Drummer Recalls Rejecting Black Sabbath Because ’It Wasn’t a Good Gig,’ Explains Why He Got Fired From Ozzy’s Band

Drummer Carmine Appice, who’s known for his work in a variety of bands in hard rock and heavy metal, recently sat down with Ultimate Guitar to discuss his work and career. Among other things, Carmine touched upon almost joining Black Sabbath back in 1980, right after the release of the “Heaven and Hell” album.

Then fronted by Ronnie James Dio, it turns out that this was not a satisfactory gig for Carmine. At the time, Carmine was working for Rod Stewart and Sabbath were struggling to get back to the level of fame they enjoyed in the 1970s. Eventually, Carmine’s brother Vinny Appice got the gig.

Asked whether he was ever considered for the role, Carmine replied:

“They wanted me for the gig, but at the time, I was playing with Rod [Stewart], and we were playing 20,000-seat gigs. So, my publicist who worked for Warner Brothers, which was the label Sabbath was on, said to me, ‘Carmine, Sabbath is looking for a drummer. Would you consider it?’

Linear Drum Beats | Carmine Appice

“But at the time, Sabbath was not doing well, and they couldn’t even sell out one night at the same places Rod was selling out six nights at. So, for me, Black Sabbath was a much smaller gig. And with Rod, I had a percentage of the take, so that was good for me, too.

“So, at that point, I felt like Sabbath wasn’t a good gig for me, and I told my publicist I wasn’t interested. Now, from there, they listened to my brother’s album he did with Rick Derringer, and they loved his sound.

“So, connections were made, and when Tony Iommi met with Vinny, he said he was listening to that album constantly. In the end, it was good that Vinny got the gig because that started his career. Even though he had played with Rick Derringer, for Vinny, that was an important gig, and it gave him a huge leg up.”

Black Sabbath 1982. The Mob Rules Tour. Part 1. With Ronnie James Dio. Audio remastered. .

Asked what he would bring to the table if he decided to get the gig, Carmine replied:

“I might have brought some different drum sounds; I might have some songwriting stuff. In pretty much every band that I was with, I ended up getting involved with the songwriting, not only the drums.”

“There are some similarities between my style and my brothers, but I think there are a lot of differences, too. It’s known that I was an influence on Vinny, but he does his own thing. He hits the hell out of the drums, but then again, so do I [Laughs].”

Black Sabbath 1982 Live. The Mob Rules Tour. Part 2. With Ronnie James Dio. Audio remastered.

Going back to Black Sabbath’s early days, there was one incident involving them and Carmine Appice’s band Cactus. As the story goes, somebody from the Sabbath’s camp stole a bag of not-exactly-legal-substance from Cactus’ roadie. The two bands almost got into a serious fistfight over it. Asked whether the story was true, Appice replied:

“Oh, yeah. That’s true. Cactus did a gig at the very beginning at a club in Asbury Park, and somebody stole the bag of pot from our roadie. It was somebody on Sabbath’s side. I can’t say if it was one of the band members, but I also can’t say it wasn’t. [Laughs] We were going at it at first – we were all young guys with big heads – but later on, we got over it, and we all laughed about it years later. What’s also interesting about that show is that there was a band called when I was at it, we laughed about it.

Black Sabbath - Live at the Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Canada (1981)

Interestingly enough, the bill featured another rock legend on the bill. Appice added:

“Also, of note from that gig, on the same bill, there was a band called Steel Mill that featured Bruce Springsteen before anyone knew who the hell he was.

As years went on, Appice would end up joining Ozzy Osbourne’s band. However, as it was typical of Ozzy’s camp back in the day, Carmine didn’t last for long in the lineup and was eventually fired by the singer’s wife and manager Sharon Osbourne. Asked about how he got the gig with Ozzy, the drummer replied:

“They had Tommy Aldridge, but it wasn’t working. His tempo was off, his fills were all wrong, and the drums sounded awful, at least, that’s what I was told. So, they fired him, and I got the call.

, Ozzy Osbourne, Carmine Appice, Jake E. Lee performing live onstage

“I was in France; doing some work, and my manager said, ‘Carmine, Sharon Osbourne is on the phone; she wants to speak with you,’ and I said, ‘Uh oh. What did I do?’ So, I got on the phone, and she says, ‘We want you to join Ozzy’s band. Tommy isn’t working out, and we need a better drummer. Are you up for it?’

“I decided to give it a go, and she asked, ‘Can you go into the studio and finish the album and maybe help the drum sound out?’ I said, ‘Well, I don’t know… I’ll see what I can do.’

Reminded that he didn’t play on any of the studio material, Carmine responded:

“No, I didn’t. What happened was I went to England from France, and I met Bob Daisley and Jake E. Lee, and Don Airey, who I’d met and hung out with before. We went out to dinner, and Sharon was there, and she said, ‘We’re so happy to have you in the band.

Ozzy Tour - Sharon FIRED Me: "Your Name Is Too Big!"

“The plan is for you to come to New York, work on Tommy’s drums, and help fix some of what he did.’ So, I did that but didn’t play on it. And I was in New York with Ozzy, who Sharon left in my care, and it was just me and him at the hotel. I’d go to the studio every day with Ozzy, and we’d work on finishing his vocals.

“It was interesting because Ozzy was really fucked up at the time, and sometimes we’d literally have to do one or two words at a time. And then, I helped with the drum sound by messing with things and giving them more of an ambient sound, which made it sound a lot better than it initially was.

“I helped mix it after that and ended up with an associate production credit. My deal was supposed to be every time they sold 500,000 albums I would get a bonus. But I never got the bonus for the first 500,000.

Vanilla Fudge "Keep Me Hangin' On" on The Ed Sullivan Show

Asked whether this was what got him fired from Ozzy’s band, he said:

“Me not getting that bonus was where the problems started, yeah. Sharon didn’t like that I had my own publicist and my own merch. She didn’t like that I was doing master classes along the way on tour, which made me a bunch of money every day that had nothing to do with Ozzy.

“So, the tour accountant would pull my money from the pool, and Sharon didn’t like any of that. I was making all this cash money, and I’d give it to Ozzy’s tour accounts to put in the safe we had on the bus, and Sharon just didn’t like that.

Carmine Appice at Namm 2020

“Also, I was doing my own press, and I was big. Too big for Sharon’s liking. She wanted me to be a background guy to Ozzy, but I was never just a background guy. So, she fired me, and sadly, I ended up going to court with Ozzy.

“I didn’t want to do that, I wanted to stay with Ozzy, play drums on his next album, and help write songs, but that didn’t happen. So, even though I wasn’t getting the percentage, I was making good money on my own. Sharon couldn’t handle that, and she fired me over it.

Photos: Carl Lender (Tony Iommi at the New Haven Coliseum in 1978), Klaus Hiltscher (Carmine Appice with Beck Bogert and Appice (cropped))


  • 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.