Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ozzy to rerelease classic albums

Interesting news from Ozzy’s camp this week: later this year, he’ll be releasing 30th Anniversary editions of his first two solo albums, 1980’s "Blizzard Of Ozz" and "Diary Of A Madman" (1981).

What’s interesting is that the reissues will feature the albums as they were originally recorded.

Sound strange? Not if you know more of the history….

Bassist Bob Daisley and drummer Lee Kerslake won a court case in 1986 that awarded them songwriting royalties for their work on the two records. That’s only half of the story, though: they weren’t given credits on the Diary album – in fact, no “playing” credits were listed; rather, the inner sleeve featured a picture of the Diary touring lineup (including Rudy Sarzo and Tommy Aldridge), so fans could have easily assumed the rest. Daisley and Kerslake spent years in court trying to receive performance royalties and proper credits on the release, and it hadn’t been settled by the time 2002 rolled around.

Sharon Osbourne issued a press release in April, 2002, announcing the rerelease of the two records that spring, but with the bass and drums parts rerecorded by Ozzy’s (then) current band members, Robert Trujillo (now with Metallica) and drummer Mike Bordin.

WHA?! Yup, that’s how nasty things got between the parties. Sharon was quoted as saying "Because of Daisley and Kerslake's abusive and unjust behavior, Ozzy wanted to remove them from these recordings. We turned a negative into a positive by adding a fresh sound to the original albums."

It’s hard to imagine how things got this far, and fan and media reports on the ‘02 reissues were not favourable – beyond the tampering issue, reviewers referenced sub-par performances by Trujillo and Bordin and sloppy remixes compared to the original production. Several reviewers advised fans not to buy the “inferior” reissues, and, according to Daisley, the original versions were recalled and pulled out of stores at the time of the change.

Messing with any original masterpiece in any art form is frowned upon, and this took the battle between the two parties to a new low…and there was a tough precedent to beat.

When Ozzy’s 1997 best of, “The Ozzman Cometh,” was released, songwriting/bass credits were given to “Bob Daisy” – that’s not MY typo, that’s how it was issued – check it out yourself if it’s in your collection….and there’s others: Rudy Sarzo is listed as “Trudy Sarzo” and Phil Soussan is listed as “Bill Susan.” Daisley, in fact, wrote all the lyrics to Ozzy’s solo catalog in the 80s, something Ozzy has even confirmed in interviews.

In his recent autobiography, “I Am Ozzy,” Ozzy refers briefly to how he and Sharon initially fell out with Bob and Lee (check pg 209 for starters). According to Ozzy, Bob had started trouble when they first hooked up (via auditions) by suggesting that the lineup should be billed under a band name and not Ozzy as a solo performer. After the way Sabbath ended, Ozzy wouldn’t even consider the thought of being in another band, and you know Sharon had his back the whole way. After a UK tour but before a US one for Blizzard, the group recorded the Diary album. Once the US Blizzard dates started selling out, Ozzy says Bob and Lee would always be hounding Sharon and him for more money here and there, and it drove them both nuts. Bob and Lee were both shown the door after the Diary sessions, replaced by Sarzo and Aldridge. Ozzy: “So that was the end of Bob and Lee, although I worked with Bob a few times over the years, until he started suing me every other day of the week” (pg 210).

While there’s no mention of the 2002 reissues, Ozzy does reconcile things: “I’ve never believed in feuds. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve been angry with people. Very angry – with people like…Bob Daisley. But I don’t hate them. And I don’t wish them any harm. I reckon hating someone is just a tota waste of time and effort. What do you get out of it in the end? Nothing” (page 362).

Bob Daisley offered his take on things in a 2002 interview with Cosmik Debris magazine:
“What an insult to Randy and what an insult to the record buying public. You know they put all these little stickers on the front of those records saying "Ozzy's blistering first recording of his solo career" without saying "Hey, if you're going to buy this record, know it's not the original recording, and it's not the original band." That's what they should have said, and they didn't.

The band was called The Blizzard Of Ozz, and if you look at all the contracts that were drawn up, and all the letters of intent, all the accounting in the office of expenses, it's all down to something called The Blizzard Of Ozz, and that was not the album. The album was to be called The Blizzard Of Ozz just like Led Zeppelin's first album was called Led Zeppelin and Bad Company's first was called Bad Company. We said "We don't mind having Ozzy Osbourne's name featuring on it, like 'The Blizzard Of Ozz,' then in smaller writing, 'featuring Ozzy Osbourne.'" We said we were fine with that. We can drop the Ozzy bit when we're more established. But what they did was they brought the art with bigger writing saying Ozzy Osbourne, then in smaller writing, The Blizzard Of Ozz, which makes it look like it's an Ozzy Osbourne album called The Blizzard Of Ozz.

