ICONIC GUITARIST GEORGE LYNCH DISCUSSES GUITAR LEGEND RANDY RHOADS AND HOW HE WAS UP FOR THE GUITAR PLAYER POSITION IN OZZY OSBOURNE’S BAND “ON THREE DIFFERENT OCCASIONS”
Iconic guitarist George Lynch was recently interview with Canada’s The Metal Voice where he was asked if he had any kind of contact with legendary Ozzy Osbourne axeman Randy Rhoads when they were both on the Los Angeles rock scene in the late 1970s. He responded (as transcribed by blabbermouth.net), “We played shows together frequently. We rehearsed at the same rehearsal facility and shared the same rooms, so we had a lot of opportunities to hang out and share licks and talk occasionally. We weren’t friends or anything, but we were in the same business and we ran in the same circles and ran into each other all the time. I’d known that he appreciated my playing and liked my playing, and he would bring people to see me frequently, including his mom.”
He continued, “We were both [up] for Ozzy a number of times, and I was up for it on three different occasions, and one of them was the time that Randy got it over me. And then the understanding was that between whichever one of us got it, the other one would teach at Musonia [School Of Music, which was founded more than 70 years ago by Randy’s mother, Delores Rhoads]. Well, I got the consolation prize. He told his mom that if anything ever happened with him that he would want me to maybe fill in if possible, if I’d be willing to, so I did.”
Lynch reportedly tried out for the position of Ozzy’s lead guitarist in 1979 — losing to Rhoads — and another time in 1982, when Osbourne was looking for someone to replace Brad Gillis. According to Lynch, he was preparing to step into the role before Ozzy changed his mind and decided to go with Jake E. Lee instead.
George went into more detail about his Ozzy auditions during a 2019 interview with Ultimate Guitar. At the time, he said, “I never played a show [with Ozzy]. I played soundchecks. [Laughs] So I would travel with the band to kind of see how everything worked, and they would get to know me, and that kind of thing. But, I never went on stage during a show. But I would be in the wings at soundcheck, and Brad Gillis, who was the guitar player at the time, would come over and hand me his guitar and I would play a song or two. And then we went into rehearsals. I rehearsed with them. I brought in a bass player, Don Costa, who was Ozzy’s bass player for a little while. We rehearsed in Texas for a while.”
“The touring was in Scotland and England and Ireland,” he continued. “And then we moved everything over to Los Angeles, and that’s where I was told that they wouldn’t be needing my services in the 11th hour after I’d been working with them for a couple of months.”
Lynch remembered that he was “very devastated” when Osbourne offered the gig to Lee over him. “My wife was with me,” he said. “I had quit my job. We had two little kids. We had an apartment. We really didn’t have much money, so it was a great opportunity for me. I was a delivery driver for a liquor company, and I would kind of deliver booze into the not-so-good areas; nobody else wanted to drive into those areas so I took that job. It was a good union job, so I made enough money to support us. And I had to quit that job to go do the Ozzy thing. And when they fired me like that… And they didn’t pay me, and they didn’t give me any compensation. They didn’t ask me if I was okay or anything. They just didn’t care. They just said… It was literally, like… It took, like, a minute. Ozzy just said, ‘Hey, it’s not gonna be working out. Thanks a lot for your time. And see ya later. Bye.’ [Laughs] Yeah, my jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe it. My heart just dropped and… Yeah, I think I cried on the way home. [Laughs] It was very devastating.”
Lynch also believed there were other factors that ultimately contributed to Osbourne choosing Jake as his new guitar player.
“I remember [Ozzy] was bald at the time,” George told Ultimate Guitar. “He kept coming into my room and asking me why I cut my hair. Because I had short hair for my job. I told him that he was bald. [Laughs] So I thought, ‘Well, maybe I could just go bald like you, and then we could be a couple of cue balls up there. Or I can wear a wig until my hair grows out.’ He had a problem with that.”
That was one of the reasons, I think, I didn’t get [the Ozzy gig] — was my image,” Lynch added. “Jake E. had a great image — hair down his ass, [and he] showed up all leathered. He looked great. He admittedly didn’t play that great [at the audition], but he looked fantastic. And I think Sharon [Ozzy’s wife and manager] was really calling the shots, and Sharon wanted somebody that looked right. And she felt that Jake E. was the look they were going for. I don’t think she cared too much about the playing. Not that Jake E. wasn’t capable — Jake E. is great, obviously — he didn’t have a great audition. But he plays fantastic.”