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Former Ozzy guitarist, Jake E Lee, clears up the past and moves forward

Jake E Lee gives some insight on working with Ozzy and how it led him to carry on to manage his own bands.
 Jake E Lee (front, middle) in his bad, Red Dragon Cartel. (Image courtesy of Red Dragon Cartel.)

Jake E Lee (front, middle) in his bad, Red Dragon Cartel. (Image courtesy of Red Dragon Cartel.)

By Carol Anne Szel

He’s known worldwide as the Prince of Darkness. Sold mega millions of records, toured the world’s biggest stadiums, and is one of the most recognizable names in music. He is Ozzy. And he’s known for indeed the unknown, the mysterious, the rumors.

We’re here to perhaps clear up some of that mystery, and as with Ozzy’s 1983 hit “Bark At The Moon,” we’re turning to Jake E Lee for some insight.

Jake E Lee was with Ozzy from 1982-1987 penning both “Bark At The Moon” in ‘83 and “The Ultimate Sin” three years later as well as touring relentlessly after each release. He’s known as the guitarist who replaced the legendary Randy Rhoads, and of course Lee is known for his axe wielding playing that is critically acclaimed as some of the best. After his five-year stint with Osbourne, Jake E Lee led the band Badlands, and in 2013 to date is on guitar with the band he formed, Red Dragon Cartel.

We had the chance to hear some of the truths about Ozzy from Jake, and he holds nothing back.

What was Ozzy’s personality really like from someone on the inside?

“Ozzy is very Jekyll and Hyde. I had just come out of the Hollywood scene, and my friends were the guys in Ratt, the guys in Motley Crue, and we thought it was just derigour to go out and get f**ked up. And I was like that when I first joined Ozzy. But seeing the effect it had on him made me curtail some of that stuff quite a bit. Because I didn’t want to end up like that. So I can credit him for helping me not go down that road.”

How did you benefit from this massive acclaim with him?

“With Ozzy it was educational. Ozzy was… when he was sober he was such a nice guy. When he was not sober he was such an asshole. So, it was very up and down, on and off, black and white, with Ozzy. Because when he was really f**ked up, and I don’t know why, but he would just really become like a bully. And I didn’t put up with it, we established that pretty early that I wouldn’t take it. So he would find somebody that would. He could be pretty mean, but like I said, his basic character was a nice, funny guy.”

Osbourne was largely managed and directed by his wife Sharon, who has quite a reputation as a hard-nosed business woman on the music scene.

“And as far as Sharon, I always got along with Sharon. Not on the business aspect of it, but personally I always got along with Sharon, I liked her. And I can see why people don’t. Yea, if you get on the wrong side of her it’s pretty hard not to dislike her.”

What was it like on stage with Ozzy?

“It was fun playing with Ozzy. I like to say that was my gunslinging days, you know, where you’re the new kid in town and you have something to prove. And the musicality, I wouldn’t say it ever took a back seat, but you wanted to still be musical but in conjunction with some histrionics.”

How did you get discovered by him?

“I had just been plucked out of the local LA scene and then into playing stadiums. It was wild, I don’t know if it was better or worse. Because after that I saw my friends in Ratt and Motley Crue work their way up. They both became fairly popular fairly quickly. But in the beginning it was more of a hardship in a way, which we were all young, it’s not that hard. But to work your way up from the same place that I came from, to the level that I was with Ozzy, all the in between periods I was a little jealous of that. Yea, because they had a comradery, comradery was a lot of it. Because when I did join Ozzy, I was pretty much by myself. Everybody else in the band, they had been around for years. And they were all in their 30s, and I was in my 20s, and back then that seemed like a huge age gap. So, they were like old men. And I didn’t have anybody. It’s not a sad thing, it’s just a different thing. I mean I could go out drinking with them, but I just didn’t have that much in common. Ozzy was really exciting too, obviously. It was interesting.”

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You can catch up with Jake E Lee with his aforementioned band Red Dragon Cartel, whose latest release, Patina, brought them out touring internationally this year.

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