Cameron Edney from Inside_Out666 recently conducted an in-depth interview with legendary bassist Bob Daisley (OZZY OSBOURNE, RAINBOW, URIAH HEEP, GARY MOORE). Several excerpts from the interview follow:
Inside_Out666: I have heard that Ronnie James Dio is a very hard man to work with. Did you find this working with him in RAINBOW?
Bob Daisley: "Not in RAINBOW so much because I think everybody accepted the fact that it was Ritchie's band, it started off being called RITCHIE BLACKMORE'S RAINBOW and then by the time the second album was released they had dropped the Ritchie Blackmore bit and just billed it as RAINBOW, but it was really Ritchie's band.
"I did a few shows with Ronnie at the end of 1998. He called me because he needed a bass player as his bass player at the time couldn't do the Scandinavian tour. Ronnie had asked me to do it. So I sat at home with some of the records and went through the tracks and then rehearsed with them. I flew to London, Ronnie was doing a show there the day I arrived which I went to and had a look at. The following night we flew to Scandinavia and did a show there. I was still jet lagged and as my dad had just died I wasn't in a great frame of mind, but Ronnie was OK to work with, I mean, he's quite particular in what he wants but he didn't seem much different to me to the time we spent together in RAINBOW. I suppose it depends on the individual, the situation etc."
Inside_Out666: Going back to the song writing, every artist has their own way of writing and composing. The fantastic list of songs that you have written during your time with OZZY OSBOURNE alone is endless let alone your contributions in URIAH HEEP, GARY MOORE and so on. For you what comes first the music or the lyrics?
Bob Daisley: "Well, sometimes I get lyrical ideas and I think 'Ahh! There's a good idea,' and just jot it down, and sometimes we might be working out chords or riffs and you think, 'Ahh! Those lyrics that I jotted down that day might fit with this.' A lot of the time you just come up with riffs and then you think well what should this song be about, the attitude of the song, 'Maybe this' or 'Let's make it about that,' and then you might write lyrics for it after that.
"With a lot of the Ozzy stuff, no matter what guitar player it was, whether it was Randy [Rhoads], Jake [E. Lee] or Zakk [Wylde] or whoever it was, we would sit down and work out a lot of the music first and then Ozzy would come in. Ozzy's quite good at vocal melodies but he doesn't write lyrics. So he would just sing any old nonsense over the top of the music that we had written and then I'd take tapes away of his melodies and his phrasing then I'd write lyrics to it.
"Some of the content of it I came up with and sometimes he'd just have a title and he'd say, 'Oh, I've got this title, write it about this.' I remember there was one of the songs from 'The Ultimate Sin' called 'Thank God for the Bomb' and I thought, 'Well, what the fuck do you write that about, it sounds like a warmonger or something. What I wrote it about was that it's the one thing that’s stopping major wars.
Inside_Out666: It's really funny I would have thought that now Ozzy was out on his own, he would have contributed a lot more in the way of writing lyrics?
Bob Daisley: "No, not at all, he's never been a lyricist even when he was in BLACK SABBATH. Geezer wrote all the lyrics. You know he would come up with one line like in 'Suicide Solution'. I came up with the title and I came up with what it was going to be about, it was about him."
Inside_Out666: Oh, really? It’s funny you say that because a few days back I was watching Ozzy's video "Don't Blame Me" where he says he wrote "Suicide Solution" about Bon Scott (AC/DC)?
