The Blizzard of Ozz and The Holy Grail

Today, the 19th of March 2014, is the 32nd anniversary of the tragic loss of Randy Rhoads. To pay special tribute to Randy's life and the working relationship that he had with Bob Daisley, Bob has not only agreed to answer some recent questions regarding the seven hours of audio tapes that he recorded during the writing, rehearsing and recording sessions of the 'Blizzard of Ozz' and 'Diary of a Madman' albums, he has also agreed to share some snippets of those recordings with the fans…

1. Why do you refer to your tapes as 'The Holy Grail'?

BD: Several years ago, I was talking to someone about what I have on tape and I said that to those people who love that band and the 'Blizzard' and 'Diary' albums, what I have would be considered 'The Holy Grail' to them. It just refers to its rarity, a sort of 'ultimate treasure', not to any religious connotations.

2. What time-span does the 'Grail' cover?

BD: From December the 8th 1979 to March the 23rd 1981.

3. Have your cassette tapes been transferred to digital?

BD: Yes, all of my analogue tapes have been transferred to digital for safety sake, although I still have the original cassettes as well.

4. The first recordings on your cassette recorder were done at Monmouth, which was a very basic live-in rehearsal facility with no recording studio, in those days. Lee Kerslake didn't join the band until after the songs on 'BOO' had been written, so who supplied a drum beat at Monmouth while you, Randy and Ozzy were working on songs?

BD: Ozzy's friend Barry Screnage, nicknamed 'Spencer'. He was a roadie/gofer and played drums while we wrote and rehearsed song parts.

5. Was he ever considered as a possible drummer for the band, and did he get involved in the writing process?

BD: No, Spencer was never considered as a possible permanent drummer for the band, and he wasn't part of the writing process either.

6. Ozzy has said that he doesn't read music and can't play an instrument so did you or Randy jot down the dots on manuscript paper as you created the songs together?

BD: The term 'writing' songs is loosely applied to coming up with ideas and playing them, it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with writing notes/music down on paper. Although Randy sight-read music, and I know the rudiments of music and can read charts, we didn't actually write anything down on paper, we 'wrote' and played the songs 'by ear', that's why I taped everything, so that we wouldn't forget what we'd written/played. When I was in Rainbow, Ritchie and I often taped rehearsals for that same reason, some of my Rainbow rehearsal tapes were used as bonus material on the recent re-release of the 'Long Live Rock 'n' Roll' album. With the Blizzard writing and rehearsal sessions, I was the only one who taped anything, and I kept them all.

You recently answered a fan's question about the sound quality of your tapes which you rated between 6 & 9 on a scale of 1-10. To be honest that didn't tell me enough, not only because one man's 6 might be another man's 4 but mostly because I've heard the 'Grail' and some of the sections may not be a '9' but that doesn't take away from their importance or uniqueness. I think that it's fair to say that your recordings of the earliest writing sessions aren't studio quality but I also think that, regardless of the sound quality, Blizzard fans would love to hear how the initial song ideas were developed, along with riffs and parts of songs that were discarded and never used.

BD: That riff was one of Randy's and one of the first things that we worked on together at Monmouth in December, 1979. It ended up not being used but there was another part of that song (not heard here) that became a section in 'Revelation Mother Earth'.

7. What exactly was Ozzy's input in the writing process?

BD: Vocal melodies, that is, the 'tune' that he sang over the music that Randy and I (and later Lee) put together. He also helped with the order of the 'parts' of the songs and came up with some song titles and the odd lyrical line here and there. His ad-lib vocal line in that snippet became the title of 'Steal Away the Night'.

8. Some of the song parts that Randy used on 'BOO' can be heard on work that he did with his previous band Quiet Riot, obviously it takes more than a riff or 'part' to make a good song but were any of the songs on 'BOO' or 'DOAM' written before you, Randy, Ozzy, and later Lee, started working together?

BD: No, everything was written from scratch after we got together. Randy and I had riffs and chord structures but they weren't finished songs, we turned them into songs together and wrote new parts, changed bits, and experimented together.

9. In your book 'For Facts Sake', you go into detail about how the songs came together and you mention that you wrote a lot of the lyrics after the music had been written, did you ever write lyrics while you were working on the music?

BD: Occasionally, 'Crazy Train' is an example, I came up with the title and part of the chorus line - 'Going off the rails on a crazy train' - very early on during the initial writing process. There were others too, a title or a line here or there, but I wrote most of the lyrics when the song structure was more established.

10. Randy played a different solo in that version of 'Crazy Train', do you have all of the parts of songs that were never used on tape?

BD: Yes, there are many alternate versions of songs and parts of songs that have never been heard before, from both albums. If anyone's familiar with those two albums, it won't be difficult to spot the unused/discarded parts. There aren't any complete unheard songs other than the jam at Ridge Farm.

11. Have the Osbournes, or the Rhoads family, heard any of your tapes?

BD: Ozzy heard them when we were writing and rehearsing in 1979/'80/'81, the whole band did, but Ozzy hasn't since then. Kelle Rhoads has heard snippets that I played him over the phone, and he loved what he heard, he'd love to see the 'Grail' released.

12. A so-called rare demo of 'Suicide Solution' was on YouTube for a while, the sound quality was poor to say the least, is that 'demo' from your tapes?

