I’ve never cared about Ozzy Ozbourne.
Black Sabbath? Zzzzzz. Ozbourne’s nasal yawp combined with Tony Iommi’s guitar playing (he sounds he’s fingering notes with his nose) has always bored me stiff. Who cares?
The superannuated, drug-addled caricature on “The Osbournes?” I’ve seen maybe twenty minutes of the show. I regretted every one of them:
And his career in between? Nope. Largely don’t care about that, either.
But it was thirty years ago today that Osbourne changed metal forever. Today is the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Blizzard of Ozz:
Blizzard took Osbourne’s ageing, cartoonish persona and updated it with an approach that owed much (under the hood) to punk’s frothing energy. Seventies metal’s lugubrious plodding was tossed out the window; this was music you could mosh to!
The real star of the album, of course, was Randy Rhodes, a 24-year-old guitar phenom…
…and classical guitar buff who ushered in the age of the “guitar player who could do anything”.
Seriously. Check out “Crazy Train”:
That’s a plain, vanilla (figuratively and color-wise) Les Paul Standard. I’m seeing this for the first time as I’m writing this; he’s not using a Floyd Rose whammybar to get those howling glissandos. It’s pure freaking technique. And thirty years after it came out, and 28 years after Rhodes’ death in a plane crash at age 26, it amazes me now more than it did then – and it amazed me a lot back then.
With Eddie Van Halen, you always got the impression you were listening to someone who was pushing back the limits of what a guy could do on the guitar. With Rhodes, you felt that the guy just lived at the limits to enjoy the view, rhetorically speaking; he was less a pioneer than someone who’d internalized “amazing”.
Ozzy? Pfft. Who cares. Keep it all.
But Blizzard of Ozz still thrills me to listen to.