photo & text by nacrowe
i came to OZZY OSBOURNE late in the game. when i was 15 i went alone to OZZFEST in 1999 and saw him play with a reunited and all-original BLACK SABBATH. which was basically as close to a religious experience as i have ever come to know, with the exception of seeing a FLAMENGO futbol game at the MARACANA stadium in RIO DE JANIERO (now that was insane!). SABBATH had a more relaxed, dare i say groovy, vibe than what was on offer that day: which included ROB ZOMBIE, SLAYER, DEFTONES, SYSTEM OF A DOWN, FEAR FACTORY and the national touring debuts of STATIC-X and a little band from IOWA called SLIPKNOT. by the time i came back the following year with my brother and saw OZZY play solo (with support from PANTERA, SOULFLY, INCUBUS and QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE), i was among the converted.
whereas SABBATH records had those epic, thundering MT. OLYMPUS godlike riffs from guitar-lord TONY IOMMI and that BLUES-rock, and even jazzy, rhthym section that actually swung, OZZY's solo band on his debut BLIZZARD OF OZZ (JET, 1980) is all pyrotechnics and virtuosic guitar heroics courtesy of the legendary RANDY RHOADS. its crazy to think that OZZY had stumbled upon such amazing talent not once but twice in his career. but yeah, the singular musical range and compositional talent of RHOADS is on full display throughout BLIZZARD OF OZZ from the blazing riffage of "I DON'T KNOW," "SUICIDE SOLUTION" and "CRAZY TRAIN" to more introspective, multi-part ballads like "GOODBYE TO ROMANCE," "REVELATION (MOTHER EARTH)" and of course, "MR. CROWLEY." in terms of his solo career and the trajectory of METAL in the 1980s, both good and bad, it is arguably the work of RHOADS (as well as EDDIE VAN HALEN) that set the course for the decade. you can hear the arpeggiated riffs and composed neoclassical guitar leads/solos all over records by THRASH METAL bands like METALLICA and SLAYER as well later acolytes in PANTERA.
i know people like to slight OZZY for his vocal limitations, especially when compared to peers in RONNIE JAMES DIO and ROB HALFORD, but i think that misses the point. OZZY to me represents an everyman and his voice is less operatic and more human. more street level and oddly, more authentic to what he is singing about: commonly themes revolving around ADDICTION, RELIGION, LOSS OF CONTROL and the OCCULT. and i do feel his voice plays into his preternatural ability in relating such to a METAL audience he largely created. for me, the BLIZZARD OF OZZ record was arguably the most effective effort he ever made, because it was something only he could do. its definitively him.
rest in peace, RANDY RHOADS.