Bob Daisley: "He's a fuck. He didn't write it. I know what I wrote it about. Ozzy, at the time, had been kicked out of BLACK SABBATH and this was our first album. Ozzy was drinking himself to death. He would start drinking at lunch time and carry on all through the afternoon into the evening. Sometimes when we were writing, Randy and I would go looking for him and there he'd be passed out in front of the fireplace, pissed himself, comatose. 'Yeah, this is really productive' [laughs]. 'You keep that up, Ozzy, [and] we're gonna get fuck-all done & you're gonna kill yourself.' Ozzy came up with the first line, which I think is from something else, anyway, it's not even his but he did say it, and that was 'Wine is fine but whiskey's quicker.' That was the only line he came up with and I wrote the rest of the song about him as a warning to killing himself with alcohol. Bon Scott did die during the recording of that album in 1980. I remember hearing about Bon. It was horrible, he was a mate of mine. I would certainly admit to it if I had written it about Bon Scott because we were friends but I wrote it about Ozzy. It's blatant what he does, you know, in interviews and things. 'Well, when I wrote this and when I wrote that.' That's bullshit, Ozzy, and you know it!"
Inside_Out666: I personally believe that both albums are Ozzy's best stuff closely followed by "No More Tears". But on those two albums in particular you spent a lot of time with Randy Rhoads writing and recording. If there is one person I would love to know more about, it's Randy. Can you tell us what it was like working with Randy during that time and what he was like to hang out with?
Bob Daisley: "I first met Randy in Jet Records office in London in 1979. What happened was I met Ozzy in a club in London one night. There was a band on called GIRL and I went to see them with a mate of mine because I knew they were signed to Jet Records. I'd been with Jet Records while I was in WIDOWMAKER and I was out of RAINBOW looking for something to do and I thought if I go along to see GIRL tonight at least I'll know people there from Jet Records. Ozzy was signed to Jet Records, he'd been signed with BLACK SABBATH and then BLACK SABBATH fired him but Jet Records kept Ozzy and not SABBATH.
"So, anyway, one of the Jet Records blokes introduced me to Ozzy, and Ozzy said, 'I want to put a band together, I've heard good things about you I know you've come from RAINBOW. Would you be interested?' I said, 'Yeah, certainly.'
"Ozzy and I got on great. A couple of days later, I got a phone call from Jet Records asking me to go up to Ozzy's place. At the time Ozzy was living in Stafford, he came to the station to meet me, picked me up in his car and we drove back to his house and he had a couple of mates there just local musicians, we had a bit of a play and Ozzy and I got on really well together.
"Ozzy phoned Arthur Sharpe from Jet Records, he was the one who introduced us, and I still remember Ozzy's words, 'Oh, yeah, Bob, and I get on like a house on fire, the fire brigades just left.' I had said to Ozzy, 'If you want to get really serious about this and you want it to be world-class, I don't think those other two guys are world-class. They're OK, they're nice blokes and they play OK, but I don't think it'll work out. Ozzy said, 'Hang on a minute.' He had this rehearsal room at the side of his house and he walked into where they were and said, 'Hey, fellas, it's not working out. Pack up, you can go home.' [laughs] Just like that.
"He came up to me and he said, 'I know this great guitar player in L.A. His name's Randy Rhoads.' He said he's a guitar teacher. When he said he was a guitar teacher I had envisioned this older guy with a pipe and wearing slippers and an old dressing gown on [laughs] teaching kids to play.
"They flew Randy over to London, I went into Jet Records and met Randy. I think he was 22 then and we went up on a train to Ozzy's house in Stafford. One thing that still sticks in my mind from then was we had a bit of a play together and we knew something was happening it was gelling. Randy and I looked at each other right at the same time and said to each other, 'Oh, I like the way you play.' We started putting ideas together, there weren't any lyrics and Ozzy was just sort of singing tunes over the top of what we were comin up with musically. We started auditioning drummers as we were writing the stuff as well so we were trying to get things happening while we had drummers sit in with us and some of them were good they just weren't right.
"We would go to rehearsal places, they were live-in places where you could rehearse day and night if you wanted to and you could live there. I remember staying at one of the places and it was called Transam Trucking, and I came down the next morning and Ozzy and Randy were there and they had some words put together for one of the songs on the first album. I can't remember what song it was they had spent ages on it and they had about four lines written. I read them and thought, 'God, these are fuckin awful. I better write the lyrics.'
