A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

The Era Of The Song

The whole “we know how our favourite artists look” era is over. Blame MTV for making it happen in the first place.

Music television made the musicians mega stars. They took them from the magazines and the concert stages and put them into our TV rooms. It made an act that would maybe move 100,000 units in the pre-MTV era and turned them into Platinum superstars during the MTV era.

But the MTV era is history.

The era of recognising an artist and mobbing them is history. No one even cares how artists look these days. The song is back at the forefront as it should be.

It’s all about the song. Without it, you have nothing.

Pop Music might be in the press and reality TV shows might get the ink, the good thing (from a metal/rock head perspective) about those products is that their lifespans are limited. Their whole deal is the look. The song is irrelevant.

Meanwhile, the real good rock and metal artists are just working away and crafting their art, year after year. Music is a game of survival.

I remember I had a VIP pass for Coheed and Cambria’s Sydney show a few years ago. At that point in time we (my cousin and I) were not sure if it was going to be a meet and greet or an acoustic show. I was going up to the concert with my cousin and we were talking about the other band members. Apart from the distinctive look of Claude Sanchez, the other band members look like computer programmers.

If we saw the other band members in a line up we wouldn’t be able to make them out.

Which was a far contrast to the month before and the larger than life personas of Motley Crue and Kiss.

So we started talking about other current bands that we like. We both agreed that Robb Flynn and Adam Dutkiewicz are unique enough to be recognisable.

Yesterday’s hero is forgotten today. The internet machine makes them and spits them out. The only thing that survives is the song and that song needs to be great. It’s an artists greatest weapon in the battle for people to pay attention to you and to hang on your every world.

That is why I find Top 10 album lists interesting, because while they place the album high on a list, the ink attached to the album is all about the song on the album that connects with them. On occasions a few songs hit the mark. Very rarely do all of the songs on an album hit the mark.

For example, I am a pretty hard-core Zakk Wylde fan. The first reason was that he paid a true homage to Randy Rhoads (whom I am even a bigger fan off) when he joined Ozzy. While Jake E Lee and Brad Gillis tweaked and changed Randy’s solos, Zakk Wylde played them note for note. I remember a quote he made in “Guitar World” years ago when the magazine interviewer asked what is the thing that he likes the most about being with Ozzy. He said it was like being in a glorified cover band where you get to play your own shit along with songs from Black Sabbath, Randy Rhoads and Jake E.Lee in front of thousands of people each night.

Last year, Black Label Society released “Catacombs Of The Black Vatican”. The song “Angel Of Mercy” stood out right away. It is a constant on my playlist. If I had to do a Top Ten album list, then the album would be in that list purely because of that one song.

I dare anyone to name the full track list of their top ten albums for 2014 without having to refer to a visual aid to remember. It’s because we can’t. I would love too, like times of old, but I guess things change.

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Unsung Heroes

George Lynch and Don Dokken

The history of George Lynch is a complex one to say the least. He auditioned for Ozzy’s band at the same time as Randy Rhoads did. Once Randy got the gig, Lynch got Randy’s teaching gig. He auditioned again after the tragic death of Randy Rhoads and this time he lost out to Jake E.Lee.

And then Dokken broke through with “Tooth And Nail”. They continued that momentum with “Under Lock And Key” and “Back For The Attack”.

And then it was over. Don Dokken said that it was the ego of George Lynch that broke up Dokken. Ego is a very ambiguous word to use. Ego means a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance, so I can’t see how if a person has a high self-esteem it can be seen as a negative or bad enough to break up a band.

What we do know is that Don Dokken was the one that got the original recording deal with Elektra Records. He got that recording deal based on songs that George Lynch and Mick Brown had written in their earlier bands.

This is the way Mick Brown told it:

“He took some material that George and I had wrote and took it to Germany and pretty much put his name on it, you know what I am saying (laughing) and he got a recording contract. So he called me up to play. I looked over at George and I said George, this guy’s got our music and he’s got a record deal and we were pretty upset about that because he’s got our songs. But then we also thought, it’s kind of an open door so we went along with it. I think probably when people talk about the turmoil in Dokken, that was pretty much the moment where it all started. I remember Don asking us to, if he could take some of our songs over there to try and get something going in Europe and we said “No” but he did anyway.”

And this is the way Don Dokken told it:

“When I went to Germany to get the record deal, they wanted to sign me as a solo artist. The original album, Breaking The Chains originally came out in Europe and the band was called was called Don Dokken. It was pretty rare. There were 500 copies of it that said “Don” on the cover. So when we got the band together, I just dropped the “Don” and we became Dokken.”

INSERT: Disagreement Number one.

The label then would not give any extra shares to George Lynch or Mick Brown, so the monies came from Don Dokken’s slice of the pie which was already pretty shitty and that pie got diminished even further when Jeff Pilson joined. This battle for an equal split proved to be a source of animosity.

INSERT: Disagreement Number two.

Remember Vivian Campbell. He was livid that he didn’t get an equal split from Dio. Randy Rhoads confronted Ozzy about the “Blizzard Of Ozz” band and why the album was going to be marketed as Ozzy Osbourne’s solos act.

However the most stupid thing any band could do is split up at their commercial peak.

On a press tour for the “Back For The Attack” Don Dokken said the following about George Lynch:

“I don’t dig him and he don’t dig me. But we respect each other as musicians. He can be a total jerk, but I’m not that easy to get along with either.”

