Bob Daisley

by Greg Prato

According to Bob Daisley, Ozzy Osbourne is many things, but he's not a lyricist. And just as Geezer Butler supplied his words in Black Sabbath, Daisley wrote the lyrics for "Crazy Train," "Flying High Again," "Mr. Crowley" and the rest of the songs on the albums Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman.

As Bob explains, the post-Sabbath band that Ozzy formed with Randy Rhoads on guitar, Lee Kerslake on drums and Bob on bass was called Blizzard of Ozz, but was marketed as an Ozzy solo project. Working on these albums put Bob in the enviable position of writing songs face-to-face with Rhoads, the brilliant guitarist who died in a 1982 plane crash at age 25. The songs came together thanks to Rhoads' creative riffing (born out of a classical music background), Ozzy's vocal melodies, and Bob's profound lyrics - he had a good reason for asking "was it polemically sent?" in "Mr. Crowley."

Daisley has chronicled his adventures, which include work with Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Gary Moore and Uriah Heep, in his autobiography, For Facts Sake. There has been considerable legal flotsam surrounding his work with Osbourne, but the story here is the songs. Here, Bob explains how they were crafted and offers his insights on Randy Rhoads.
Greg Prato (Songfacts): Let's start off by talking about your new book, For Facts Sake. What made you decide to write your autobiography now?

Bob Daisley: Well, the book has been a long time coming. I first got the idea of doing a book probably towards the end of the '80s. And then through the '90s, when I'd do interviews or when I'd tell people funny stories and anecdotes and things, so many people used say, "Oh, you've got to put that in a book." So gradually I got round to the idea of, "I've got to get serious and do this."

It was the perfect time. If I'd done it too early, so many important things wouldn't have been in it, because they hadn't happened yet. But it was a long time coming and it took a while to do it, as well. I was working on it for four years. The actual writing of it took about another two and a half years, and there were thousands of photographs to go through and narrow those down into hundreds, and then scanning them. I think there's over 480 photos in the book. And I wanted the photographs within the text, so that if you're reading about Gary Moore or Ozzy Osbourne, there's the photos that I'm talking about, so you don't have to go searching in the photo section. And to do that, my webmaster, Simon, did a brilliant job on doing the photo placement throughout the text, because it's a really hard job to do. Because you only have to make one a bit smaller or a big bigger or change a bigger text and it throws the whole thing off. It's like a Rubik's Cube kind of thing.

I was pleased with the final product. I wanted a good quality product and I think I've got that.

Songfacts: As far as songwriting, how do you find that you write your best songs?

Daisley: That sort of thing varies. It depends on who I'm with. I find writing with other people more inspiring, where you bounce ideas off of each other, and somebody might say, "Well, I've got this riff," and I might say, "I've got the perfect bit that will go with that."

And then with lyrics, you know, I've written a lot of lyrics in my time. Sometimes the ideas just come to me, so I'll jot them down in a book and then I've got different lines that might not be even related, but I have lots of little jottings in my book that come in handy when I start writing.

But I always try to have a message in a song or have something a little bit philosophical. There's nothing wrong with a good love song, but it's been done to death - I could put an album on of many different bands and all's you hear is, "I love you, baby," or "Don't leave me, baby," or that sort of stuff. [Laughing] I wanted to avoid that kind of thing. There is the odd one here and there that I've written, a love song or that kind of thing, but I prefer to lean more towards the philosophical.

Songfacts: What are some of your favorite lyrics that you've written over the years?Daisley: One of the recent albums that I did was with Jon Lord - The Hoochie Koochie Men (2007). The album is called Danger: White Men Dancing, and there are a few songs on there that I like the lyrics.

But I suppose the real classic stuff is the stuff that I get the most feedback from people on: the Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman albums. I get lots of comments from people saying, "Oh, this song or that song helped me through a difficult time or inspired me when I was feeling a bit down. I listened to that all the way through college and I got a lot out of it." And that makes it all worthwhile. If you can reach people on that level, then I think you've achieved something special. The whole point of music and lyrics is to make people emote, and if you get some emotion out of them, then you've done your job.

But I suppose I get a lot of comments about the song "Diary of a Madman," which was more of a personal thing for me. It wasn't about Ozzy. When I came up with the title of the album, we still didn't have a song called "Diary of a Madman." I came up with the title, and I thought it would be a good title for an Ozzy Osbourne album because he's got the reputation of being one of the madmen of rock & roll.

But the actual song was really about me. It was more of a personal thing.

