Lee Kerslake enjoyed several hugely successful decades at the kit for Uriah Heep, but it's possibly his controversial stint with Ozzy Osbourne's solo band for which he's most instantly known.
The drummer played on Ozzy's Blizzard Of Ozz and Diary Of A Madman albums, both of which were smash hits. But he soon found himself ousted from the band, and he was nearly ruined by the legal wrangling that followed. In the summer issue of Rhythm, we spoke to Lee about his time with Heep, Ozzy and much more, and here's what he had to say about the good and the bad of his time with the Black Sabbath icon.
Had you heard of Randy Rhoads before joining Ozzy's band?
I knew Bob [Daisley, bassist] from Widowmaker, we were friends. We went into Shepperton Studios, Bob had already sent me a couple of tracks, 'Crazy train' and 'I Don't know'. i'd never heard of Randy. Bloody hell, what a player! I was trying to be cool, but I went, 'Wow, that guy's a genius, he's out of this world.' I've never heard a guitarist like him. I joined, we started writing and we wrote for about four days, the whole album. My forte was vocal melodies and I'd sing a verse and then Bob would write the whole song. It was great. It just rolled out. Randy would have a part on guitar, I'd go, 'No, play this part,' and I'd sing him a guitar part and it would work. No one said, 'I don't want to play that.' Bob would say to me, 'Double up on the middle eight.' 'All right.' Everything went great and it showed on the album."
Did you tour between recording Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman?
"We did one English tour, I think eight or nine shows, Hammersmith up to Scotland. Then while we were doing that Sharon was on the road with Ozzy and she turned around and said we've got to do another album. I went, 'okay, but this time we want some money up front. We can't do an album unless we're turning over money, so find us some money and we'll do it.' She wrote me a cheque, bounced it on me. It brought me to ruin. and then she got rid of us at the same time. Not nice."
Was there any uncertainty about Ozzy's viability as a solo artist?
There was no doubt he could do it. He didn't want to do it, he put every barrier in the way, all he wanted to do was feel sorry for himself, get drunk. But we worked on him. We got to him. He got to us and we got to him. I liked him, I liked the son-of-a-bitch, I really did. I got on well with him. Sharon got her claws into him and I'm not going to knock her for her talent, she's a clever, very hard woman.
"We gave her the first couple of million, set her up, she rolled it into hundreds of millions, but what iI don't like about her is she cheated me, Bob and Randy out of our rightful amounts of money. That would have set me up for life like a pension. It wasn't a lot of ask, a couple of million, but she fought us, the lawyer cost her six million to fight us then they threw it out of court, statute of limitations. I'll never forgive her for that. I can't because that nearly killed me. I nearly took my life. I just felt so cheated. What am I doing in this business? I've done everything I can by the book, I've never cheated anybody, all I've done is give them my talent and they've ripped me off. i was doing a good job of drinking myself to death. a good friend of mine said, 'Stop feeling sorry for yourself, get off your a**e,' and I pulled myself out."
For more from Lee Kerslake pick up the summer issue of Rhythm.Read more about