37 Years Ago: Audiences Go Mad For Ozzy Osbourne's 'Diary of a Madman'

November 7, 2018

The year was 1981 and Ozzy Osbourne's reign over metal continued with the November 8th release of Diary of a Madman. Following the success of Blizzard of Ozz, Ozzy implemented a similar album structure by fusing anthemic head-banging songs like "Flying High Again", "S.A.T.O." and "Over the Mountain" with more melodic tunes like "You Can't Kill Rock and Roll" and the power ballad "Tonight." Diary of a Madman was also the record that really made guitarist Randy Rhodes a legend amongst the rock and metal community.

The album's title wasn't just a clever name that went along with Ozzy's brand. Diary of a Madman, like many of Ozzy's albums before it, was riddled with dissention amongst other band members. Bassist Bob Daisley had allegedly been responsible for writing most of the album's music and lyrics, and drummer Lee Kerslake is said to have come up with "Flying High Again" and "Over The Mountain," though neither of them received proper credit for songwriting or performance, though bassist Rudy Sarzo and drummer Tommy Aldridge were.

In the album's re-issue in 2002, the drum and bass tracks were ripped out and replaced by bassist Robert Trujillo (Metallica) and drummer Mike Bordin (Faith No More).

But none of the drama was any concern to Ozzy's fans. All they wanted to look forward to was Ozzy's incredible vocals and Rhodes' groundbreaking take on mixing metal with classical guitar, and Diary of a Madman did not disappoint.

Ozzy's songwriting approach to Diary of a Madman wasn't the only similarity it had to Blizzard of Ozz. Both albums had to be recorded quickly in order to keep Ozzy on the touring circuit, and by the time the band entered Ridge Farm Studios in Rusper, England, Diary of a Madman was finished within a month. It would also be the final album to include Rhodes, who was killed in a plane crash on March 19th, 1982.

Even though most musicians would agree that a month in a studio is hardly enough time to perfect an entire album, producer Max Norman had the sharp skills necessary to catalogue all of the band's live sessions instantly in order to produce a clear and complete record.

Debuting on the Billboard album charts at No. 16, Diary of a Madman had three singles land in the top 100 songs of the Mainstream Rock Chart. "Flying High Again" peaked at No. 2, "Over The Mountain" landed at No. 38, and "You Can't Kill Rock and Roll" hit at No. 41. By May 10th, 1982, the RIAA declared Diary of a Madman its platinum status, and had reached triple platinum by October 26th, 1994.