Songfacts: I was going to say, I feel that's one of the most underrated tracks that you wrote on those first two Ozzy albums.

Daisley: Yeah. That is a particular favorite of a lot of people.

Songfacts: And as far as collaborating with others, who would you say are some of your favorite collaborators?

Daisley: Randy Rhoads has to be mentioned, for sure. He was a brilliant guitarist and a thoughtful writer, and it was a pleasure to work with him. Randy and I used to just sit on a chair opposite each other and come up with ideas. A lot of the main riffs were his, but sometimes I'd say, "Well, I've got a bit that will go with that." Some stuff was from way back in my past, from the early days, and they ended up on Diary of a Madman. But yeah, Randy, he's up there, for sure.

Jeff Watson, the guitarist with Mother's Army [and formerly of Night Ranger], I like working with Jeff. We've come up with a lot of good stuff together. There's been so many - Jake E. Lee, Zakk Wylde - they're some of the favorites.

Songfacts: And how was it collaborating with Ozzy?

Daisley: Good. It was easy. It flowed well. When the band was first together, it really was just Ozzy and Randy and me, because we were writing the stuff and auditioning drummers at the same time - we didn't have Lee [Kerslake]. That went on for a few months and we auditioned about 40 drummers until we found Lee. And we found Lee right before we had to go in to record the first album.Ozzy was fairly easy to work with. He was a bit down at first, because he'd just been fired from Black Sabbath and he was depressed and he was unsure of himself. It really damaged his confidence, being fired from Black Sabbath. But Randy and I used to encourage him and try to bring him up out of the doldrums. Writing with Ozzy was fairly easy because we had a little songwriting machine going. Randy and I would work on music together just sitting on chairs opposite each other, and then we'd put parts together and then we'd knock it off and Ozzy would sing a melody over it.

His melodies were always good. Ozzy's good for melodies. Usually the music came first, Ozzy would sing a melody, and then I would take a tape away into my room and write lyrics by myself to Ozzy's phrasing and melodies that would fit with what he was comfortable with. He wasn't a lyricist and neither was Randy, so I had to wear the lyricist hat. But I enjoyed it. I like writing the lyrics. That's how we wrote together.

Songfacts: Something that I don't think a lot of people realize is that you had the opportunity to collaborate with both Ozzy and also Tony Iommi, because you played on the Eternal Idol album from Black Sabbath [Tony Martin was their vocalist on that one]. So how would you compare writing with Ozzy to writing with Tony Iommi?

Daisley: Well, Ozzy being a vocalist, he was the one with the melodies. Ozzy doesn't really play an instrument. I mean, he plays a little bit of harmonica, but I wouldn't say he's a virtuoso on the harmonica, either. But he was always good with the vocal melodies.

Tony's a riffmeister. He's a master of the riffs, and he has riffs coming out of his ears. He's got so many musical ideas and riff ideas, and they're all good. People could knock out riffs and you'd say, "Yeah, that's all right," but Tony, when he writes riffs, they're always good. They're catchy, they're clever, they're trademark Tony Iommi riffs. He's great like that.

But it is different writing with a guitarist. Usually when you write with a guitarist, it's more the musical side of things, and if you're writing with a vocalist, that's when the lyrics come in more. It would have been nice to do something with Tony and Ozzy together, but that couldn't happen at that stage.

Songfacts: Before, you mentioned Randy Rhoads. I've always thought he was a very underrated songwriter, because lot of people focus on his great guitar playing.

In the early '80s, classical music rarely crossed with metal. But then came Randy Rhoads, who seemed to enjoy fingerpicking classical guitar as much as shredding solos on his Jackson V. This classical influence is best heard in the songs "Dee" off Blizzard of Ozz and on the title track from Diary of a Madman. Randy's forebear in this fusion (albeit far more bombastically) is Deep Purple, who teamed with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on their 1969 album Concerto for Group and Orchestra.
Daisley: Well, Randy as a songwriter, he had lots of influences. There was the definite sort of "basic rock thing," there were the guitarists that he'd listen to like Ritchie Blackmore and Hendrix and Clapton and the blues influence, Jeff Beck, for sure. And I know he listened a lot to Uriah Heep, the Demons and Wizards album in particular. And he had his classical thing, too. He was very into classical music and came from that background. His mother had the music school and he grew up in that environment, so he had that classical ingredient, and he wanted to pursue that even more so.

