Whatever you think of the Osbournes and their bizarre public persona, there is no denying the force of Ozzy Osbourne's career turn in the early-1980s. Black Sabbath had dried up creatively and irreconcilable differences between the band members led Ozzy to strike out on his own with a new band. Wife Sharon Osbourne effectively rescued her husband from the worst of his drink problems, and helped him manage a fresh four-piece lineup that included the prodigious Randy Rhoads on guitar.
Ozzy's first two albums gained critical and commercial success by fusing heavy metal riffs and guitar solos with pop harmonies and song structures. In later years he veered too close to the synth-laden pop side for many people's tastes, but on Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman the combination was held in equilibrium by the neo-classical sensibilities of Rhoads, who co-wrote many of the songs.
The tragedy of Randy Roads' premature death at the hands of a light aircraft joy ride in 1982 is well documented. The news left Ozzy and his touring band distraught, and it's this personal connection that makes the video below so touching. Rhoads' searing guitar tone is captured magnificently on the master tape of Ozzy's first solo single, "Crazy Train", and it is a bittersweet experience for the singer to listen back 34 years later.
He has since fallen out with original bassist and drummer Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake, even going as far as re-recording their performances on a subsequent remaster of the album to deny them future royalties. And yet, despite these rifts and Ozzy's longstanding obsession with the occult and all things profane, his connection with Rhoads' brief but prolific spell of work is always treated as sacred.