"They smelled like L.A. and I smelled like San Francisco": Former Megadeth guitar hero Marty Friedman explains why he "failed miserably" auditioning for Ozzy Osbourne in the '80s

Marty Friedman and Ozzy Osbourne
(Image credit: Bob Berg/Getty Images | Ross Marino/Getty Images)

Long before he joined Megadeth in early 1990, Marty Friedman had a reputation as one of America's hottest up-and-coming guitarists, largely due to his work alongside the equally-gifted Jason Becker in Shrapnel Records act Cacophony. Which is why, in the late '80s, the guitarist received a call from Sharon Osbourne's office asking him to try out for Ozzy Osbourne's solo band, after Jake E. Lee's 1987 exit. 

As Friedman explained during a Q&A interview staged at the Rock 'N' Roll Fantasy Camp's "Metalmania III" event in Los Angeles on November 20, he "failed miserably" at the audition, but not because his guitar skills suddenly deserted him. 

After revealing that his former guitar tech later worked with Ozzy's regular 'right hand man' Zakk Wylde, Friedman recalled his short-lived brush with the Prince Of Darkness' world. 

"I actually got a call from Sharon Osbourne way, way back, and I was living in San Francisco, and they said, 'We'd like to fly you down to audition for Ozzy,'" he recalls, as transcribed by Blabbermouth. "And I'm, like, Oh my god. This is great. I was practically homeless at the time, living with my then-girlfriend and dealing with the rent and all that stuff, as California rock musicians do. And I was so happy to get the call."

Friedman was duly flown to Los Angeles to play with Osbourne's rhythm section, bassist Phil Soussan and drummer Randy Castillo.

"And I thought I played everything absolutely just fine, and I thought it sounded great," he recalls. "Everybody was friendly enough. But our images were very different. Those guys in the band were, like - it was just like a rehearsal, and they were totally decked out in 1980s Sunset Strip... skull t-shirts with handcuffs and long necklaces. And they were just ready to go out on the Strip, and I was just in jeans and a t-shirt, totally normal. It was just a different air."

"Being in a band is so much more than the playing," Friedman continues. "And, actually, the playing is kind of down on the list. If you have the same kind of vibe with the people, you can just kind of smell it: 'This is the guy I wanna hang out with.' And it was different on that level… They smelled like L.A. and I smelled like San Francisco, which was a different smell. Neither of us smelled very good."

"I would have loved to have got the gig," Friedman admitted, "but they were probably just getting ready to go back out drinking, and I'm not a very big drinker, so it wouldn't have jelled so well. But at the time I was, like, Oh, I played it perfectly. Why didn't they call me back? But I get it [now]."

Post-Megadeth, Friedman moved to Japan in 2003. He reunited with his former band for a one-off performance at Japan's legendary Nippon Budokan Arena in February.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.