To be honest with you, I don't think Randy would have completely got away from rock & roll. It was too much a part of him. But I know he wanted out of the Osbourne camp. He wanted to pursue his studies and go to UCLA and then get a masters degree in Europe. That was his big thing. So that combination of things, the rock and the blues and even, I suppose, to a point, some poppy sort of stuff. But the classical ingredient gave his writing a different character.

I know Randy liked the classical influence in Deep Purple - Ritchie Blackmore was very much into classical and so was Jon Lord, so that was a big influence on some of their big, powerful music. I know Randy liked that classical influence in music.

Randy's got the reputation of being an amazing guitarist, and he was, rightly so. He should have that reputation; he certainly was up there with all the best. But he was a clever writer, too. He knew a lot about the technicalities of music, having come from that environment with his mom having a music school and studying the classical music, as well.

Songfacts: Let's discuss "Crazy Train."

Daisley: Well, Randy had the basic riff, the signature riff. Then we worked on music together. He needed something to solo on so I came up with a chord pattern and the section for him to solo over.

Before it was called "Crazy Train," before we even had a title, Randy and I were working on the music. He had his effects pedals, and coming through his amp was a weird kind of chugging sound. It was a phase-y kind of psychedelic effect, this chugging sound that was coming through his amp from his effects pedal.

Randy was into trains - he used to collect model trains and so did I. I've always been a train buff and so was Randy. So I said, "Randy, that sounds like a train. But it sounds nuts." And I said, "A crazy train."

Well, that's when the title first was born. And then Ozzy was singing melodies and he was phrasing exactly how it ended up. And I started writing lyrics to it.

When we demoed that song in the demo studio in Birmingham, before we'd done the album, before we had Lee Kerslake, we had another drummer with us named Dixie Lee. Dixie Lee was on the demos. We demoed four songs for the record company, Jet Records, so that they could hear what we were doing and what material we were going to be writing. The demo was "Crazy Train, "I Don't Know," "You Looking at Me, Looking at You," and "Goodbye To Romance." We didn't have the last verse in "Crazy Train" written at that stage, so Ozzy just sang whatever it was he sang, so that demo version has a different last verse.

But I wrote the last verse for "Crazy Train" when we were at Ridge Farm recording. So that's how all that came about. I've still got the lyrics sheet that I wrote the lyrics on.

When Diary of a Madman was released, Bob was shocked to find that he was not listed as the album's bass player - Rudy Sarzo was. Lee Kerslake was also omitted, with Tommy Aldridge getting credit for drumming. Bob has a page on his website dedicated to the sordid legal entanglements that followed, but the Diary saga got even more bizarre when the 2002 remastered edition was issued with the bass and drum parts replaced. Here's how the credits read:

Bass [Original Album Performer] – Bob Daisley
Bass [Reissue] – Robert Trujillo
Drums [Original Album Performer] – Lee Kerslake
Drums [Reissue] – Mike Bordin

On the 2011 30th anniversary reissue, the original tracks were used, but once again credited to Sarzo and Aldridge.
Songfacts: Since there's not that much material of Randy that's been released, I'm surprised they never issued those demos as part of a boxed set or something.

Daisley: Well, a couple of years ago when they planned to release the boxed set for the 30th anniversary, I went to Sharon's accountant who handles all her affairs and handles the publishing company and all that. I said, "Well, I've got these demos and I've got tapes of this recording, outtakes, I've got rehearsal takes, I've got us just chatting, clowning about, songwriting tapes," I said, "I've got loads of stuff, I've got hours of it. Why don't you include that on the boxed set?"

And I said, "Well, I'm not just giving it away, I'm the only one that's got this stuff. So I want a royalty on it." She wouldn't do it. She just wanted to buy it off me for a pittance and I said no. I'm not doing that again. I've been screwed enough.

Songfacts: I don't blame you.

Daisley: The fans suffered. Everybody wants to hear that stuff and I was willing to put it out there. But I said, I'm not just giving it to her. Because also what I have to be careful of is if they control it, they can edit it to make it sound like that same old fairytale that they come up with about how Ozzy and Randy wrote everything, which is total bollocks.

Songfacts: From a fans' perspective I know that you were a huge part of the songwriting. It's obvious, since Ozzy kept rehiring you as a songwriter throughout the years.

Daisley: That is quite a complicated scenario, the way I kept coming back, and the circumstances and that. People say to me, "Why'd you go back?" But it's not a simple answer and it's quite a complicated sort of interwoven/interconnected story.

Songfacts: The song "Mr. Crowley," how did that whole subject matter come up?