Dokken (the band) at the time of the split were ready to re-negotiate their deal. They had the leverage and the sales on the board. They had Q-Prime Management on board. According to Lynch, Don Dokken didn’t want to share any new deal. He saw it as his band, with his name on it and any new deal would involve Don Dokken only with the remaining band members reduced to hired guns.

According to Lynch, Dokken told the band the following:

“I’m gonna try to take the whole thing and run with it, and you guys are gonna get left in the dust, and if you’re lucky, I might hire you.”

In the end, the band split. George Lynch and Mick Brown got a deal with Elektra Records while Don Dokken got wined and dined by Geffen Records and eventually signed a deal with them. Jeff Pilson, who was in my mind the better songwriter got going with various other creative outlets. According to Pilson, the band had a lot of egos and it was those egos that got in the way.

“It wasn’t really that different from other bands with the exception that we aired our dirty laundry in public.”

That is true.

After the split, the bickering didn’t end there.

In 1990, George Lynch, Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown went to court to stop Don Dokken from using his surname for any new solo band. They heard that Don Dokken was planning to release his first solo album as Dokken II. This didn’t sit well with them and they went to court to get an injunction to stop Don Dokken from using the name Dokken or Dokken II.

However, what Lynch and Dokken did was shoot each other in the foot. A good vocalist will always need a good guitarist and a good guitarist will always need a good vocalist. This is the secret of a lot of the bands successes. Vivian Campbell had Ronnie James Dio. George Lynch had Don Dokken. John Sykes had David Coverdale. Jimmy Page had Robert Plant. Paul Kossoff had Paul Rodgers. Mick Ralphs had Paul Rodgers.

And being in a band is not a guarantee. In the October 1989 issue of Guitar World it was a period of change for a lot of guitarists. Steve Stevens was on the cover with the headline, “Life After Billy Idol”. There was also a boxed picture of George Lynch with the headline “Bye-Bye Dokken”. Jake E.Lee was also featured talking about Badlands and life after Ozzy.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Tooth And Nail

The “Breaking the Chains” clip was all over MTV but no one was buying the album of the same name.

The band was doing an arena tour with Blue Oyster Cult and the label still wanted to drop them.

“Tooth and Nail” was Dokken’s last shot. The band recorded it and then they went back to their day jobs. Mick Brown and George Lynch went back to driving trucks while Don Dokken went back to buying, fixing and selling cars.

Then the album blew up.

Listening to “Tooth and Nail” today, thirty years since it was released, I can honestly say it holds up well. Everything that I loved about the album back then, I still like today.

Put aside the band politics and the legendary Lynch/Dokken wars. Just pay attention to the songs, especially the backs to the wall attitude that you can hear emanating from the speakers.

“Without Warning” kicks it off the one/two punch, with its ominius minor key build, before it breaks into the frantic “Tooth N Nail”. The song is written by Mick Brown, George Lynch and Jeff Pilson and it is a definitive piece of hard rock and heavy metal. To me , the song is up there in the same throne room as the work that Randy Rhoads did with Ozzy.

Desperate living, driving me mad
Writings on the wall
Crushed all our hopes and the dreams we once had
Just to watch them fall

What a lyric. It’s Dokken’s last chance. The hopes of a musical career was hanging in the balance. The writing was on the wall if they didn’t deliver and in desperation, quality comes. Dokken delivered a speed metal anthem to open up their do or die album.

And with the rise of the “Guitar Hero”, George Lynch really announced his presence, when he delivered a Randy Rhoads inspired lead break that is reminiscent to “Flying High Again”.

Also isn’t it funny how in 1984, the same theme resonated. It was always that “us versus them” attitude. The “We’re Not Gonna Take It” message of Twisted Sister. In this case, “Tooth and Nail” is a protest song against the record label that wanted to drop them.

“When Heaven Comes Down” is another Mick Brown, George Lynch and Jeff Pilson composition. This time they veer into heavy metal territory.

Ashes to ashes, sorrow and shame
Look at the future again
Angels in heaven walking the streets
Searching for someone to blame

Again, when you don’t have the pressure to write to a formula and when you throw everything against the wind, you end up with something great. In this case the subject matter is darker. It is not the usual sex, drugs and rock’n’roll.

“Into the Fire” is a Don Dokken, George Lynch and Jeff Pilson composition and this is more in line with the LA Glam sound hence the reason why it became a single.

“Alone Again” is a Don Dokken and Jeff Pilson composition and for a power ballad it is wicked. How good is that solo section? It is a song within a song lead break.

“Turn On the Action” is another speed metal song by the Mick Brown, George Lynch and Jeff Pilson composition.

“Tooth And Nail” was released at the right time of the hard rock movement and within 12 months it was certified GOLD for sales in the U.S. It paved the way for Dokken to become a household name.

By 1988, Dokken was at that next level of success. They were doing arena’s and selling them out but they imploded. It was selfish. After reading a lot of band biographies, it became clear that keeping bands together is a difficult job.

James Hetfield wanted to bring in a new singer. Then he wanted Lars Ulrich out. But nothing happened and Metallica remained in tact to go on to become the worlds biggest band. That wasn’t the case for Dokken. They splintered and never recovered.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Work Ethic Of Our Fallen Idols Is No Different From Generation to Generation

Music is forever.

