NIGHT RANGER GUITARIST BRAD GILLIS DISCUSSES OZZY AND KISS
Greg Prato of Guitar World spoke with Night Ranger guitarist Brad Gillis, some excerpts appear below.
Guitar World: What are some other memories of your time with Ozzy?
Brad Gillis: You have to realize that after the sad death of Randy Rhoads, the band was going through a lot of emotional stress throughout the rest of the tour. So, when I joined the band, it was quite a heavy situation.
Bernie Tormé was playing guitar at that time in the interim, before a permanent replacement was added. And when I flew to New York for the audition, I basically found out it was just me. So, I did the best I could practicing in my hotel room every day, with a small amp, a boombox and a live board cassette with Randy that had been recorded a few months earlier.
At night, I would go to the shows to watch the live performance from the soundboard. I was amazed at the large castle, fire, explosives, and the hanging of the dwarf – realizing that in a few days, I was going to be up on stage. I’ll never forget the sound man looking over at me and laughing, saying, ‘You’re next buddy!’
My first night was quite a horrendous experience – because not only was I scared to death, at soundcheck, we only played seven out of the 18-song set, and Ozzy didn’t even show up. My first gig was sold out in Binghamton, New York for 8,000 people. That was basically my entrance into Ozzy’s world.
I ended up botching Revelation (Mother Earth), as I ended up coming into the fast section too early, and the whole band looked at me like, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ I stopped playing, regained my composure, and finished out the song and the set – with no other major mistakes.
The next night before we went on stage, Sharon [Osbourne, Ozzy’s wife] came up to me, saying, ‘Bradley, you’re doing a great job. But tonight… don’t fuck up.’”
Guitar World: Did you ever meet Randy Rhoads?
Brad Gillis: I never had that chance. But I did see Ozzy and Randy in 1981 at the Day on the Green in Oakland, California. And at that time, Randy was being touted as ‘the next Eddie Van Halen’. And when I saw that show, I was totally blown away by his performance.
Around that time, I had a club band called the Alameda All Stars, that I had thrown together in 1980 to keep my chops up, playing locally in the San Francisco Bay area – and we threw in a few Ozzy songs [Crazy Train and Flying High Again].
I first met Ozzy in the master suite at the Helmsley Palace Hotel in New York. I had my red Strat, no amp, and played him Flying High Again.
How surreal to be sitting at the edge of his bed, with him cross-legged on the floor singing up to me while I played the song. Once I got through the solo he jumped up, gave me a big hug, and said, ‘Brad, I love you. Pull me through.”‘
Guitar World: Night Ranger opened for KISS on their Creatures of the Night tour – that must have been something special.
Brad Gillis: That was a great experience for us. I had just finished up seven months with Ozzy, so stepping into opening for KISS was comfortable to me getting right back into large venues.
The guys in KISS – especially Gene and Paul – were very gracious and gave us good stage room and loved to hang out. At one point, I actually tried on Gene’s 30-pound stage boots.
Read more at Guitar World.
In related news, Night Ranger released their first single, Bring It All Home To Me, from their forthcoming album ATBPO (which stands for And The Band Played On), which can be heard here. ATBPO will be released on August 6th through Frontiers Music, pre-order the album, here.
Angel, a 15 year old going on 45 year old woman who ran Priest’s fan club and knew the guys and scene very well (Gene told her what great songwriters Priest were) told me back in 1982 that Ozzy got rid of him because he was sucking up to him too much, and if there’s one thing Ozzy can’t stand, it’s a kiss ass…
But I thought Sharon loves a kiss ass, especially someone she can tale advantage of?
Also, let’s not forget, Kelly Garni recounted that Randy Rhoads wrote letters to him, in which he communicated that he was miserable in the band and wanted to return to teaching. Rhoads wrote that once he told Ozzy that he wanted to leave, Ozzy punched him. I would not consider than an act of being a kiss ass, and look what it garnered Randy, you know, the whole Oscar Wilde “No good deed…”
I am sure that Osbourne’s repugnant behavior, at the thought of losing his cash cow, weighed very heavily on him the day Randy died. Because not only did he lose one of his greatest assets (who wanted to leave anyway), but he treated him like dirt, and never got a chance to apologize. I have a feeling if Ozzy had allowed Randy to leave when he wanted to, he might still be alive today.
Just so there is no confusion, I am not blaming Osbourne for Rhoads’ death, I am merely saying that the timing, and circumstances, could have changed past events.
Great observations, Dana. Randy was indeed not happy with Ozzy, as Rudy Sarzo also documents in his book. Gillis also was ready to leave Ozzy, even if true he was fired by Ozzy.
I saw both Rhoads and Gillis each perform with Ozzy on the Diary tour. I bought a tour program at the Gillis show….it still had Rhoads’ pictures in it. I was hoping that meant that Rhoads’ death had been fabricated as a sick publicity stunt and that Rhoads was still alive and would be performing that evening….