Daisley: Ozzy had that title, "Mr. Crowley." And obviously what he meant was it was supposed to be about Aleister Crowley, the black magician. But I wanted to look at the darkness and question Aleister Crowley. "Aleister, what were you thinking?" You know. All this darkness and negativity. So that was a snag that I put on it.

In the "was it polemically sent?" line, "polemic" means controversial, and Aleister Crowley was very controversial in his day. He used to sign books or his autograph "Polemically Yours, Aleister Crowley." So that's why that word's at the end of the song.

Songfacts: Interesting. I didn't know that. And one of my favorite Ozzy songs is "Over the Mountain." What do you remember about the writing of that?

Daisley: Randy had the basic riff, but I think he was playing it in fours or maybe eights. I said, "No, double it. Make it 16," so he did that. We worked on the structure of the verses and the rest of the song together. Lee always had a bit of a hand in coming in with ideas, too, sometimes with vocal melodies and sometimes with little music things written. Lee plays piano as well. Some drummers only play drums, but Lee plays other instruments. He had a hand in it.

But it wasn't called anything for quite a while, because I hadn't written any lyrics and I didn't know what I was going to write it about. So musically it came together when we were rehearsing and writing in London before we went to Ridge Farm to record it. Then I wrote the lyrics at Ridge Farm while we were recording the Diary of a Madman album.

I was searching for a while for what it could be about. I don't like your typical cliché love songs, and with the musical approach on that song - the aggressiveness and the heaviness - it couldn't have had light lyrics. It had to be a bit different: a bit philosophical, and a bit cryptic. I didn't come up with the lyrics for that until we were actually recording at Ridge Farm.

Songfacts: How much of the lyrics would you say on those first two Ozzy albums did you have a hand in writing?

Daisley: Oh, more than 95 percent. Some songs 100 percent, some songs 95 percent. Ozzy used to just sing whatever came into his head, and it was usually nonsense. But I got the idea of his phrasing and his melodies from that. Every once in a while he might sing a line and I'd think, "Actually, that's not a bad line. I'll use that." It might be one line or he might have come up with a title like he did with "Mr. Crowley." But yeah, the majority, I'd say 95 percent plus.

Songfacts: Something that I've always seen through as being bullshit is on the Bark at the Moon album, all the music and lyrics were credited solely to Ozzy.

Daisley: Yeah. It says, "All songs written by Ozzy Osbourne." [Laughing] Now it's funny, isn't it? Well, that was because there was some complications with Jake's publishing and with my publishing. So it was like, well, you can't have your name on the album, so we did a buyout with Sharon and the record companies to just be paid to play on it and paid to write on it. Because Jake and I couldn't have our names on the album, it just had "All songs written by Ozzy Osbourne," which was almost a bit of a joke, really.

But Ozzy did an interview with International Musician magazine, of all things. Ozzy, international musician. They asked him how he'd written those songs on that album, and he got quite egotistical about it. He said, "Well, I wrote them with one finger on a piano after I came up with everything. And whenever I got lyrical ideas, I'd just jot them down. And if any of the band doesn't do what I say, I just fire them, because I'm like Elvis" or something like that. I've quoted that in the book and I even put the clipping out of International Musician in the book so you can see exactly what he says. It's a bit of a joke.

Songfacts: It's sad that Jake got robbed of being credited for writing that riff to the title track of Bark at the Moon, which is one of Ozzy's most popular songs.

Daisley: Well, even though we begrudgingly did it, we still agreed to have no credit on the album, which was a pain in the ass and we hated doing it. But we did it. So you can't really come back years later and say, "Well, where's my credit?" Because if you agree to do it, you agree to do it. So that's the way we agreed to do it, albeit begrudgingly. But that was the situation.

But the word is out now. A lot of people know who really wrote that stuff. [Note - Greg also interviewed Jake E. Lee around the same time as this interview, in which he discussed a time when he tried to finally get proper songwriting credit for "Bark at the Moon."]

Songfacts: On the No More Tears album it doesn't list you as a songwriter, but did you contribute to the writing on those songs?

Daisley: Well, I didn't have a lot to do with the songwriting other than coming up with all the bass parts for the songs - I always write my own bass lines. I was called in. He had Michael Inez on bass, and Mike's a decent player. A lovely bloke, nice chap he is, Michael. But it wasn't sounding and feeling how Ozzy wanted it, so I got the phone call: "Will you come in and play on the album?"

But most of the songs musically had been written except for the title track, "No More Tears," and we knocked that off in the studio, at A&M Studios, where we first started doing the backing tracks. That's where that song musically was finished.