Our heroes will die or already have died but their music lives on.

With the power of internet it should be every persons goal to continue to reach new generations of fans, so that they too can also benefit from hearing the work of musicians like Paul Kossoff, Dimebag Darrell, Randy Rhoads, Jimi Hendrix, Chuck Schuldiner and many more.

Paul Kossoff’s career was short at 25 years of age. As a guitarist he was always looking to “have a jam”.

Randy Rhoads just wanted to play guitar, evidenced by taking classical lessons while on tour with Ozzy and then receiving a punch in the face when he told Ozzy that he wanted out.

Jimi Hendrix was always booking studio time and running his different bands through jam sessions over and over again.

Chuck Schuldiner was a technical death metaller who just wanted to be a guitarist in a band and he finally achieved that dream with “Voodoocult” and the progressive “Control Denied”.

One thing that all of these musicians are renowned for regardless of what generation they come from is their prolific musical output, their jamming ethic, their hard work and devotion to the lifer lifestyle of the music business.

Paul Kossoff was involved in 10 studio albums and 2 live albums between 1969 to 1976. Talk about jamming up a storm.

Jimi Hendrix was prolific. Apart from the official releases (three within a year), Hendrix created a musical vault so deep, his family members are still making money from his legacy.

Dimebag Darrell had 4 independent releases and close to 10 years of experience under his belt before “Cowboys From Hell” opened the door for a bigger stage to play on.

Chuck Schuldiner was involved in 9 albums between 1987 and 1999.

It’s always been tough for new bands or artists to make it. From the sixties to now, that toughness hasn’t changed.

The difference between then and now is that there are so many more people making music which in turn makes the current state of the music business highly competitive.

Seen a shortage of ticket sales recently for bands that work hard.

Seen a shortage of ticket sales for the classic rock bands lately.

Of course not.

The music business is thriving. And it is also cram-packed with music that it’s hard for a lot of music to find an audience. There is a reason why Spotify has over 4 million songs that haven’t even been played.

And if any artist wants to be in the hard rock/metal game, then the bar is set very high.

You need to compare yourself to Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Bon Jovi, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Pantera, Megadeth, Free, Ozzy era bands, Motley Crue, Queensryche, Free, Jimi Hendrix.

In the end the importance and essence of great rock music will never fade away and that bar that is sitting very high, will just keep on going higher.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

What Happened to The Guitar Riff?

The mighty Guitar is still in the forefront of all the main hard rock and metal music. Regardless of what music style came and regardless what technological new medium came to kill it off, (like the Eighties midi craze), the mighty guitar has fought its way back time and time again.

Like a true champion it rises up from the canvas. That sound through glass tubes and cones made from paper. What can beat it?

To quote Dark Helmet, “Absolutely Nothing”.

Try as the trend setters might to eliminate distortion, the power chord and it’s many different versions remain unique. The human feel of a guitar is the essential element that makes a song unique and intimate enough to form a connection with a listener. You don’t see people growing up wanting to be clarinet and flute players.

It is an integral part of culture, both past and present. Think of Jimi Hendrix burning one or Pete Townsend smashing one or Randy Rhoads playing that immortal polka dot guitar or Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstein guitar.

Think of all of the album covers that featured a guitar;

Dire Straits – “Brothers In Arms”
Stryper – “To Hell With The Devil”
Def Leppard – “On Through The Night”
AC/DC – Take your pick of the many classic album covers that involve Angus and his trusty Gibson SG.
The Cult – “Sonic Temple”
Van Halen – “Women And Children First”
Bruce Springsteen – “Born To Run”
Jeff Beck – “Guitar Shop”
MSG – “Built To Destroy”
Boston – The self titled debut and “Dont Look Back” covers are iconic.

At the moment, the number 1 hits around the world are “The Monster” by Eminem/Rihanna, “Timber” by Pitbull/Keisha and Happy by Pharrell Williams. Not a lot of guitar in those songs and if there is guitar, it is in the background, relegated to a support act.

It is not the main instrument in popular culture anymore.

The guitar is disappearing from popular culture.

So what happened.

So what happened to that riff that connects. The one that we can play air guitar to.

Commercial sensibilities are trumping artistic sensibilities.

Rock and Metal bands are churning out songs. Good songs. Great choruses. But no definitive riff. We hum the melodies, we tap the groove, but we don’t do the der, der, derr on the riff. For those who don’t know what the “der, der der” is, it is “Smoke On The Water” from Deep Purple.

Avenged Sevenfold came close with the “Hail To The King” album. Pissed off a lot of people in the process. They called them copycats. But they had the balls to create a classic rock album. And Classic Rock albums are created from influences.

Machine Head nailed it with “Be Still and Know” and “Unto The Locust”. But because of their niche, popular culture would never even know about it. Too ignorant to care.

Maybe it is the downtuning. Maybe it is the speed. Maybe it is the focus on the melody to be catchy.

One thing is certain, there are no riff driven songs, with a great hook doing 100,000,000 streams on Spotify. All of those numbers belong to Imagine Dragons, Avici, Daft Punk and a whole host of EDM artist and pop artists that have songs written by Max Martin.

And one last thing, for all the doubters that Spotify is hurting artists.

Check out this story.

