On March 25, 1982, Ozzy Osbourne participated in the American talk show “Late Night with David Letterman”. At the end of the interview, the presenter addressed him with the following words: “I know that you recently went through a personal and professional tragedy in your life. Honestly, I was surprised that you agreed to come here today and I’m so grateful. If you want, take a minute to explain.”
Although he was visibly under the influence of drugs and trying to hold back tears, the singer shared, “I lost two of the most important people in my life.”
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Those people were guitarist Randy Rhoads and hairdresser Rachel Youngblood, who died in a plane crash on March 19 — yes, less than a week before the show.
Amid his grief, Ozzy considered abandoning music, interpreting the deaths as a sign that he should stop. However, that thought did not accompany him to the Ed Sullivan Theater that night:
“It’s not going to stop me because I love rock ‘n’ roll and rock is about people, and I love people. That’s why I make music. I’m going to continue because Randy would like it and Rachel would too. I’m not going to stop because no one can kill rock ‘n’ roll.”
Thus begins the story of “Bark at the Moon”.
The search for the perfect replacement
In order for Ozzy to continue, his first step was to find a new guitarist. In his autobiography “Eu Sou Ozzy” (Saraiva, 2010), he reports that the first name that came to mind was German Michael Schenker:
“I called him. He said something like, ‘I’ll do this, but I want a private jet, and this and that.’ I told him, ‘Why are you imposing these demands now? Just help me at the next show and we’ll talk.’ But he kept saying, ‘Oh, I’m going to need this and that.’ In the end, I said, ‘You know what? Go to hell’.”
The vacancy ended up being filled by Irishman Bernie Tormé, who had played with Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan’s solo band. In his book, Ozzy reflects on his first shows with Randy Rhoads’ understudy:
“Honestly, I don’t know how we did it. We were in a state of shock. But I think going on tour was better than sitting at home, thinking about the two amazing people we had lost and the fact that they were never coming back.”
Bernie didn’t last long, and Brad Gillis was hired to complete the tour. When he decided to return to his band, Night Ranger, after the end of the tour, Ozzy was forced to find a permanent replacement.
After conducting auditions in Los Angeles, he narrowed the list down to two finalists: George Lynch, from Dokken, and Jake E. Lee, from Rough Cutt. Although he was initially inclined to offer Lynch the spot, Ozzy changed his mind at the last minute and chose Lee.
It was a hard blow for George, who, married with two young children, thought his luck was finally changing. In an interview with Tom Beaujour and Richard Bienstock, authors of “Nöthin’ But a Good Time” (Estética Torta, 2022), the guitarist commented:
“I think the big problem [que me fez perder a vaga] It was cutting my hair short. I didn’t look like one of those rockers in magazines. But hey, I could have worn a wig. Ozzy himself was bald at the time!”
Although his wife and manager, Sharon—who Ozzy proposed to around the same time—agreed that Jake had better hair—“He had everything better than George,” she told Beaujour and Bienstock—the singer attributed it to choose on a purely musical basis:
“George Lynch is an excellent guitarist, but Jake E. Lee had more elegance when playing guitar.”
Jake’s first engagement with Ozzy was at the US Festival, in May 1983, in front of 350,000 spectators. We can say that it was a true baptism of fire for him.
The untold story behind the lyrics and songwriting
After the US Festival, Ozzy Osbourne, Jake E. Lee, bassist Bob Daisley and drummer Tommy Aldridge went to New York and began writing. In fact, Lee and Daisley began writing songs. In an interview with Guitar World in November 1986, the guitarist said:
“Most of the songs were mine: ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Rebel’, ‘Bark at the Moon’, ‘Now You See It (Now You Don’t)’, ‘Waiting for Darkness’ and ‘Slow Down’ were mine .”
Speaking to Ultimate Classic Rock in December 2013, Lee spoke specifically about the track that would end up giving the album its title:
“I remember I had the ‘Bark at the Moon’ riff and I played it, and it [Ozzy] I said, ‘Oh, I liked that.’ He already had the album title in mind. Then he said, ‘That’s the one that’s going to be ‘Bark at the Moon.’ He would come up with things like that out of nowhere and then get angry. Then he either blacked out or walked away, leaving Bob and me alone. We would stay in the studio and improve the songs. It was fun working with Bob. He wrote all the lyrics, [e é] a great lyricist.”
Around the time of “Bark at the Moon,” Sharon presented Jake and Bob with a contract that took away their songwriting and reproduction rights to the album. The document also prohibited them from speaking publicly on the matter. With a bit of a dead end, the two chose to sign, and that’s why the booklet for “Bark at the Moon” says “All songs by Ozzy Osbourne”. This is obviously not true.
