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Rudy Sarzo on Filming Landmark Ozzy Osbourne Concert Months After Tragic Death of Randy Rhoads (INTERVIEW)

Ethan Miller, Getty Images

This July, Eagle Rock Entertainment will release the legendary Ozzy Osbourne concert film Speak of the Devil on DVD in North America.

This much-talked about show was filmed at Irvine Meadows Amphitheater in California on June 12, 1982 as part of the delayed continuation of the Diary of a Madman tour following the tragic death of guitarist Randy Rhoads several months earlier. The concert includes the classics “Mr Crowley,” “Over the Mountain,” “Crazy Train,” “Flying High Again,” “Iron Man,” “Paranoid,” “Goodbye to Romance,” and many more Osbourne-related staples.

Speak of the Devil is a fantastic documentation of Ozzy’s live performances in the ’80s with a lineup that also featured Don Airey (keyboards), Tommy Aldridge (drums); Brad Gillis (who replaced Rhoads on guitar) and Rudy Sarzo (bass).

Despite the difficult circumstances, the show presented on Speak of the Devil captures Osbourne in fighting form at a very interesting point in his career. As legendary bassist Rudy Sarzo explained to Noisecreep in speaking about the new DVD, Ozzy never really set out to be a solo artist, but rolled with the punches as they happened.

Sarzo, (an author himself who also penned the liner notes for the DVD) remains one of rock’s great archaeologists, blessed with a keen memory of an era gone by and a studied take on the gravity and significance of all the moments in his colorful career.

Noisecreep always enjoys speaking with Sarzo as his stories are finely detailed and put the listener right in the moment. This latest conversation with the bass ace was no different than those past, and we feel fortunate for the time spent with him.

Rudy, the Speak of the Devil show was special, wasn’t it?

It really was. I’ve been looking forward to watching this since seeing the initial broadcast on Halloween in 1982. It was filmed in Southern California so it was a kind of hometown gig for all of us in the band because we all lived in the L.A. area. And of course, what makes it really special is that the person we are playing for, although he is not there in body, is truly present with us. You feel it.

Explain that, Rudy.

It’s something I talk about in the liner notes. This particular show was really about capturing something unique. Rarely do you see a band doing a video where the main character or performer is not there. Randy Rhoads is missing – but we were all playing in the spirit of Randy. Every performance that happened after the crash was basically leading us all through the steps of grieving – every single one. And so by the time we were doing that last show, it was a celebration – purely a celebration of Randy Rhoads. By that night we had reached a truly special level and so to have it captured so professionally is very exciting for all of us. And remember, this was really the last tour that featured so much from Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman, which Ozzy wrote with Randy. So all of the music that’s featured is very special, too.

Eagle Rock Entertainment

Do you have any special memories from that day, before the actual concert?

Well, there used to be a Lion Country Safari right next to the venue. So before the show Ozzy did a photo shoot and I think he had an altercation with a monkey or something. I was not there – but I think any creature would be afraid of the guy who bit the head off of a bat [laughs].

What was this tour like for you personally? I mean, on the DVD you play with such force and energy – you seem really moved by what is happening on stage.

Over the course of playing with this amazing band, starting when my good friend Randy was there, I had developed that style that you talk about. I learned playing with that Ozzy band, how to really dig deep into the music and become part of the music rather than just playing notes. That’s something I have carried with me ever since. Being in that band for those couple of tours was a touchstone of my career; nothing else even comes close to that.

It sounds very special.

It was truly the essence of what one seeks to get out of being a musician – that certain connection to be with those remarkable and outstanding musicians playing those songs, nothing can compare to it. When you get into a band, it’s not about how many records you’ll sell, or how many tickets or merchandise or anything – you’re looking for the vehicle that will not just touch you but go beyond that and reach the masses – something that moves people. Being in that band I had never felt something that unified the fans and band the way we did. It was just incredible.

And you say that for Ozzy, it was a special time as well.

He was going solo at the time of this DVD. I don’t think he ever meant to become a solo performer – he’s very much about being in a band – his band becomes his crew and his family. He was not even married to Sharon yet at the time of this video- they would be married the next month. I used to live with them, on the road, off the road, and they were just wonderful with me, Ozzy and Sharon. So yes, it’s a unique era for Ozzy as well.

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And all these years later, the show captured on this DVD still seems to stand out for you.

I’d say 90% of what i learned in music was from being on that tour. How to play, how to put on a real show, the business of it all – everything. But I have to say, as I watch the show, it’s very clear what it is.

And that is?

It is a celebration of a once in a lifetime musical partnership – between Ozzy and Randy – and a triumph of the human spirit. It was a remarkable era and a magical night. I hope everyone gets to enjoy this show. It is not just a live concert – it is a moment that has a certain spirit to it that is very rare and unique.

Ozzy Osbourne’s Speak of the Devil DVD will hit stores on July 17 via Eagle Rock Entertainment.

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