Yep an independent artist that uses Tunecore as its digital distributor has earned from September 2010 to November 2013, $334,636 for over 57 million plays. It’s easy money earned by people listening to his music on a consistent basis. It’s that simple. It’s that pure. We create music so people can listen to it. First and foremost. And Spotify along with YouTube are here, telling the creators which songs are being listened too.

Isn’t that a great thing.

But hey, Spotify doesn’t pay artists said the old guard. Bullshit I say.

Spotify pays. It pays well. It is the record labels that don’t filter it down to the artists. It is the same old argument like before of Record labels not paying artists.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

All Aboard: The Randy Rhoads Guitar Train

I remember the day that I got the Tribute tab book.

I put the head phones on and listened to the album over and over while my index finger pointed out/followed the notes. After that first listen I went to the guitar, tuned up and started to play the basic riffs. After playing through the tab book in that fashion, I went back to the head phones and started following the notes again. I didn’t know it at the time but by doing this I was storing the image of the progressions in my mind. In a weird way, that is how I started to remember the songs.

Then I went back to the guitar and played through the whole album again with a lot of mistakes around the lead breaks.

I did this routine for months until I perfected the album. The music of Randy Rhoads became my bible. It was a religion. 32 years have passed and the legend remains. The memories remain. The teacher remains.

I remember the time when I traded my cousin a few Twisted Sister 12 inch singles for the “Quiet Riot II” album with Randy Rhoads. I needed to have it. My cousin wouldn’t part with it. I kept on persisting and finally he agreed. I was on a train to his place the same day.

Studying the style of Randy Rhoads, I learned all about modes and the different scales that are made from each note of the mode, like Ionian, Phyrgian, Dorian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and Locrian. I even named my son after one of the modes. It’s so easy to dismiss musical theory, however when you have an actual song that you can refer to, it makes it so much more easier to learn.

Wolf Marshall did an unbelievable job with the book transcription and on the commentary on each song. Actually Wolf Marshall was the transcription god back then. Another was Dave Whitehill. Experienced, super-talented and knowledgeable guitar players that broke down so many doors with their transcriptions and made it easier for young guitar players to pick up the guitar and practice.

“Crazy Train” was the first song I mastered. At the time, Alex Sklonick also had a column in the magazine “Guitar For The Practicing Musician”. In one of those columns, Skolnick also talked about modes and how “Crazy Train” is in the key of A Major and how it switches between the minor and major modes throughout the song. At the time it was a lot to take in however once you get it, you get it. Plus having a song like Crazy Train to refer too, who wouldn’t get it.

That one song has all the tools that every guitarist should possess.

Power Chords. CHECK. The All- Aboard part, the pre chorus and the chorus.
Pedal Point Riff. CHECK. The Intro F#m riff, along with the verse riff.
Movable Chord Shapes over a Pedal Point. CHECK. The whole verse riff that moves from A to E to D.
Finger Tapping. CHECK. Lead Break
Hammer Ons and Pull Offs. CHECK. In the Chorus and the Lead Break and sprinkled throughout the verse riffs.
Legato Lines. CHECK. In the Lead Break.
Palm Muting. CHECK. In the F#m riff and the lead break.
Alternate Picking. CHECK. Throughout the whole song.
Bends. CHECK. In the Chorus lead interludes and the Lead Break.

And then when you start to go through all of the other songs, you see/hear all of the above tools re-used, which re-enforces all the techniques. Some songs had finger picking and arpeggios. Randy Rhoads was the definition of completeness.

By creating great music, he also taught us how to be better guitar players. Everything made sense. You can take a teacher and make them a rock star, however you can never stop the rock star from being a teacher and that is exactly what Randy Rhoads was. A teacher.

Bob Daisley on his website released some snippets of what he calls the “Holy Grail”. Small snippets of jam sessions with Randy Rhoads. Hearing them just made me crank the Blizzard, Diary and Tribute albums again.

If something like Spotify was around in the Eighties, imagine the stream metrics these songs would have by now. It’s no surprise that “Crazy Train” is Ozzy’s most played track on Spotify with 15 million plus streams. “Mr Crowley” is up there with 4.9 million streams. Go on YouTube and there are hundreds of channels that have the song, with a lot of views on each channel. One fan channel has over 15 million views. Another has 5 million.

That is Randy Rhoads. His reach on one song is huge. Add to that all the others and it’s a crazy train alright. Rest in peace brother.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Rock Dream Was Never About The Money

Bob Daisley wrote that we are all going off the rails on a crazy train. And that train to the afterlife seems to be departing a lot these days.

People like Tommy Bolin, Paul Kossof, Steve Clark, Phil Lynott, Kevin DuBrow, Robin Crosby, Jani Lane, Brad Delp and Paul Gray never even made it to the station.

Along the way we lost Randy Rhoads in a plane accident, Dimebag Darrel in a tragedy, The Rev in a prescription accident, Ray Gillen to disease, Gary Moore to a heart attack, Jeff Hanneman to liver failure, Chuck Schuldiner to Giloma and Ronnie James Dio, Jon Lord, Phil Kennemore and Randy Castillo to cancer.

Criss Oliva, Marc Bolan, Steve Lee and Mitch Lucker all died in vehicle or motorbike accidents.

If our heroes are not taken young, they end up dying from illness and old age. So when the angel of death spreads its wings, even all the money in the world cannot buy more time. That is why it is important that musicians keep pushing the limits of what is acceptable while they are alive.

