Bassist Speaks Up on Ozzy Osbourne ’Giving Randy Rhoads a Tough Time,’ Recalls What Working With Ozzy Was Like

In a recent interview with Guitar World, bassist Rudy Sarzo looked back on working with the legendary Randy Rhoads in Quiet Riot and in Ozzy Osbourne’s band. Sarzo, who’s now back in Quiet Riot, reflected on how he returned to the lineup and what it has to do with the band’s old days. He offered:

“I came back to Quiet Riot not long after Randy [Rhoads] had passed away. My first show with Quiet Riot after I returned was at the Roxy, maybe a year after Randy had passed. He passed in ’82, so this would have been in ’83.

“I returned because I had recorded some tracks on the record, and it felt right. I wanted to honor the legacy of Randy and see it through; in my heart, it felt like the right thing to do, and I loved the music, too. We did four shows in two nights at the Roxy that weekend and sold them all out. From there, things began to blow up.”

QUIET RIOT - Featuring Randy Rhoads - September 22, 1979 (FULL SET)

When asked about Quiet Riot’s Randy Rhoads era which is often overshadowed by the “Metal Health” period which came after Randy’s passing, Sarzo commented:

“It’s just as important. Going back to ’78, when I first joined Quiet Riot, all of our energy and focus went into getting a record deal. We wanted to record that album so that we could get out on tour and play shows as professional musicians

“Before Quiet Riot, the bands I had been in were focused on the top 40, so this was the first time everyone in a band I was in focused on the same concept and goals. But, of course, having Randy in the band was a huge part of that.”

Spector: Rudy Sarzo Signature Bass

When further asked to explain what was is about Randy that “moved the needle,” he replied:

“The reason why, in my opinion, is that Randy had the highest musical integrity of any musician I’ve ever met or played with. When it comes to Randy, there are many facets to it, but one is that he was born into a musical family and academia.”

“His parents were both professors, and his mom opened a music school in North Hollywood, California. So, Randy started reading music, studying harmonies and composition, and playing classical acoustic guitar before he picked up an electric guitar.”

“Most kids were into rock ‘n’ roll, going to parties, and picking up girls, which was great. But the impression I got when I met Randy Rhoads was that he was slightly different. That was the first time that I truly experienced musical integrity.

OZZY OSBOURNE - "Mr. Crowley" 1981 (Live Video)

“With Randy, it was all about the music, nothing else. There was no focus on what party we were going to or what girl we were seeing; the music was front and center. So, I met him and immediately knew, ‘Okay, I want to be a part of this.’ I’ve taken those basic things I learned from Randy early on into every band I’ve been in since.”

Randy Rhoads, who tragically passed away in March 1982, came to prominence when he joined Ozzy Osbourne’s band. Supporting the former Black Sabbath singer was a major thing for him back in the day, especially knowing that he was also expected to write music. But that, of course, comes with its challenges.

OZZY OSBOURNE - "I Don't Know" 1981 (Live Video)

And, according to Sarzo, things weren’t exactly perfect for Randy in Ozzy’s band. Asked about how Randy evolved after joining Ozzy’s band, the bassist replied:

“Oh, man. He was incredible, man. By that point, he had even more musical dexterity. Being able to play with Randy in both bands was incredible. I’m the only musician that was blessed to be able to do that. I played with him in Quiet Riot, so being able to join him in Ozzy’s band was a whole new animal.

“In many ways, Randy was a totally different musician by that point. So, now, there was musical integrity, but with Ozzy, he was carrying a different sort of load. With Quiet Riot, the band was his baby, and we were fighting for a record deal. But with Ozzy, there was a deal, and now he was being asked to help someone who had established write music after he had left Black Sabbath.”

Ozzy Listening to Lost Randy Rhoads Solo

When asked whether Randy felt pressure when tasked to write original new music for Ozzy, Sarzo replied:

“That’s hard to say. I do know that Randy asked Ozzy, ‘How and what do you want me to write?’ And Ozzy basically told him, ‘Just be yourself. That’s why you’re here.’ And that’s where that classical musical influence we saw from the beginning came out; it was so natural for him. Not only was it natural, but he began to pursue it harder after that. That’s where he saw himself as he began to lean into classical music, leading him to a new level of musicianship.

“But with Ozzy, I have to go back to the integrity thing again. Randy refused to record the ‘Speak of the Devil‘ record, which we eventually did with Brad Gillis. When this happened, Ozzy went off the rails and fired the band, which he later took back.

“He gave Randy a tough time, but Randy wanted to go back to school and get his master’s. That’s all he cared about. Ultimately, he agreed to do it and do one more tour, but it never happened because he passed away.

“Randy was a rock star, and he became the biggest guitarist in the world. But he didn’t care; he was the only person I ever saw who would turn their back on stardom just to go back to school to pursue what they felt would bring their musicianship to the highest level.”

A difficult question came up next — does he feel that guitar-driven music would have been different if Randy had survived, Sarzo said:

“I think Randy would have taken metal to a new dimension because it was natural for him to do things like that. He was such a passionate musician, and if you see images of him playing with Quiet Riot and then Ozzy, the passion was always the same. That passion would have been there no matter where he played or how many people he played in front of.

“His personality never changed, even as his skills and stardom rose. People became aware of what he was doing, followed it, and believed in it. That alone would have altered the way guitar music went because I don’t think that would have changed. To this day, even though he left us so young, his music still influences everything. It’s still everywhere. If he had the chance to do more, forget about it.”

Photo: Andrew King (Randy Rhoads with Les Paul guitar (1980)), Andrew King (OzzyOsbourne)

Author

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.