“I think he ended up being a better fit with Ozzy than I ever was.”
During a recent interview with UG’s David Slavković, Ozzy Osbourne’s former guitarist Jake E. Lee talked about his time in the band, while also touching on other musicians who were in his position.
You can check out the conversation below.
In 1987, you were replaced by Zakk Wylde. Have you listened to any of the Ozzy stuff since Zakk joined the band? And what do you think of Zakk?
“I think Zakk’s an incredible guitar player. I like his playing. I have little bit of a problem with his pinch harmonics… [Laughs] Which everybody does. But apparently, he likes them and that’s part of his playing.
“He’s a great guitar player. I mean, shit, ‘No More Tears’ – he plays slide in the verse. I never would have thought of that. It’s so unique and awesome. I think only he could have ever done that.
“I think he ended up being a better fit with Ozzy than I ever was. Although I’ll say, he would have never worked right away, despite the fact that he would have been too young. I don’t think his style of playing or even his look would work immediately after Randy [Rhoads].
“Because it would have been a little bit too similar. And what Ozzy needed right after Randy was something different but as good in a different way. At least visually, I was completely different from Randy.
“And playing-wise, I was fairly different from Randy too. And he [Ozzy] had to have something like that to establish himself as a credible presence on the music scene, not depending on any one particular guitar player or even style or look.
“So I do think I was a perfect guy to come in after Randy. And I do think Zakk was the perfect guy to come in after me. And he did it with a bang.
“I was hoping, a little piece of me was hoping [Ozzy’s first album with Zakk, 1988’s] ‘No Rest for the Wicked’ was gonna kind of suck. [Laughs] You can’t help it. You want to – ‘Oh, look, he’s not as good without me.’ But it was an incredible record. And kudos to Zakk, he did a great job.”
Could you maybe name your favorite and your least favorite Ozzy Osbourne guitarist? Not including yourself, of course.
“Um… No, I can’t do that. I really don’t like comparing guitar players. After you get to a certain level, it really is…
“Well you did say favorite, you didn’t say ‘best.’ [Laughs] Because best would be impossible. It all depends on your taste and personal preferences. Favorite…
“Well, Randy. I’m discounting myself of course. Zakk’s incredible and he’s done some really good stuff, but Randy, for no other reason than that it was Ozzy’s first thing out of Sabbath and Randy’s style and playing really kicked it up to where he couldn’t be ignored.
“And we don’t get to hear anything else from Randy. So that makes it special for me.”
Is there any particular song or solo that you’re most proud of during your time in Ozzy’s band?
“I would say ‘Killer of Giants’ [off 1986’s ‘The Ultimate Sin’]. I wrote the intro for it and I like how it established a certain chord progression and mood and then moves on to the next one, then moves on to the next one and never goes back. It continually moves forward and doesn’t restate any previous music…
“It’s not until we go into the heart of the song that we actually start repeating anything. And I always loved how it was almost more of an orchestral piece where it was constantly changing, evolving, and not harking back to anything.
“And my solo – I did the tap on octaves and slides. I’ve seen it online recently… Because if you watch me play live, I do the tap on octaves. But I remember when it first came out and people were tabbing it out, they always said that I overdubbed it. [Laughs]
“Which pissed me off because… No, it was a hard thing to do. And I learned to do it and I played it like that on the record. And then they just said that I obviously overdubbed it, which I didn’t. So I’m happy that people have dug in and played the solo the right way.
“Anyway, long story, but ‘Killer of Giants.’ It’s probably one of my most favorite proudest moments of anything I’ve done.”
Jake and his band Red Dragon Cartel have released a new album titled “Patina” on November 9. You can check it out in full below.