"So I wore the lyricist hat only because Randy wasn't a lyricist and neither was Ozzy, and I thought, 'I don't want to be part of embarrassing lyrics' [laughs]. So off we went and rehearsed, started putting lyrics together and right at the very end we had Lee Kerslake audition and he was the last drummer we had on the list and we thought, 'Let's hope he's good and if he didn't work out then the record company was saying, 'We need to get you in the studio to do the album, it's getting later and later.'
"So, if Lee didn't work out we probably would have gone into the studio with somebody like Cozy Powell, somebody who could have done a good enough session on the album.
"But as soon as Lee started playing, Randy and I looked at each other and thought 'Thank fuck, where's he been.' Lee was drummer number thirty nine that we had auditioned, loads of them we auditioned. Each day we had 4–5 drummers come in.
"Jet Records would phone us up and say, 'Well, we've got another list for ya. So and so at two o'clock, someone else at three, someone else at four,' but Lee worked out great, he was perfect for the band he was just what we wanted.
"Randy's mum owned a music school and Randy started playing at the age of five which is one the reasons he was so good at it. Having the classical background really helped with Randy's style of rock guitar playing. Most rock guitar players have had a rock or blues orientated background where Randy had a lot of classical stuff mixed in there, which helped with a lot of chord structures and unusual things for rock music. We used to call Randy 'Mal' it was short for malnutrition [laughs] he was really skinny, he had an athletic build and we used to call his girlfriend Jodie 'Anna' short for anorexia but they were both really nice and they really suited each other. Randy was a very gentle person he was never aggressive or loud. He was sarcastic at times and he would take the piss out of people without them really knowing. Randy had a very dry sense of humour; he wasn't your typical pie-in-the-face American. Sometimes we would go out to restaurants and I remember one time we were in Ridge farm in Surrey England, Randy, Lee Kerslake and I went down near Brighton on the coast and there was a model railway exhibition. Randy was into model trains and so was I, so the three of us went down to see this railway exhibition. I think I’ve got photos of that with trains running in front of Randy [laughs].
"The first time Randy and I ever went to Ozzy's house to play together, I remember standing on Stafford station with Randy and at this time nobody had a clue what was gonna happen with the band, how big it was going to be or if we were going to have any success at all. All of a sudden, I had this thought that one day people were going to continuously ask me 'What was Randy like?' 'What was it like to play with Randy?' 'What was he really like?' I didn't know at the time why I was having these thoughts. It must have been a premonition of things to come."
Inside_Out666: During the middle of the "Diary of a Madman" tour I believe Lee and yourself were fired?
Bob Daisley: "No, it was only about three or four days after we finished recording the album. I'll go back to what the band was about, and that is the band was called BLIZZARD OF OZZ, it wasn't called the OZZY OSBOURNE BAND or just OZZY OSBOURNE solo band it was a band called BLIZZARD OF OZZ. Ozzy's father came up with the idea of it and Ozzy told us about it. We thought, 'At least that sounds like a band.' See, the record company was saying to us, 'Well, just call the act OZZY or the OZZY OSBOURNE BAND.' We said 'Fuck that, it doesn't sound like a band,' and we wanted something that sounded like a band. The record company has said, 'Well, on the first album we need to use the name Ozzy Osbourne.' We all said, 'We don't mind if you put the BLIZZARD OF OZZ in big writing and underneath it 'featuring Ozzy Osbourne.' We don't mind that.' We can utilize the fact that it's Ozzy's voice and that he's come from SABBATH and all that. So what did they do? They fucked us over. They put OZZY OSBOURNE in big writing and in smaller writing the BLIZZARD OF OZZ which made it look like an OZZY OSBOURNE record called the 'Blizzard of Ozz'. We thought, 'You cunts.'"
Inside_Out666: So really it’s an album with no name?