It used to be that way once upon a time, however then the record label CEO’s got rich and started to fly private, the musicians that made that happened wanted to be just like them. And that is the problem we have today in the music industry.

Everything that I thought was so important is more or less gone.

The rock dream doesn’t exist if you want to have a family. If you want to have a long term relationship, with kids to the same partner and still live your rock n roll dream, good luck. It aint going to happen. Sacrifices need to be made. And if you are unwilling to make the sacrifice, trust me, your partner will.

The days of rocking all night and partying every day are gone, replaced by social media/gaming/surfing all night and going to work every day. The sound of a stereo is now captured in expensive headphones.

The days of becoming the legends of the local scene first and then the world are gone. If a band/act is doing great in a city, the whole world will know about it.

It’s not a rockers world anymore. The new rockers are the technologists. They are the ones that everyone is listening too. Did you know that Jake E Lee has a new band called Red Dragon Cartel and that they just released a new album?

Once upon a time the guitar heroes mattered. They broke ground in songwriting, technique, sound and guitar making, inspiring us by demonstrating simplicity in complexity. They didn’t know from were they where coming. Now they think about where they are going to. Nothing is started unless an offer is on the table.

And that is what a lot of the new breed of young bands are taking on board, thinking that selling out to corporations in order to get rich is the means to a career. Even Nikki Sixx mentioned that if Motley Crue are to release new music, it will be via a sponsorship agreement with a corporation.

I remember when a record could bring about change. When “Shout At The Devil” broke, every band dressed up in leather and studs. When “Slippery When Wet” broke out, all the bands went to pop metal. When “Appetite For Destruction” broke out, bands moved to a more blues based sound. When Metallica broke out twice, bands moved to a faster dirtier sound and then moved to a big heavy groove orientated sound.

In 2013, Avenged Sevenfold, Five Finger Death Punch and Volbeat had big releases. And to all those musicians who state that releasing new music is not worth it anymore, tell that to the three bands just mentioned. All of them are still selling today, months after their releases.

The rock dream was never about the money. It was about a lifestyle.

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Alternate Reality, Music, My Stories

Alternate Reality – What If Randy Rhoads Didn’t Get On That Plane?

I like “The Family Guy” and I like Brian the family dog. So when Brian got killed off in a recent episode, I was not happy. However when Stewie found a way to go back in time and save Brian, a conversation started at work about which person we would go back in time and save.

I was first to go and my answer was Randy Rhoads. There was no hesitation. What a different musical history we would have if Randy Rhoads lived.

One of the people in the conversation said that if Randy Rhoads lived, then Ozzy’s next album would not have been called “Bark At The Moon” because Jake E Lee would not be on it.

I replied back that the “Bark At The Moon” album would still have been written as Ozzy Osbourne had the song titles already at hand and lyricist Bob Daisley was also on hand to write lyrics again. The big difference would be the music. Instead of hearing the Jake E Lee riff used for “Bark At The Moon” we would be hearing a Randy Rhoads riff instead.

Then another person in the conversation goes that if Jake E Lee wasn’t identified as a hot guitar player, then the Badlands project that I love so dearly would not have existed.

That is true from a certain point of view. It is pretty clear from all the interviews that I had read that Randy Rhoads was growing tired with the touring and the Osbourne camp. However, it was also pretty clear that he was committed to delivering one more album for Ozzy.

So if Randy Rhoads walks away from Ozzy after the “Bark At The Moon” album, who would step in for the next album. Jake E Lee would have seen the band Ratt take off without him and Rough Cutt was nowhere near the level of a platinum selling act.

Maybe Jake E Lee was always meant to break out in 1989 via the Badlands project. Maybe that is how his life was meant to play out. However, Randy Rhoads stepping on that small plane in March 1982 changed everything. Then again if Badlands didn’t exist, would Ray Gillen still be alive today.

So let’s say that Randy leaves Ozzy after the “Bark At The Moon” album to study classical. That means by the end of 1985, Ozzy is in need of a guitarist.

So which guitarist was out of job by then. Vivian Campbell comes to mind as he had a nasty split with Ronnie James Dio.

Keeping with the alternate reality theme, Jake E Lee at this point was not available to join Ozzy’s band as he was hired to replace Vivian Campbell in “Dio’s” band on the recommendation of keyboardist, Claude Schnell. The song “Dream Evil” would have the music that we know as “Bark At The Moon”. Or would it have something entirely different. Jake has said in interviews that for the “Bark At The Moon” album he was throwing riffs and ideas out there and he was getting a lot of rejections and some approvals.

Would it be wise to say that the “Bark At The Moon” music would not have been written in the way that it was without the input from Bob Daisley and Ozzy Osbourne?

Where does this leave Zakk Wylde or Phil Soussan?

What about Quiet Riot (the band)? When Randy Rhoads died in the plane crash, it more or less sealed Rudy Sarzo’s fate and he preceded to quit the Ozzy Osbourne band. Kevin DuBrow then contacted Sarzo and asked him to play on a track called “Thunderbird”, which was a tribute to Rhoads which then led to a full albums worth of material and a name change back to Quiet Riot from DuBrow. So if Quiet Riot never made “Metal Health”, then heavy metal in 1983 would have been in a different state, instead of the multi-platinum army it started to become.