I had a hand in the musical side of that. When it came to lyrics, I was going to write the lyrics, but I said, "Well, I don't want to do a buyout this time. I'd rather get my songwriting credits and maybe put it through the publishing company." That's when I was asked to go home. I'd written six sets of lyrics for six of the songs. I was going to work things out with them, and then they said, "You go home now." And that was it. So I only played on that one, and I didn't get any songwriting credits.

Songfacts: When we were talking before about having those tapes of the rehearsals for the first solo Ozzy album, as far as the outtakes...

Daisley: Before we go any further, it wasn't a solo Ozzy album. It was a band called the Blizzard of Ozz.

It's a bit of a sensitive point because they promoted that over the years as Ozzy's solo records. He's turned into a solo artist now, more or less, but in those days when we put that band together, we were all adamant about that, Lee and Randy and myself, and Ozzy wouldn't have cared if it was called "Ozzy Osbourne" or whatever. But the band wanted the band name, which is why we compromised with the name the Blizzard of Ozz, because it has Ozzy's name in it, but at least it sounds like a band. But it was never a solo record. That's how they promote it now, but it was never a solo project. It was a band called the Blizzard of Ozz.

So, really, Diary of a Madman should have had "The Blizzard of Ozz: Diary of a Madman" written on it. But because they got rid of me and Lee by then straight after recording that album, it just had "Ozzy Osbourne: Diary of a Madman." And I know that pissed Randy off, too. Because Lee and I had gone, so he'd lost his allies. Randy's brother, Kelle, who I often talk to, actually said that to me. So Randy was really pissed off about losing the band name. He wanted to be in a band, not some backing band for some solo artist.

Songfacts: I think at this point the majority of Ozzy fans do realize that you had a big part in Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman.

Daisley: Yeah, well, a lot of people know the truth. And that's a good thing. And that's comforting. But I suppose there are people out there that either don't care or they're not interested or just haven't got a clue what really went on. They just listen to the music and that's it.

Songfacts: As far as those recordings that you talked about with Randy, are there any songs, or rough ideas for songs, that never came out?

Daisley: There are early versions of the songs that did come out, but some of them have bits in them that we would have got rid of them. It was like, "Oh, this bit's not quite working, so we'll get rid of that." So some of them had slightly different parts in them, or there was a very basic part that started a song that didn't get used, that we didn't keep. But I've got tapes of stuff like that. I termed it The Holy Grail because I was the only one that taped them. And the only reason I did it was to have something to reference everything by to listen back to and figure, "Is this part working or is that part working or this needs changing." Or sometimes you might write a piece and you think, "Yeah, that's great. We'll remember that tomorrow." Famous last words. And we come back tomorrow and, "What was that bit? What were we doing?"

So I wanted to record everything that we were doing to just reference it by. [Bob posted several snippets of these recordings on his site].

Songfacts: If the opportunity ever came up again, would you consider collaborating with Ozzy Osbourne on music?

Daisley: I never say never, but there has been some dirty water gone under the bridge. I always enjoyed working with Ozzy because I liked him as a mate. We were friends, and it's sad that we don't have that friendship anymore, because we had such a laugh together, too. Ozzy's got a great sense of humor. We had such a good laugh so often, and that's probably why the working relationship was productive, because we enjoyed it. We had a good time together.

And I think if you're enjoying something, it comes out in the music. You can hear the enjoyment in it. There's been many a time where I think, "Oh, it's very sad that I miss him and I miss what we had." And it was all so unnecessary. There was plenty to go around. People get greedy and they get power hungry and they get egotistical and whatever else. I'd never say never, but put it this way, it's probably not likely, but if it was possible, if things could be put right, I would consider it.

For more Bob (and for info how to order For Facts Sake), visit Photos by Alan Perry, used with permission.
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Comments: 3

  • Walking Contradiction from United States We all know who the wicked witch is. Sharon Osborne got her greed honestly. Her dad screwed Black Sabbath out of millions of dollars. She used his playbook, and screwed the writers of the Ozzy albums out of their royalties. Let this be a lesson kiddies. Don't do anything without a contract. Richard Marx said it best. It don't mean nothing, till you sign it on the dotted line.
  • Jonny Black from Slc, UtWell, at least I know it was Bob Daisley that wrote most of it. I've always wondered who the genius lyricist was. I thought it was Ozzy, but now I know. Randy and Jake were my favorites, and then Tony Iommi and Zach. Great music, Bob!
  • Lenny Dubuisson from Nola ~ UsaKiller Words... LOVE THE MUSIC !!! METAL RULES .
see more comments

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