Ozzy is really clever, he is a very bright guy, he's very clever musically and we're still great friends."

Jerry Ewing

Writer and broadcaster Jerry Ewing is the Editor of Prog Magazine which he founded for Future Publishing in 2009. He grew up in Sydney and began his writing career in London for Metal Forces magazine in 1989. He has since written for Metal Hammer, Maxim, Vox, Stuff and Bizarre magazines, among others. He created and edited Classic Rock Magazine for Dennis Publishing in 1998 and is the author of a variety of books on both music and sport, including Wonderous Stories; A Journey Through The Landscape Of Progressive Rock.