Bob Daisley: "[Laughs] Well, the first album was just supposed to be called 'Blizzard of Ozz' like BAD COMPANY's first album was just called 'Bad Company' and LED ZEPPELIN's first album was just called 'Led Zeppelin'. So when it came time to do the second album actually I came up with the title 'Diary of a Madman'. I still remember where I was. I was walking up Holland Park Ave near Holland Park where I lived in London with Ozzy and we were walking up to the shops and I said, 'I've got a good name for the next album,' and he said, 'What's that?' I said 'Diary of a Madman'. 'Oh, that's fuckin great. I love that. You come up with good things.' So I came up with that title and obviously wrote all the words for all the songs on the album. See, Sharon was on the scene then and Ozzy and Sharon were heavily involved with each other while he was married. The whole vibe of the band had changed; it wasn't like a band anymore.
"Sharon was all 'I'm gonna promote Ozzy. It's going to be OZZY OSBOURNE, that's the name the act will be called.' It was all Ozzy, Ozzy, Ozzy. I think she wanted to keep Randy and promote him as a separate entity as well and make it the Ozzy show but they didn’t hint at anything until they got the album out of us written and recorded. Then about 2–3 days after we finished recording the album, we thought 'Well, we'll be going to America soon to start the tour,' and I got a phone call from Sharon just saying, 'You and Lee are out.' Just like that. So I said, 'Wait a minute, it's our band.' 'No, not anymore.' What about our royalties? 'End of story,' she says, and I said, 'We'll see about that,' and I went to a lawyer and we sued them. We got money out of Jet Records and Don Arden, Sharon's father. It finally went to court in 1986 and we got a pay-out. We thought our royalties would continue, but they didn't, and that's why we had to sue them again later."
Inside_Out666: Speaking of that lawsuit; is it still going or is it over?
Bob Daisley: "Well, it's over for the minute unless new information comes up or something different happens. See we went to the Supreme Court in America and we got denied a trial. We went to the lawyers at the end of '97 in L.A. and our lawyers said, 'You've got a really good case here,' and we should have won. The first three years, the judge that was involved in the case was saying to us, 'Go for it.' Every issue that came up she kept in (it was a female judge), and then out of the blue after three fuckin years, we didn't have a case. This from the same judge who has been behind us all this time. So I don't know if money changed hands or if strings had been pulled or backs had been scratched, but it was right at the time that 'The Osbournes' show became really big, right at the time that the Osbournes became richer than ever and more connected than ever all of a sudden we didn't have a case."
Inside_Out666: Actually with you bringing that up it makes me curious to know why you went back and continued to work with Ozzy?
Bob Daisley: "Well, that's a bit of a long story but I will give you a brief outline of what happened. In '82, when Lee and I got fired after the 'Diary' thing, we were suing Don Arden and Jet Records. Ozzy and Sharon had a big fallout with Jet Records and Don Arden, her father, so they came to us and said, 'We will help you in your lawsuit against Jet Records, we will confirm that you’re supposed to get royalties,' and they had meetings with our lawyers and so I thought, 'Oh, good, they are going to help us.' In 1983 we used to go out for dinners etc, they were helping us but I didn't realize what scumbags they were because unbeknownst to us, in 1983 they bought the rights to Ozzy's catalogue from Jet Records. So they were receiving our royalties and they didn’t even tell us [laughs]. We were still suing Don Arden and Jet Records, so we ended up suing the wrong people but he did end up paying us out up to the point in time that he owned the catalogue. But after that they were getting our royalties and we didn't know, we didn't even find out until the Nineties. They were being sly and deceitful by pretending to help us but at the same time in July '83 they bought Ozzy from Jet Records and Don Arden. I've seen the contracts. People say, 'Well, why did you go back and work with them if you knew?' But we didn't know they were getting our royalties. What we did know was that we beat Don Arden in court in 1986 and we got a payout and then we knew that he went bankrupt and he had no fuckin dough and we thought, 'Well, where are our royalties going? Maybe he's stealing our royalties and he's paying off his bankruptcy fees.' We didn't know that the Osbournes were getting them the whole time."
For the rest of the interview, visit Inside_Out666.