I often wonder if Ozzy himself reflects on his history of guitarists. I know I have on several occasions. I have also wondered about other guitarists and how they would have fit in Ozzy’s band. Let’s look at the history of Ozzy’s guitarists and then we’ll imagine some other players and see what we think.
RANDY RHOADS 1979 – 1982
Blizzard of Ozz (1980), Diary of a Madman (1981), Tribute (1987)
Any fan of Ozzy knows of Randy. When the world first got their ears filled with the sounds of Randy’s guitars they knew everything had changed. It is in my opinion that Randy changed the game forever.
“Crazy Train” -Randy version
BERNIE TORME 1982
No albums made with Ozzy
Bernie was the immediate successor to Randy following his death. Big shoes to fill as he was hired to play makeup dates, and he was playing through Randy’s gear, AND he had to learn all of the songs in a week. Bernie only stayed on tour for three weeks before leaving to form his own band.
“Crazy Train” – Bernie version
BRAD GILLIS 1982 – 1983
Speak of the Devil (1982)
Brad came in following the departure of Bernie. He filled in and recorded a live album with Ozzy before leaving for Night Ranger.
“Crazy Train” – Brad version
JAKE E LEE 1983- 1987
Bark At The Moon (1983), The Ultimate Sin (1986)
Jake E Lee was in the running with George Lynch for the coveted spot. He obviously won out which I think was good move for Ozzy as Jake seemed suited for his band. We got some good songs from the Jake E Lee lineup as well.
“Crazy Train” – Jake E Lee version
ZAKK WYLDE 1987–1992, 1995, 1998, 2002–2004, 2006–2009
1988: No Rest For The Wicked, 1990: Just Say Ozzy (live album), 1991: No More Tears, 1993: Live & Loud (live album), 1995: Ozzmosis, 2001: Down to Earth, 2002: Live At Budokan (live album), 2007: Black Rain
Zakk Wylde (he seems to make a lot of my blog posts) was, in my opinion, Ozzy’s strongest guitarist. The successful period with Zakk cannot be ignored. The writing combination of Zakk/Ozzy made some of the most memorable in Ozzy’s career.
“Crazy Train” – Zakk Wylde version
STEVE VAI 1994
After one of Zakk’s departures Steve filed in temporarily for Ozzy. Vai began writing and recording with Ozzy Osbourne. One track from these sessions, “My Little Man”, was released on the Ozzmosis album. Despite Vai penning the track, he does not appear on the album.
No video found.
ALEX SKOLNICK 1995
No recordings made
Alex had a brief stay in supporting Ozzy and not much else was done other than that.
“Crazy Train” – Alex version
JOE HOLMES 1995–1998, 1999–2001
Song “Walk on Water” From Beavis and Butt-Head Do America Soundtrack (1996)
In 1995, after Ozzy Osbourne had finished recording the Ozzmosis album, a replacement for Zakk Wylde was needed for the tour. Joe got a call from Dean Castronovo (Oz’s drummer) to let him know they were seeking a guitar player. Joe went down to Audible studios in Los Angeles and played three Ozzy classics. Holmes did not mention that he had taken lessons from Randy Rhoads as he thought it would hurt his chances at the job.
“Crazy Train” – Joe Holmes version
JERRY CANTRELL 2004–2006
Under Cover (2005)
Jerry did Ozzy’s cover album for him and it was a damn fine job. If you haven’t heard it you should definitely check it out.
No video found
GUS G 2009-present
Gus was brought in when Ozzy and Zakk parted ways. Ozzy was trying to get away from what he perceived as a blurring of the lines between himself and the BLS sound. We shall see what becomes of writing future records with Gus. More power to him!
“Crazy Train” – Gus G version
Whew! What an impressive list of players! But what if Ozzy had tapped Dime, EVH, Herman Li, Buckethead, John5, or DJ Ashba? Something to think about…..thanks for playing!
P.S. thanks A.J. Greene