An Interview With Rudy Sarzo, Former Bassist For Ozzy Osbourne
Rudy Sarzo’s name has long been familiar to fans of ‘80s-era hard rock and heavy metal. After all, he was a member of Quiet Riot and Whitesnake and currently holds the bass position in Dio. But it was his stint with Ozzy Osbourne from 1981 through 1982 that fans ask him about most, because the late guitarist Randy Rhoads was his band mate.
Wanting to set the record straight about this time period, Sarzo has penned a book, “Off the Rails—My Adventures in the Land of Ozz,” which will be released in September via Cherry Lane.
“I kept a diary, like a journal,” Sarzo tells Billboard.com, “And I have the details of all those [tour] dates, mainly because my accountant at the time requested that I did. I would keep records of my travels for tax purposes. There’s so much misinformation about that period on the Internet. I think somebody probably grabbed an old itinerary, and just went by that as ‘These are the dates.’ At the time, there were a lot of cancellations and rescheduling, especially after the accident.”
Said accident remains one of the most tragic in rock history. On March 19, 1982, Rhoads, then only 25 years old and being heralded as rock’s next guitar hero, boarded a small plane piloted by the band’s bus driver (while the rest of the band slept on the bus), in Leesburg, Fla. In flight, the plane clipped the bus and crashed into a nearby house, killing Rhoads and two others.
“The spookiest thing looking back at it, I got a chill when I got to March 19th [in the journal and] it’s missing,” explains Sarzo. “It was like, ‘Wow.’ Having to go back in my head and walk down those corridors, because a lot of this stuff, it still is hard to talk about it, because people ask me about [it]. Every time I tell the account of what happened that day, I have to relive it. And it’s so hard. That’s one of the reasons why I wrote it, so I don’t have to talk about it anymore, you know what I mean? If you really want to know what happened, just read that chapter, if anything.”
But the book does not focus solely on the tragedy, as Sarzo was on the road with Osbourne and Rhoads for a year beforehand. “There was so much joy—as a matter of fact, it was basically a very joyful journey up until the crash,” he says. “Randy meant so much [and] still means so much to everybody, that it changed all our lives. And this book is not only written for Randy but it’s also written for the fans. This book is for every single fan that has ever come up to me and asked, ‘What was Randy Rhoads really like?’ or ‘What was it like playing with Ozzy?’ I just cannot put it into a couple of sentences. I had to put it into many, many chapters.”
The book will also include many candid, previously unseen photos of the band. And while Rhoads only played on a pair of Osbourne studio albums (1980’s “Blizzard of Oz” and 1981’s “Diary of a Madman”), fans have long wondered if there are any unreleased Rhoads-era gems or demos gathering dust in a vault somewhere.
Sarzo sets the record straight: “No, nothing. Nowadays, everybody carries some kind of recording equipment with them on tour. In those days, we were limited to those little micro-cassettes. Walkmans did not record then, at least the ones that we had—we’re talking 1981/early ‘82.”
Source: Greg Prato, N.Y / Billboard.com