Would OZZY OSBOURNE Be Open To Making A New Song With AI-Generated RANDY RHOADS? He Responds

December 5, 2023

During a wide-ranging discussion on the latest episode of "The Osbournes" podcast, Ozzy Osbourne was asked if he would ever consider possibly making a song with a artificial intelligence (AI)-generated version of his late guitarist Randy Rhoads, and if not Randy, maybe another rock star like John Lennon (THE BEATLES),or somebody that Ozzy's always looked up to. Ozzy replied (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I haven't considered it yet, but as far as me doing something like what the remaining BEATLES did with the John Lennon thing," referencing the recently released "Now And Then", featuring the voices of all four original BEATLES performers, with surviving members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr essentially finishing what was initially an old demo recording by John Lennon, "that was a partial song and they cleaned the track up. I don't think I have anything left of Randy Rhoads."

Ozzy's wife and manager Sharon chimed in: "No, there's nothing left that was properly recorded. There's just like a couple of silly cassettes floating around that [people] go, 'This is wonderful stuff.' A cassette from 40 years ago is not gonna be great, taken from a rehearsal room."

When Ozzy and Sharon's son Jack asked if Ozzy would be open to using AI to study the way Randy Rhoads played and make a new song in a similar style, Ozzy said: "Well, you know what? I'm open for anything, if it was good quality. 'Cause, let's face it, that BEATLES thing, 'Now And Then', wasn't a BEATLES song; it was a John Lennon song."

"The thing with AI, you can go, 'Make me a new album.' … But that's the future," Ozzy said. "The music scene's gonna be completely different."

Asked if it makes him nervous, Ozzy said simply: "No."

As for Sharon, she said that she is definitely worried about people creating new music using generative AI. "Of course, but it's, like, look, now everything, a lot, you can say half, well, a quarter of the music industry is done on computers anyway, not even in studios. … So it's just gone from one computer to another," she explained. "But I don't like the idea of it at all."

Ozzy added: "The cat's out of the bag. You can't undo it. The danger is people will misuse it. Because I'll get like a formula for a song and I'll put that formula in and I'll keep on doing that."

Circling back to "Now And Then" which, in part, used artificial intelligence to separate out Lennon's original vocals before incorporating McCartney and Starr's musical additions in the studio last year, Ozzy said: "Oh, it's great. When I first heard it, I thought, 'What the fuck is this?' But then I heard it again and again. I have to listen to it every day now. But the only thing about that, it made me want more. It made me go, 'Oh, fuck.' And what it's done, it's rehashed all the old Lennon stuff, THE BEATLES stuff."

This past September, QUEEN's Brian May spoke about the dangers of artificial intelligence as it relates to creating music, telling Guitar Player magazine: "My major concern with it now is in the artistic area. I think by this time next year the landscape will be completely different. We won't know which way is up. We won't know what's been created by AI and what's been created by humans. Everything is going to get very blurred and very confusing, and I think we might look back on 2023 as the last year when humans really dominated the music scene. I really think it could be that serious, and that doesn't fill me with joy. It makes me feel apprehensive, and I'm preparing to feel sad about this.

"I think a lot of great stuff will come from AI, because it is going to increase the powers of humans to solve problems," he continued. "But the potential for AI to cause evil is, obviously, incredibly huge — not just in music, 'cause nobody dies in music, but people can die if AI gets involved in politics and world domination for various nations. I think the whole thing is massively scary. It's much more far-reaching than anybody realized — well, certainly than I realized."

May is not the only rock musician who has expressed his concern and/or excitement about the potential risks, challenges and benefits associated with the widespread adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. During a recent appearance on "Piers Morgan Uncensored", KISS bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons was asked if he is "excited or worried about artificial intelligence, particularly [as it relates to] the music business." He responded: "Music business aside, I am concerned about the lack of legislation. When you enter a new, let's say a new planet, you're about to land on a new [planet], well, clearly there's opportunity there, there are minerals and things — all kinds of opportunities. Without rules of the game… It's like playing sports without rules. Who's gonna do what? You need some rules that are kind and beneficial to mankind, womankind, transkind, all kinds of kinds. Okay, does that cover everybody?"