BD: No, that's not from my 'Grail', I don't know how that got out there, and it's not a 'demo'. It is us, we were writing 'Suicide Solution', but we didn't demo it, and if we had, the quality would've been way better than that. That's not Lee Kerslake on it either, it was a drummer that we were auditioning at the time, before we found Lee, but we tried out many drummers so I'm not sure who it is. Maybe he made a tape that day too.
We only ever went into a demo studio once and recorded four songs - 'I Don't Know', 'Crazy Train', 'Goodbye to Romance' and 'You Looking at Me'. I remember writing the outro lyrics to 'Goodbye to Romance' in the control room at the demo studio before Ozzy recorded the vocal. That was in Birmingham in early 1980, we had a drummer with us called Dixie Lee. We thought that he might be 'the guy' but he wasn't the final piece of the puzzle.

13. Ozzy said in an interview that 'You Looking at Me, Looking at You' was never performed live, is that one of the reasons you chose to let us hear that song rather than any of the other songs on the demo?

BD: No, I chose that song because it's not as 'high profile' as the others, but back then it was still 'up there' with the others, originally it was going to be on the album. It just goes to show how much Ozzy remembers, of course we did 'You Looking at Me' live, we had to, otherwise we wouldn't have had a long enough set. We'd only done one album when we toured so even with playing every song from the album and the B-side of the single (You Looking at Me'), we had to extend a few of the intros and outros, and include a Sabbath medley as well.

14. The songs were more or less written when Lee joined the band and you went to Clearwell Castle for 6 days to rehearse. Did you record the rehearsals at Clearwell?

BD: No, the whole reason for going to Clearwell was to teach the songs to Lee and then rehearse them as a band before going to Ridge Farm the next week to start recording, although I didn't finish some of the lyrics until we started recording. Most of my recordings were 'work reference' tapes, while we were writing the songs and experimenting with parts and arrangements, before Lee came along, just so that we wouldn't forget what we'd written and played. We did make a few final adjustments and fine tunings with Lee but I had everything that we needed as a reference on tape already. I did record some of our conversations and clowning around when we got drunk. I have a tape of Randy using his pedal board for the very first time when it was delivered to Clearwell, that's quite an interesting recording, to say the least.

15. Did you tape any of the shows on the UK tour?

BD: Yes, I've got one show on tape but it's not labelled so I'm not sure which gig it is, it was all quite hectic on tour. Don Arden had appointed his daughter Sharon 'Tour Coordinator', she'd only just arrived back from America right before the tour began and she went on the road with us. Dates were being moved, added, pulled, postponed and rescheduled, sometimes at short notice. As an example, our day off in Birmingham, after playing in Liverpool the night before, was cancelled so that we could leave Liverpool early the next morning and drive to Ridge Farm in Surrey to remix 'Goodbye to Romance' for a single. After we'd done the remix and spent the night at Ridge Farm the plan changed and we were informed that Jet Records wanted a new song to release as part of a live EP, so Randy, Lee and I put together the music, with Lee singing the guide vocal/melody at soundcheck while Ozzy, drunk, slept under the drum riser. I took the tape of what we'd written with Lee's vocal melody back to the hotel and wrote the lyrics in my room before the show that night. The song was 'You Said It All'.

16. Were there any songs, or parts of songs, that didn't end up on 'BOO' or 'DOAM' but were used on 'Bark At The Moon' or any of the other albums that you worked on with Ozzy?

BD: I've often been asked if there were any songs or ideas left over from the writing sessions with Randy, the answer is no, we used and recorded everything that was complete at the time, nothing ended up in part or whole on 'BATM', they were all new songs. There were no parts that ended up on any other recordings either. During the initial writing process for 'BOO' and 'DOAM', there were parts of songs that ended up on the 'cutting room floor', so to speak, but none of them appeared anywhere else after that, they were 'put to bed' and stayed there.

17. Did you record the writing sessions and rehearsals of 'Bark at the Moon'?

BD: Yes, they're not part of the 'Grail' but I have our writing and rehearsal sessions from 'BATM' all on tape too. Jake E. Lee had some riffs and ideas when he came into the band, just like I did, but they weren't songs, we completed them together. When I turned up to the first writing sessions for Bark with my cassette player/recorder, so that I could record our work as usual, Ozzy called my boom box 'the hit maker', because he associated it with my work tapes of the songs on the hugely successful 'Blizzard' and 'Diary' albums. I have tapes of many of the bands that I've worked with - Uriah Heep, Rainbow, Gary Moore, Black Sabbath etc., etc.

18. Thanks for giving your time Bob, it's very much appreciated. If fans send in more questions about your 'Grail', would you consider sharing a few more pieces, maybe from the making of the 'Diary of a Madman' album?

BD: I don't have a problem with that, I have the writing/rehearsal sessions for the 'Diary' material too, I'd be delighted to. Until then, here's us jamming at Ridge Farm on the day (evening actually) that we arrived, the 22nd of March 1980. We were trying out amp positions, mic' positions and the general sound of the room. That jam went on for quite a while and then we broke into a daft on-the-spot comedy sketch, the whole thing is around 20 minutes long but I can give you a 'taster' for now.

Interview by Troy for the Website • March 2014