On November 7, 1981, Ozzy Osbourne released his second solo album, "Diary of a Madman".
It's Ozzy Osbourne's last studio album with the talented guitarist Randy Rhoads, who even surpassed himself in comparison to the previous album Blizzard Of Ozz, both in writing and playing, and it's hard not to think how his next albums with Ozzy would have looked like had he not passed away.
Listen for example to the theme song "Diary of a Madman" that closes the album and you will understand what we are talking about. Randy Rhoads is at his peak, he managed to concoct in his genius an epic work bordering Progressive, while throwing into the bubbling dark cauldron the best influences on him as a child, classical music, opera and of course virtuoso and electrifying guitar playing reminiscent of his idols, including Ritchie Blackmore. Bassist Bob Daisley said that when he and Randy played the song for Ozzy for the first time, Ozzy's jaw fell to the floor and the first thing that came out of his mouth was: Who the hell do you think I am Frank Zappa? How am I supposed to sing it at all? It's not for me. Ozzy's instinctive reaction was in place. It's a very dynamic song that features unconventional rhythms and complex transitions that reflect Rhodes' musical abilities, who received a musical education from childhood and even became a teacher himself at his mother's music school. The lyrics were written by Bob Daisley About himself and the nervous breakdown he experienced when he was 16. He thought that as a sensitive child he was his own greatest enemy and that he slowly filled the "diary" with his problems until that breakdown. The title of the song was influenced by a 1963 film of the same name starring Vincent Price and Daisley thought it would be very appropriate for Ozzy and his insane character.
This song is just one example of the musical development of Ozzy Osbourne and his band members on this album. While it was clear that the goal was to try and recreate the success of the previous album Blizzard Of Ozz, the band still takes it one step further, In terms of writing, sound and production. It is amazing to think that this result was achieved even though the album was written and recorded in less than two months, under pressure from the record company to finish it before the tour scheduled for the band. For example, Randy's solo in the song "Little Dolls" is a demo that the band did not have time to replace with a more polished one. This mighty song that opens the other side of the vinyl with Lee Kerslake's marching drumming refers to black magic and voodoo dolls, and features Randy Rhoads' relatively modest solo, for the reason that it was a demo designed to guide Rhoads how to play the real solo during the recording.
The album opens up with the amazing drum "dribbles" of "Over the Mountain" that leads us to the dominant and powerful riff of Randy Rhoads. It is interesting to note that drummer Frankie Banali known from Randy Rhodes' previous band "Quiet Riot" claimed that he was the one who invented the basis for drumming in this song. He claims he played in a rehearsal room in Los Angeles with Randy and Ozzy in the early stages of the band train and one of the first sketches of this song was played there.
Immediately after that, "Flying High Again" emerges with the stretched riff and mid-pace rhythm. Many thought this song was about getting addicted to cannabis, but Ozzy denied it and caimed it reffers to his solo career causing him to “fly high” again after the free fall from "Black Sabbath".
Here is the place to note that Ozzy did not write the lyrics of this song alone. Similar to what happened on the previous album, here too the songs on the album were written by Randy Rhoads, drummer Lee Kerslake and bassist Bob Daisley, who claimed to have written all the lyrics without exception. Despite that, the credit for the album cover was given to drummer Tommy Aldridge and bassist Rudy Sarzo, Randy's friend from "Quiet Riot", whose photos even adorned the inside cover of the album. In 1986, Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake sued Ozzy for non-payment of royalties for their part in writing the songs. In response Ozzy re-recorded the bass and drum parts on these two albums, along with drummer Mike Bordin from "Faith No More" and bassist Robert Trujillo and released in 2002 a remix of the album with the bass and drum channels replaced. Eventually Justice was served after Daisley's bass and Kreslake drum roles were returned to the album in the 30th anniversary of its release.
The third track "You Can't Kill Rock and Roll" is one of the ballads of the album and is without a doubt one of the best from it. 7 minutes of pure and refined magic with an amazing technique by Randy Rhoads that highlights his two contrasts in playing. On the one hand the classical music and on the other hand the electrifying heavy metal. An amazing song whose only title justifies its entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The first side of the vinyl ends with "Believer", which opens with Daisy's beating bass that serves as solid ground for Rhodes' heavy, dark riff that corresponds with Ozzy's previous band and could easily be part of one of their albums, especially when listening to the genius transition section at its center.
Right after "Little Dolls" which we wrote about above, comes the second ballad of the album "Tonight". This time it's Power Ballad in the full sense of the word. A melodic and moving song that brings out and highlights the soft and charming side of Ozzy out.
The song "S.A.T.O." Illustrates the sad side of Ozzy. The song written by Daisley was originally called "Strange Voyage" and was influenced by a letter written by Buddhist Nichiren Daishonin and was called "A Ship to Cross the Sea of Suffering. After Daisley and Lee Kerslake were kicked out of the band Ozzy and Sharon changed it to "S.A.T.O." Which are actually the acronyms for Sharon Osbourne's full name - Sharon Arden, Thelma Osbourne.
Upon its release, the album received good reviews and it also sold well in relation to the debut album, although it did not include "hits" that marched high in the various charts.
Very sadly, just four months after the release of this album, on 3/18/1982, Randy Rhoads made his last appearance with Ozzy Osborne at the Civic Coliseum in Knoxville, Tennessee. The next day, the band made their way by bus to Orlando, Florida, where they were scheduled to perform at a festival. The bus broke down on the way and the band parked near a small airport in the estate of the travel company manager, to fix the malfunction. Bus driver Andrew Aycock, who was also a certified pilot, took keyboardist Don Airey and the tour manager on one of the small planes. He passed very close to the bus in an attempt to wake up drummer Tommy Aldridge who was sleeping inside at the time. In the second round the bus driver took Randy Rhoads and the costume designer and tried to do the same pranks, the plane circled several times above the bus, only this time the plane's wing touched the bus and crashed into the mansion. Randy Rhoads died on the spot.
Before concluding we will refer to the album cover. So for those who are wondering who the child who appears on it is, this is Ozzy's son from his first marriage - Louis.