Detroit Rock Blog recently conducted an interview with bass veteran Rudy Sarzo (OZZY OSBOURNE, WHITESNAKE, QUIET RIOT, DIO, BLUE ÖYSTER CULT). A couple of exceprts from the chat follow below.
Detroit Rock Blog: You were a member of QUIET RIOT at the peak of their success. You were also a member of WHITESNAKE at the peak of their success. How were the two experiences different?
Sarzo: Good question. Very, very different. QUIET RIOT was a band I was a member of from the very beginning. I was member through the Randy Rhoads era and through the "Metal Health" era. And both (versions of) QUIET RIOT struggled to make it to the very very top. We're talking about rejection from record companies even after the album "Metal Health" was completed. We saw rejection from the industry in Los Angeles because nobody thought that record or even that genre of music was going to do anything. We're talking 1982-83. We had that record done in '82 and it was ready to hit the streets in March of 1983. From the moment we finished the record to the moment it was ready to be released by the label, we couldn't find management. So we had to beg our old manager to come back and manage us. Nobody thought the band was going to do anything. So they were different situations, coming from the very, VERY bottom with QUIET RIOT to the very top. Whereas with WHITESNAKE we went to the peak in the U.S., WHITESNAKE was a very popular band already in Europe, South America, and Asia all the other major markets except for the United States. Matter of fact, WHITESNAKE was the opening act for QUIET RIOT in 1984, which was the last tour that I did with QUIET RIOT, the "Condition Critical" tour. With WHITESNAKE it was different because all of the members had previously tasted success. Tommy with Ozzy, then Pat Travers, and BLACK OAK ARKANSAS. Vivian Campbell with DIO. Adrian Vandenberg with his own band VANDENBERG. And myself. We knew how blessed we were to be in the incredible situation to be playing in WHITESNAKE, because we were all refugees from other situations.
Detroit Rock Blog: Who was more difficult to work for: David Coverdale, Yngwie Malmsteen, or Ozzy Osbourne?
Sarzo: Oh, wow! None of the above. They were all a pleasure to work with. It's funny, because Yngwie had the worst reputation, but he was a sweetheart. Truly professional, truly inspiring. Ozzy was great. David was great.
Detroit Rock Blog: In response to that, several of the people you've played with have reputations for being substance abusing egomaniacs. How is it possible that you have been so successfully working with such a variety of people with "difficult" reputations?
Sarzo: Maybe by the time I got to play with Yngwie, he had changed his attitude. When I was working with him, it was the "Attack" tour 2004. His wife, April, she manages him. She was on the road with us. She was taking care of all the business. And his son, Antonio, was on the tour with us. He was a happy, fulfilled man. He had his family with him on the road. And his band and he was playing his music every night. I can't think of a more rewarding experience than that. He was great.
Detroit Rock Blog: Did Tawny Kitaen ruin WHITESNAKE?
Sarzo: No. I don't think any woman can actually ruin a band. I think the man himself has to be influenced. Look, women are not the only ones that ruin bands. Male influences that can influence a band or certain people. But it's up to the individual whether or not to allow influences from people outside of the band. I didn't think that Tawny or anybody can break up a band. It's like the old saying — "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."
Detroit Rock Blog: With all the bands you've played with over your storied career, which experience has been the most rewarding ?
Sarzo: They're so different. They all have different meanings. Playing with Ozzy, Randy and Tommy [Aldridge]. And Sharon (Osbourne),I learned a lot from her. That was the most incredibly significant because it was the first time. I went from sleeping on a floor to playing with Ozzy Osbourne. It was that journey from the bottom to the very top. Sometimes it's the journey that you remember the most. It's how you got to the top that was the most rewarding. And, again with QUIET RIOT, another journey to the top. Going from opening up for a bunch of bands in 1983 to seeing "Metal Health" go to No. 1 on Billboard. With WHITESNAKE it was different because all of the members had previously tasted success. Tommy with Ozzy, then Pat Ravers, BLACK OAK ARKANSAS. Vivian Campbell with DIO. Adrian Vandenberg with his own band VANDENBERG. And myself. We knew how blessed we were to be in the incredible situation to be playing in WHITESNAKE, because we were all refugees from other situations.
Read the entire interview at Detroit Rock Blog.