He continued: "The problem with AI is not… AI is here, whether you like it or not. So let's look at it smartly and let's pass legislation. AI creates a song using my voice, or what sounds like my voice, with a new song, and it sounds just like me and it definitely sounds like that kind of a thing. So when you buy it, who owns the copyright and the publishing, if AI did that? So, is it me, because it sounds like me? You could swear it was me. So these are uncharted [territories]."

Asked if he cares if AI uses his voice to create a new song, Gene said: "We can make a deal."

In an interview with Canada's The Metal Voice, VOIVOD drummer Michel "Away" Langevin said: "Technology, I will always try to use it as much as I can, [including] for my visuals and all that. AI videos, I'm jealous because it would take me three thousand years to do it frame by frame. But what I'm most afraid of, really, is AI controlling high-tech weaponry; that's my main fear. And it's funny because in the '70s, as a kid, I saw a movie called 'Colossus[: The Forbin Project]' about that — about a giant super computer in the USA teaming up with a giant super computer in Russia. They take control of the nuclear weapons and enslave humanity."

This past April, Universal Music had a song called "Heart On My Sleeve", which used deep-faked vocals from their artists Drake and The Weeknd, removed from the streaming services, claiming in a statement that "the training of generative AI using our artists' music" was "a violation of copyright law".

Pop singer Grimes, whose real name is Claire Boucher, recently said she would "split 50% royalties on any successful AI-generated song that uses my voice". "Same deal as I would with any artist I collab[orate] with. Feel free to use my voice without penalty," she tweeted.

In a May 2023 discussion on Decrypt's "gm" podcast about the music industry's reaction to a spate of AI songs trained on artists' voices, AVENGED SEVENFOLD singer M. Shadows said that he was enthused about the possibilities, saying that "AI can be incredibly useful" for songwriters.

"If you're looking at purely this data brick of taking information and regurgitating it to us in some way, whether it's through music or art or novels, literature — whatever it is — you're basically taking everything humans have ever done or discovered and you're giving it to this thing that can distribute it to you quicker and in a different way, can mix it up and do it in a different way," he explained. "So now you're using AI to not only spark ideas but you're using it in a much quicker way to kind of get to some of these cool little nuggets of gold that you kind of are, like, 'Oh, that's cool. Let me see where I can take that.' So that's not really AI writing a song for you; it's kind of giving you this kind of jumping-off point of, 'Now where can I be creative with it?' And I think that will be the next step."

In an interview with Australian Musician editor Greg Phillips, former MEGADETH guitarist Marty Friedman stated about people using AI in music: "There's gotta be something positive in it. And regardless of whether we're fearful of technology or not, it's gonna be a reality — period. So I think we can fight it all the way and there's been guys in the music business fighting analog and digital forever."

He continued: "It's kind of nostalgic to think of the days when everything was analog and you sat down and you listened to a whole album from beginning to end and it's wonderful and people can still enjoy that, but technology has allowed you and I to talk like this, technology has allowed Pro Tools to happen, which has created some of the best ideas for recording in history."

Friedman added: "We just can't fight it all the way because it's like spitting against heaven; it's not gonna mean anything. So AI, I think its best years are yet to come. It hasn't really done anything that's kicked my ass yet. Of what I've seen, it's just been kind of cute little funny little mashups and stuff, nothing I'd want to sit down and listen to an album of, but technology and AI and all that stuff is a reality. It's not going away, for better or for worse. So the sooner we accept it and accept how we can not only live with it, but benefit by it, the healthier we can all enjoy our lives rather than being some old guy just saying, 'I hate this stuff.' It's really easy to fall into that, especially from people of a previous generation, because we know how good it was back then. There's a lot of crap now because of technology, and it's easy to hate on all that stuff, but it's not going away. So what's the benefit in being negative about it?"

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