It’s pretty scary when you think of “The Butterfly Effect” principle in relation to this. When I started to play guitar, the live tribute album was my bible. I learned every lick and every riff. If Randy Rhoads lived, then that album would have been released and I would be a totally different guitar player.

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Music

While My Depression Gently Weeps – Part 1 of The Music My Savior Chronicles

I gave up smoking in 2010. My last cigarette was at Thessaloniki Airport, Greece in August, 2010. I had the last drag, coughed and gagged like I was choking and said with determination that I quit.

I haven’t had a smoke since then. You see back in November 2008, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. For a 32 year old, this came as a big surprise. When I went into the doctors surgery complaining of migraines, my blood pressure was 170/120. This was on a Tuesday and the doctor said to come back on a Friday to see if it was just an off-spike. So what did I do after hearing this news.

I started drinking straight whiskey, three shots a day, believing that whiskey will ease the pressure readings. I walk into the Doctor’s office on Friday and proceed to sit down while the doctor puts the arm band on, presses start on the machine and I am confident that all will be well.

210/130. The Doctor’s eyes popped out of his head. He wrote referreals for echograms, cardio tests and blood tests for blockages, along with scripts for blood pressure meds. He asked me if I was a smoker and I said yes. He said to me to STOP immediately if I want to watch my kids grow up. He asked me to lose weight and to start taking the medication and to come back on Monday morning.

So of course, I started taking the medication however I didn’t stop smoking. On Monday, my blood pressure was at 150/110. Another type of tablet was added to my dose that involved two tablets in the morning and one at night. I went back on Friday and it was all better. 140/90.

I was still smoking and every month when I went for a check up the blood pressure was still up but “controlled” in my own twisted way. I was spending $90 on Blood Pressure medication a month, along with a $200 smoking habit. The good deeds of the medication was getting undone by the smoking habit.

It wasn’t until 2010 that I started coughing and gagging every time I had a smoke and eventually that year I stopped smoking. Apart from the blood pressure problem, I was in between houses, selling one house and building another house, while the Global Financial Crisis was happening all around me. On top of that, one of my boys was hospitalised on two occasions for urinary tract infections and had to undergo two procedures. I swear I couldn’t see the light at the end of this journey. To top it all off the band I created was splintering and I had so much money invested in it, I couldn’t walk away from it without the guys paying me back. So during this period 2008 to 2010, I started listening to music with sad and depressing lyrics.

Breaking Benjamin entered my life around this time. The “Phobia” and “Dear Agony” albums got played constantly.

Machine Head’s “Descend The Shades Of Night”, “Goodbye To Romance” from the Blizzard Of Ozz band (yep, every time I refer to the Randy Rhoads era it will be via the name Blizzard Of Ozz) and Megadeth’s “A Tout Le Monde” came back in my life.

And as depressing as some of the songs are they helped me through my own depressive period.

The reason why I started thinking about smoking is because I was at a party on the weekend and everyone smoked, making it very difficult to interact with the people.

20. Give Me A Sign

It is from the album “Dear Agony” by Breaking Benjamin released in 2009. On YouTube it has 7,088,460 views and on Spotify it has 1,229,610 plays. The song is a superstar in the modern metal and rock circles.

Daylight dies
Blackout the sky
Does anyone care?
Is anybody there?
Take this life
Empty inside
I’m already dead
I’ll rise to fall again

Benjamin Burnley sings the above over a slow haunting riff about losing his way and screaming for help, looking for the sign. My advice to myself from listening to this song is that “when it comes to the end, you have to let go”.

19. Break Away

It is from the album “The Illusion Of Progress” by Staind released in 2008. One YouTube channel has the song up to stream and it has been viewed 382,520 times.

Like a wheel
That keeps turning
If I could break away
From this moment
Break away
What is real
Break away
Never showing
Break away
How I feel
If I could break away

Apathy
The ignorance it brings
The tragedy
Of all these things
We keep repeating

I felt like the song was about me when I heard it in 2008. It is about repeating the same actions everyday, looking for a change and not having the guts to make it happen, believing that some deity in the sky will do it all for me.

My advice to myself from listening to this song is that it was time to make the change and break away. By the end of 2010, the band was over (at a large financial loss to me), the house was finished and I had quit smoking. I made the change/s.

18. What A Shame

It is from the album “The Sound Of Madness” by Shinedown released in 2008. On YouTube, 4 channels have it up with a combined view count over 2.5 million.

Two packs of cigarettes a day
The strongest whiskey
Kentucky can make
That’s a recipe to put a vagabond
On his hands and knees

When I heard the opening verse, I said to myself, damn, that is me. That is exactly what I am doing. Brent Smith nails the emotion in this song. It is about his uncle and a beautiful song. So many of us are judged from everyone around us. It is wrong. Even I do it. Sometimes we all need some help and what we get is criticism instead.

My advice to myself from listening to this song is the chorus line; “What a shame, to judge a life that you can’t change.”

17. Broken Bones

“The Rev Theory” is a very underrated hard rock band. “Broken Bones” is from their 2008 release “Light Me Up.”

Caught in the confines of the simple life
And I am
Holding my head high in the rising tide
And I can’t win
And I can’t fight
I keep holding on too tight
Running away from the world outside

It’s the denial principle within us all. We run away from the problems we are facing by putting on a smile when all we want to do is cry. And when we have problems, the person that we need the most isn’t there to help or is there and doesn’t understand what the hell is going on, which is a shame.