Gillis did a great job filling in as Ozzy’s guitarist. I love his playing on Speak of the Devil, which was recorded solely to screw over Sabbath.
Yes, I read Sarzo’s book, aa well. I enjoyed it, but do not remember much (damn age and hormone changes). Also, Daisley’s book was phenomenal.
Well, Ozzy allegedly punched Randy because he wanted him to stay…and Randy was not kissing Ozzy’s ass…maybe if Randy had kissed his ass, Oz would’ve gotten rid of him. I am just repeating verbatim what Angel told me back when this stuff happened. and she would know. I have a great memory too.
Also, Sharon actually didn’t manage Oz until after Diary …Don Arden managed him at the beginning of his career…there’s a lot of misinformation about Don; he was a great manager…people just believe the musicians because they love their music and believe their pity stories…The truth is they blew all their money on drugs and hookers and them accused him of stealing from them…Don never stole a dime from any of his bands.
Well, Lita wrote that she loved him in her book, and stated that he was a great manager. But, she felt like all male managers, he did not know what to do with her. So, she called Sharon figuring a woman would know how to market her better. Lita wrote that she had no idea that Sharon and her father were rivals at that point, she thought they were still working together.
I am not trying to start anything…I was really just reminiscing on how great it was to talk to Angel wehn I was 15 years old…she used to let me call her collect…she sent me pictures of her and Priest when they were on the Screaming for Vengeance tour…I can just go back to my abstract ideas…my latest is that Tom G Warrior and Kip Winger are the same person on twin planets where they ended up complete opposites.
I am sorry, I was not trying to dismiss what you were told, I was merely stating what I thought, especially since Randy seemed like such a sweetheart, and I am sure it took a lot for him to tell Ozzy he wanted to leave. He must have been at the end of his emotional rope, because he seemed like the type of person that would not want to disappoint Ozzy or the fans.
I remember Rudy, in his book, talked about that Sabbath live album that Ozzy and Sharon demanded Randy play on, and Randy hated that idea so much that it made him want to leave the band …Lita should’ve stayed with Don, his ideas for his artists were usually right…Thanks, Dana 🙂
She actually credits Sharon for making her more of a household name. She wrote that Sharon took her career to the next level by helping her get on better, far more high profile tours, assisting with her “image” and videos.
Unfortunately, after awhile, as much as she loved Sharon, she wrote that she thought that was trying to sabotage her career, because she thought Sharon suspected that Lita slept with Ozzy.
Lita’s almost exact words in her book were, “Ozzy was sleeping with anything that moved, except me.” But, I guess Sharon was suspicious, and Lita is a very pretty lady, but nothing could have been father from what Sharon believed.
Great interview from Guitar World! 1 of the best I’ve read in a long time, very intriguing. Thanks for posting, Dana! 😉 Gillis is such an underrated guitarist it’s ridiculous!
Thanks great interview. He is very underrated. Night Ranger is also great. Great live with a lot of energyyyy
He is a great and I agree underrated guitarist , stepping into those shows and shoes and then having to deal with sharon …. he deserves a medal –
I’ve never been a fan of night ranger except for rock in America-
“Touch Of Madness,” “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me,” “Eddie’s Comin’ Out Tonight,” “Rumours In The Air,” “Sing Me Away,” “When You Close Your Eyes,” “Night Machine,” “Four In The Morning,” etc…
And of course (You Can Still) Rock In America!
And if none of those songs ^^ get you going, check out “This Boy Needs To Rock!” Right now, this boy needs to sleep, for at least an hour! 😉
Also listen to some of their later stuff. Don’t Let Up has some awesome songs with some amazing riffs. Night Ranger is on my list as one of the most underrated bands of all time! (that would actually be a great topic, 5 most underrated bands).
Just for sh*ts and giggles, here’s my list:
Tesla (yes they are popular but damn they should be HUGE)
REO Speedwagon (don’t laugh, they late 70’s stuff is awesome, especially the underrated Nine Lives)
and some smaller bands that I loved that never made it: Law and Order, Salty Dog, Love/Hate
Mine would be:
Not laughing here, Michael, I LOVE REO Speedwagon! Alot of people don’t realize how hard they rocked in the ’70s, yes, they softened up in the ’80s, but they still made a lot of great music!
Another band that should have been HUGE – Triumph!! Extremely underrated great band!
Add Badlands to the list. Voodoo Highway is a gem from top to bottom, not a bad song in the mix. Another band that should have been HUGE!!
I really love the Ozzy Speak of the Devil live album with Brad Gillis. Brad has his own sound, playing Sabbath songs which always amazes me coming from Night Ranger which is not a metal band at all. I love Night Ranger. Brad really put out a great live release with Ozzy. The album has its own sound and Brad does a great job on it! Now why Ozzy put out a live release with Sabbath songs at that time is another story. I really enjoyed reading this article!