35 Years Ago: Ozzy Osbourne Releases 'Bark At The Moon'

November 15, 2018
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Since the release of his second solo album Diary of a Madman in 1981,Ozzy continued his domination over the rock and metal world. Record sales were just as crazy as the world that seem to circulate around Ozzy. But when he released his third solo album Bark at the Moon on November 15th, 1983, the former Black Sabbath frontman put out a record that proved himself as an artist, despite the chaos that followed him leading up to its production.

In the early 1980's, the drug-and-acohol-induced Osbourne was roaring across the world at the top of his career, which brought its share of health scares and arrests, as well as serving as the coping mechanism following the death of one of his closest friends. This was the period of time in which the Prince of Darkness bit the head off of a bat, collapsed mid-concert onstage, urinated on the Alamo, and mourned the loss of his good friend and guitarist Randy Rhodes in a tragic plane crash.

When Rhodes passed away on March 18th, 1982, Osbourne had only two weeks to grieve before hitting the road to resume his Diary of a Madman tour. Short a guitarist, Ozzy brought on Bernie Tormé, former guitarist of Ian Gillan, for a few dates before handing the role over to Brad Gillis of Night Ranger. Rudy Sarzo left to rejoin playing bass for Quiet Riot, handing his position over to Pete Way of UFO, only to leave after the final date of the tour in 1982.

So there was a constant coming-and-going of musicians moving in-and-out of his band, and Ozzy struggled to find a suitable fit. After working with guitar legends like Tony Iommi and Randy Rhodes, whoever he chose as his permanent guitarist needed to be cut from the same cloth. They first hired George Lynch, who rehearsed with the band in Europe, but was soon replaced by Jake E. Lee, who played in the early days of Ratt and was once considered to being Motley Crue's second guitarist. Flashy guitar playing, certified shredded and decked out head-to-toe in leather, Lee seemed to be the perfect candidate for filling Rhodes' shoes.

After bringing Lee on board, the next step was to begin the songwriting process for the new album. A task that Ozzy was in no state to fulfill on his own.

Lee says that much of the songwriting resposibilities fell on his and bassist Bob Daisley's shoulders, with Ozzy playing around the songs whenever he showed up. The duo developed a strong working relationship together, writing the lyrics and riffs to the songs. But their outrage went full-tilt when they received their contracts for the end of the recording process where it said in black-and-white at all of the songs on the record would say they were written by Ozzy.

Under the impression that only contributors to the songs would receive credit and publishing, Lee threatened to sue. It was then when Ozzy's wife and manager Sharon Osbourne told him that if he were serious about suing them, then they would just bring in another guitarist to record over all of his parts. Both Lee and Daisley acquiesced to their wishes, but learned the important lesson to look over the contract before they start recording.

The US version of Bark at the Moon kicked off with the album's title track and hit single, and would later become a staple is Ozzy's catalogue of hits with a little help from the song's music video that featured Ozzy transforming into a werewolf. The album's artwork was also another crowning achievement for special effects/makeup artist Greg Cannom, who is also famous for his work on The Howling and Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video.

Another noteable fact about Bark at the Moon was the significant amount of keyboards featured on the record. Growing in popularity in the '80s, Don Airey's keyboard playing can be heard on songs like "You're No Different," "So Tired," and "Centre of Eternity."

With Lee as Ozzy's new live shining star, he lived up to his hype in songs like "Rock 'n' Roll Rebel" and "No You See It (Now You Don't)," and was able to bring energy into some of the less-popular songs "Spiders" and "Slow Down." In spite of some reviews of how Bark at the Moon could have turned out, Lee made it clear that he was a guitar-playing force to be reckoned with.

Bark at the Moon topped out at No. 19 on the Billboard charts, and the revolving door of musicians moving in-and-out of the band would continue, leaving only Ozzy and Lee the only standing members when it was time to record Ozzy's fourth album The Ultimate Sin in 1986.

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