I’m not coming home now
I know
I’m so far away
So far from home
I’m not coming home now
I know
I’m so far away
I’m so far away

This part is emotional. I know that the song is about a band member that they lost along the way, however when i was in hospital with a shattered foot waiting surgery to reconstruct it, this song got me through the days. Coming into 2010, I was in a dark place that I didn’t think I would survive to see the end of the year. “Broken Bones” helped me through it.

My advice to myself from listening to this song is that I needed to get back home and realise that everything that loves me and everything that I love is right in front of me. Like the Three Doors Down song “Heaven” released in 2011 on the “Time Of My Life” album, “I didn’t have to let myself get so far gone, I didn’t have to make the ones I love feel so alone, I didn’t have to die to go to heaven, i Just had to go home.”

16. Let Me Be Myself

Three Doors Down nailed what I was feeling in this song. It was released in 2008, on their self-titled debut. To me it is all about doing what society and my family wants me to do, instead of doing what I want to do. You only get one chance at life, so why waste it living someone else’s life.

I guess I just got lost
Being someone else.
I tried to kill the pain,
But nothing ever helped.
I left myself behind,
Somewhere along the way
Hoping to come back around
To find myself someday

Life has its highs and lows, however I made the choices that got me in these situations. So when I made the choice to get married, the part of the word “me”, I should have left behind and focused on the word “we”. However for years, I focused on the ME and the I. Even after I had kids. Listening to this song when it came out, I said to myself, damn, this song nails my feelings.

Then listening to it at the end of 2010, my view was different. When the lyric states “I guess I just got lost being someone else”, I saw that as me being lost on how to be a dad, thinking I had to do things in a certain way because hey, everyone is a judge in life.

15. Alias

Released in 2009 by In Flames on the “A Sense Of Purpose” album.

Don’t tell me,
Tell my ghost,
Cause I blame him
For all I don’t want to know

In Flames are a great band. I love this song and the title and the Freudian lyrics.

We all keep the real part of us hidden. That is why we are able to adapt to different situations. The ghost is the face that the people all see. It is the mask that we all wear to keep ourselves protected from the truth.

Life’s wrapped in a riddle,
Easier said than done,
Hate to play the victim,
Rather run and hide.

It was time that I acknowledged that I was in fact my own victim. Only I could make the decision to change.

14. Wake Up

Story Of The Year are very underrated in the metal community. From the outset the band got labelled as Emo. However, to me I always saw them as a metal band. It took an album about “The Black Swan Theory”, released in 2008 that got my hooked.

So what is “The Black Swan Theory”. It is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight;

Wake up!
To the sound of this time bomb
Wake up!
To it’s deafening song
Wake up!
Cause you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone
Until it’s gone

With all the chaos in my life at that point in time, this song made me feel alive, calm and confident. It was like it understood me. The message was simple. Wake Up.

13. That Was Just Your Life

Call it the “Enter Sandman” riff backwards. Call the harmony guitars at about the 5.50 minute mark Thin Lizzy rip offs. Call it that they plagiarised “Jump In The Fire”. Call it a great song, to open up the “Death Magnetic”.

“Like a release from a prison that i didn’t know i was in”

What a brilliant lyric. That is what music is on the days where the blues kick in. A release from the prison we are in.

“I blind my eyes and try and force it all into place,
I stitch them up, see not my fall from grace.
I blind my eyes, I hide and feel it passing me by
I open just in time to say goodbye.”

Denial and acceptance of what I believe the version of the truth is. You can easily combine verses from so many different songs and come up with a new Buddhist mantra that is a hundred pages long.

12. The Forgotten

The last album of the Howard Jones Killswitch Engage era released in 2009 and what an album it is.

What have you given up will never return again
Now you’re dead inside I hope it was worth the cost

This is like looking in the mirror at your own reflection and asking yourself “was it worth it”. Sometimes it is better to be the forgotten.

11. The Unforgiven III

Set sail to sea, but pulled off course

A welcome return from Metallica. By 2009, I thought I was doing what I wanted to do and that I was going out to be the best that I could be in my own way, however, I started to see that I was getting side-tracked, following paths that I never should have walked on. By the end of 2009, I was frustrated and I got even more frustrated when I realised that the position I was in, was all of my doing. There was no one to blame except me.

These days drift on inside a fog
It’s thick and suffocating
This seeking life outside its hell
Inside intoxicating

Alcohol and tobacco. It’s easy to numb the feelings when you are intoxicated. The funny thing is that even the songs mentioned deal with dark subject matters, I saw a sense of hope in them and when Robb Flynn screamed “Music My Savior – Save Me” in “Darkness Within” two years later, I knew exactly what he meant.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Thank God For The Truth

“The Ultimate Sin” is a misunderstood album. It is loved by many as much as it is hated.

By 1986, the legend of Ozzy Osbourne was growing. After writing the “Bark At The Moon” album with one finger on the piano (I mean this is a sarcastic way), the heavy metal community waited with anticipation as to what he would do next.