We started the lawsuit in 1981 against Jet Records and Don Arden, who is Sharon's father, and back then Ozzy and Sharon were helping us in our case against them because she'd had a major falling out with her father. Back then she was still Sharon Arden. Unbeknownst to us, in 1983 they made a deal to buy Ozzy from Jet Records and her father and own all the rights. We didn't know that. We carried on suing Jet and Don, went to court in 1986, had a settlement, a payout from him and Jet that we didn't get until 1987, but then we thought "Okay, that's taken care of that, so now maybe they'll change the credits and now maybe we'll get our money." And we were getting some money, because we'd get publishing money from Blizzard Music.

We haven't had any artist royalties. Performance royalties. We got songwriting royalties, but we weren't sure at the time what we were getting and what we weren't. We found out what they were later. We also found out later they didn't change the credits on Diary, which they were supposed to. And while I was working with them, I actually said to Sharon "This means a lot to me, can we get this changed?" "Yes, I promise you. We're re-releasing it in '95. We're doing a remastered version, we'll do it then." Then it came out, I looked in the shops and it wasn't changed. I confronted her about it. I said "Sharon, you didn't change it! You said you would!" She said "Oh, well that was just their mistake on the first issues. The next batch will have your names..." They never did, it was just bs.

The credits that they up on Diary were... We got our songwriting credit, but they didn't credit us with playing on that album and they didn't credit us as co-producing that album. If you look at the first album, it says "Produced by Osbourne, Daisley, Rhoads and Kerslake. Engineer: Max Norman." We used the same engineer for the second album, and we thought "We'll produce this one as well." We didn't have a producer. We produced it. We thought "Max Norman is the engineer again, so let's give him a credit as co-producing," so we all agreed on that. But then when they got rid of me and Kerslake, it's got production of Diary Of A Madman as "Produced by Ozzy Osbourne, Randy Rhoads and Max Norman." And they left us off there. Max Norman was really just the engineer. We were being nice by saying "Give him a credit as co-producer," and then we got left off it.

Sharon was the one who phoned me up. She said "You and Lee are out of the band. It's over." I couldn't believe it, because three days before that we were at Ridge Farm finishing Diary Of A Madman. They must have gone to America the next day, or that night, and then I got a phone call three or four days later saying I'm out of the band. I couldn't believe it. I said "Wait a minute, what about our royalties? These contracts have been drawn up and we're supposed to have everything sorted out, and that's why we kept working. What about that?" And she says "End of story!" I said "Yeah, we'll see about that."
More background here:

Bob Daisley interview – 2002
Blizzard Of Ozz and Diary Of A Madman 2002 reissues

Lee Kerslake, in a 2002 interview with The Fuze:
"I haven't heard the reissues. I've been told how bad it is. I think it's so sad. The audacity! Whatever we've done to deserve that, I have no idea. It doesn't make me look bad, or Bob look bad. It makes Ozzy and Sharon look terrible for doing such a destructive thing. Those first two albums have stood the test of time - twenty years - because of us (Ozzy, Randy, Lee & Bob) writing and playing them. You don't just suddenly decide after millions of copies sold "We're gonna take them off, because we don't like them." They must have their reasons. I don't know why. It's so silly. The kickback is that so many people say to me "How dare she?!"

It's like taking a Harley-Davidson and making it sound like a Yamaha. I don't know what's got into her mind - saying that we were harassing her. How can we harass her and Ozzy? We don't even know them now, except through the lawyers. We have no connection with them whatsoever. It is senseless, because at the end of the day all the fans are gonna realize...that's why suddenly I'm getting inundated with interviews.”

The court case eventually wrapped up in Ozzy’s favour in May, 2004 – the appeals court determined he and Sharon owed nothing to the two former bandmates.

Who knows how things progressed in recent years between the parties, but it’ll be interesting to see if the new Diary reissue features any changes, including the addition of performer credits.

So, it’s good news that these classic albums are being re-released, but offer a good ‘heads up’ to anyone who’s considering buying these before the 30th Anniversary editions are out later this year – you may not get what you thought you were paying for…

Ozzy Osbourne – I Don’t Know
After Hours – Rochester, NY - April 28, 1981
(note: Rudy Sarzo and Tommy Aldridge perform here)