Ex-Ozzy drummer Lee Kerslake went bankrupt after losing litigation to Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne
Former Ozzy Osbourne drummer Lee Kerslake, who played drums on Blizzard of Oz (1980) and Diary of a Madman (1981), was recently interviewed by Jimmy Kay for Canada’s The Metal Voice.
In terms of how he joined Ozzy Osbourne’s Blizzard of Ozz band, Kerslake advised (as transcribed by The Metal Voice with slight edits): “I left Uriah Heep because I had a big argument with the management and I was sick and tired of the band politics so I left and started doing a solo album. I then got a phone call from Ozzy’s agent and said, ‘Would you fancy joining Ozzy Osbourne‘s band?’ And I said ‘No. I’m not interested in joining any band unless I am part of the band. I’ll join if I am a member because I’ve had enough arguments and politics in bands over the years.’ So Ozzy’s people said, ‘Okay.’ So I went to the auditions and I told them, ‘I will audition you and you will audition me.’
At the audition, it was just Randy Rhoads, Bob Daisley, Ozzy and me. I’d never heard of Randy Rhoads before I never knew of him or any of his playing but I knew Bob Daisley from Widowmaker. In rehearsal, we played the song ‘I Don’t Know’ and Randy Rhoads jumped and yelled ‘We got a drummer!’ And Bob said, ‘This guy’s incredible.’ And so I joined. Nothing more was discussed because we had to go in the studio right away and record an album. I didn’t know the songs because most of the tracks were already written and in the end, I wrote only a couple of songs. The first album was supposed to be called the Blizzard of Ozz as the name of the band but Sharon changed that and turned it around to Ozzy Osbourne. The album did very well in America.”
With respect to the pros and cons of recording Blizzard of Ozz, Kerslake opined: “Only pros, no cons, the wonderful thing about recording the Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman was everyone left the band alone to do the albums. They just left us to it and that was what we wanted. We had a fabulous engineer in the studio, who was Max Norman. We had me and Bob‘s studio knowledge and of course Randy Rhoads‘ talent and Ozzy. That’s why the album came out so well.”
In regard to his memories of performing in the UK between the recording of the two albums, Kerslake indicated: “Everything was great. Every gig was sold out. Everybody was coming to see us and we were playing really really well. Ozzy, as his normal self, was a bag of nerves before he went on, always so frightened going onstage but when he got on stage, he was fine and a professional.”
Kerslake also commented on his songwriting contributions to the album Diary of a Madman:”I co-wrote, ‘Flying High’, ‘Over The Mountain’, ‘S.A.T.O.’… I had seven songs that I co-wrote. As an example, basically Randy Rhoads came up with a riff. I listened to it with Bob and we worked it. I then started playing the drums and singing the vocal melody and then Bob Daisley would come on the bass and we build it bit by bit and it just came out. I did vocal melodies and I helped Randy do certain solos as well because I had them in my head.”
In terms of whether Quiet Riot‘s Frankie Banali or himself came up with the opening drum intro on the song “Over The Mountain”, Kerslake advised: “Frankie Banali’s a liar because we never met. I wrote it. I did it and I take credit for it because it was my idea. It was that triple quadruple triplets. That was me.”
Sadly, Kerslake has been battling cancer for a number of years and stated: “It’s prostate cancer but it’s moved to rest of my body. I now have bone cancer which is nasty one, so the doctor gave me about eight months to live. But I’ve been fighting all the way. Five years ago, they gave me four years to live and so that gives you an idea. Not only have I got bone cancer, I’ve got psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, and two heart murmurs. As I said to you, I’m fighting it and there’s no telling what can happen and they might have a new drug come out and I’ll experiment with it if it keeps me alive. I survived this long and all this time. I have had this terminal cancer but I have defied it because the music kept me fighting.”
On whether he’s made peace with the whole Sharon and Ozzy litigation and fights over the years, Kerslake indicated: “Yes I have made peace. It’s all forgotten and forgiven. I’ve written to Sharon and Ozzy recently — a personal letter basically asking them to kindly send me a platinum album certifications for Blizzard of Ozz and/or Diary of a Madman to hang on my wall before I die. It’s on my bucket list. I really wrote a nice letter to them and I hope they will come to terms with it and say ‘Yes’. I went belly-up bankrupt when I lost the case to Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne in the courts. It cost me hundreds of thousands and I had to sell the house and then started to get ill. I never managed to get back up but a platinum certification on my wall for these albums would be fantastic and it would say I help create those albums.”
Interview with Lee Kerslake by The Metal Voice:
Contact for donations Lee Kerslake Facebook https://www.facebook.com/KerslakeLee Lee Kerslake Twitter https://twitter.com/leekerslake47?lang=en Jimmy Kay from Canada’s The Metal Voice spoke to former Ozzy Osbourne, Uriah Heep drummer Lee Kerslake.