Many people think that Ozzy wrote most of the lyrics he sings; they were led to believe this. In interviews, the singer always used the first person: “when I wrote that”. “It’s all a lie”, according to Daisley in an interview with BraveWords in May 2011:
“I remember Ozzy gave an interview to International Musician magazine, back in 1983 or 1984, and they asked him how he wrote those songs and he said ‘with one finger on the piano’. What a joke! Most people take it for granted that if someone is singing lyrics, they wrote them. That’s ridiculous.”
In the lyrics that Daisley gave up authorship of, there are jabs at people who judged, criticized and accused Ozzy of being a devil worshiper (“Rock ‘N’ Roll Rebel”, “You’re No Different”); a dig at Sharon Osbourne (“Now You See It (Now You Don’t)”); ideas borrowed from the Beatles (“Slow Down”) and The Kinks (“So Tired”); and a critique of hypocrisy within organized religion in “Waiting for Darkness,” which Bob discussed on his official website in April 2011:
“I wrote about brainwashing, mind control, pedophilia and manipulation through guilt, and that if this is what amounts to ‘light’ then I will wait for ‘darkness’. When Ozzy was asked what the song was about, his response was ‘a witch’. It seems he didn’t understand the lyrics I had written and he sang it, although he took credit for the composition.”
The emergence of the classic
The recording of “Bark at the Moon” took place at Ridge Farm Studios, in Rusper, England, with Max Norman on sound engineering and production. The rest of the album was finished at Power Station in New York, with Tony Bongiovi — Jon Bon Jovi’s cousin — handling most of the mixing.
Released on November 18, 1983 in the United States and on December 2, 1983 in the United Kingdom with changes in the tracklist — “Centre of Eternity” appears with the title “Forever” and “Spiders in the Night”, later renamed “Spiders”, instead of “Slow Down” —, “Bark at the Moon” would take less than two months to achieve gold record status (500 thousand copies sold). Currently, sales exceed three million copies.
The album’s release was followed by the typical touring frenzy. As the drum parts took a long time to complete, Sharon took revenge on Tommy Aldridge by firing him just before the band began its rotation. Carmine Appice, from Vanilla Fudge, took over the role in time to appear in the video for “Bark at the Moon”. However, due to his frequent lateness to soundchecks, he also ended up being fired.
Chaos on the road
From January to April 1984, the North American leg of the “Bark at the Moon” tour, which featured Los Angeles rock bad boys Mötley Crüe and notorious British boozers Waysted — a band led by former UFO bassist Pete Way — has spawned stories that Ozzy isn’t sure are true or false. “People ask me, ‘Did you really smell a line of ants?’ and I have no idea. It’s possible. I was crazy the whole time,” he recalls in “I Am Ozzy.”
In the liner notes to the 2002 remixed edition of “Bark at the Moon,” Ozzy recalls telling Mötley manager Doc McGhee, “Somebody’s going to die on this tour.” Shortly afterwards, Mötley singer Vince Neil killed Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle in a car accident. Regarding the opening band, the singer adds:
“They [Mötley Crüe] they were completely crazy. Which, obviously, I saw as a challenge (…) I felt like I needed to be crazier than them, or I wouldn’t be doing my part properly (…) The shows were the easy part. The problem was to survive among them (…) they dressed like girls, but lived like animals (…) Every night, bottles flew, knives were shown, chairs were smashed, noses were broken, properties were destroyed. It was as if madhouse and pandemonium came together, multiplied by chaos.”
Ozzy might laugh about it now, but by the end of the tour, he was miserable. At Sharon’s request, he entered the renowned Betty Ford Center rehabilitation clinic and stayed there for six weeks.
Ozzy and Jake E. Lee’s vision
Although “Bark at the Moon” gave Ozzy one of his biggest hits — the title track reached an impressive 12th place in the United States — the singer is keen to highlight how difficult it was to make the album:
“It was difficult because my dreams had been shattered [com a morte de Randy Rhoads]. It was one of those situations where you record an album, go on tour, record another one and do another tour, and you start to feel like a goddam rat in a wheel after a while.”
Jake E. Lee, in turn, tends to see the positive side:
“’Bark at the Moon’ was my first major recording, so it will always have a special place in my heart, and the fact that ‘Bark at the Moon’ [a música]which I wrote, is still an iconic song in Ozzy’s repertoire, it’s really cool.”
Ozzy Osbourne – “Bark at the Moon”
- Released November 15, 1983 by CBS
- Produced by Ozzy Osbourne, Bob Daisley and Max Norman
- Bark at the Moon
- You’re No Different
- Now You See It (Now You Don’t)
- Rock ‘N’ Roll Rebel
- Center of Eternity
- So Tired
- Slow Down
- Waiting for Darkness
- Ozzy Osbourne (vocals)
- Jake E. Lee (guitar, backing vocals)
- Bob Daisley (bass, backing vocals)
- Tommy Aldridge (drums)
- Don Airey (keyboards)
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