Amongst the fans, Randy Rhoads and his tragic death was still getting all the attention. Magazines focused more on Randy Rhoads than Jake E.Lee. Ozzy was in rehab once again after going off the rails once again. The person that held it all together during this period was Bob Daisley. He was the glue. Sharon Osbourne managed Ozzy; however, if it wasn’t for Bob Daisley coming back over and over again, Ozzy’s solo career in the Eighties would have been a different story.

Daisley brought back the Ozzy legend from obscurity. Ozzy had the controversial headlines, but it was Daisley with his uncredited lyrics that connected with us. And it was a Daisley track called “Flying High Again” that broke Ozzy to the U.S market. When people see a song written by a singer, a guitarist and the bassist, 99.9% of the people will believe that the musical players wrote the music and that the singer wrote the lyrics. However that was not the case with Ozzy.

“Flying High Again” paved the way for what was to come. It was a radio staple and it is Bob Daisley’s title and lyrics. As is often the case, Ozzy became a brand name and the individuals around him became forgotten.

Yet all of Bob Daisley’s Blizzard Of Ozz tunes stay in rotation. And we loved them back then; however we didn’t know the truth. We assumed that what was written on the album sleeve was correct and what was said in an interview was the truth. Seriously, why would our heroes lie?

And none of the tracks were hits like the hits that Billboard and the mainstream press trump up as hits.

So coming into “The Ultimate Sin” album process, the Osbourne camp needed ideas. Jake E. Lee got burned on the song writing credits for the “Bark At The Moon” album, so he demanded a contract up front before he even started writing. It’s not an ideal way to commence the album development cycle however this litigious house is the house that Sharon built.

Ozzy of course was in a bad shape and had a stint in rehab. When he came out of rehab, Jake had already compiled 12 songs ready. This is what Jake E. Lee said in a Guitar World interview from November 1986;

“On the Ultimate Sin, while Ozzy was in the Betty Ford clinic, I got a drum machine, one of those mini-studios, a bass from Charvel-a really shitty one-and I more or less wrote entire songs. I didn’t write melodies or lyrics because Ozzy is bound to do a lot of changing if I was to do that, I just write the music. I write the riff and I’ll come up with a chorus, verse, bridge and solo section, and I’ll write the drum and bass parts I had in mind. I put about 12 songs like that down on tape and when he got out of the Betty Ford clinic it was, “Here ya go, here’s what I’ve got so far.” And I’d say half of it ended up on the album.”

The other piece in the puzzle was Bob Daisley. Apart from “Shot In The Dark” (which is credited to Phil Soussan and Ozzy Osbourne) all of the lyrics on “The Ultimate Sin” are written by Bob Daisley. This is what Bob Daisley said on the album in an interview on the BraveWords website;

“I did write the album with Jake and then Ozzy and I had a falling out and he fired me and he was going to fire Jake as well. I’ve never been a ‘yes’ man. So a few weeks later, he called me and he had Phil Soussan on bass but I’d already written a lot of the music with Jake so they knew they had to credit me on the songs anyway so I guess he thought he may as well get his money’s worth and asked me to come back and write the lyrics also. I did that as sort of a paid job. I write it, you pay me and take it and go. So I spent a few weeks writing the lyrics for the whole album. Then they recorded it. In a way, I am glad I am not on that album. It’s the one album I didn’t really like”

Of course, the Osbourne’s didn’t credit Daisley for his song writing contributions on the initial 1986 pressing of the album, though this was corrected on subsequent pressings. So there are 500,000 albums out there that doesn’t credit Bob Daisley.

Another form of controversy centered around “Shot In The Dark”.

“Shot in the Dark”

This is what Phil Soussan said about the song on the Songfacts website;

“It is metaphorical for someone who wants to change. He wants to end what has been and start from new but only has so much control! Literally, he turns his back on what has been his life!”

In a Noiscreep interview, Phil Soussan stated the following;

“The original song version and lyrics was what I presented to Ozzy at that time. I have always been a huge Pink Panther fanatic and the title and song subject were written as such. The idea was originally a fast tempo track and Ozzy loved the lyrics. He made some changes to it; added some melody and the part just before the solo. He wanted me to come up with some lyric changes here and there to make it “darker” while keeping the original premise.”

This is what Jake E Lee said in a Guitar World interview from November 1986;

“I write a lot of songs like that-most of the songs I’ve kept have been really commercial or really weird-and I wasn’t so sure of that when Phil (Soussan-bassist and writer of “Shot In The Dark”) first presented it. It was getting kind of commercial and Ozzy wasn’t too sure of it either. But Ron Nevison (producer) gunned for that one and it worked out alright.”

The Great Song Writing Controversy Revisited

This is what Jake E Lee had to say in an interview on Ultimate Classic Rock on the song writing credits controversy that seemed to plague the Osbourne camp in the Eighties;

“On ‘The Ultimate Sin,’ I did get credit because I got screwed out of the first one. I was promised that I would get [credit]. Because I was young and I was in the middle of Scotland recording, I didn’t have a manager or a lawyer — it was just me. From the beginning, every musician, it’s always hammered into them, “Keep your publishing” and “Keep your writing.” So those were the only conditions that I had was “OK, I’m getting song writing credit, right?” I was always assured that “Yes, I’m getting publishing — of course you are!” When I didn’t on the first record, it was upsetting. But I figured OK, what am I going to do? I got screwed — what am I going to quit? We’re about to tour on a record that I finally got to make. There’s no problem for Ozzy to find another guitar player — am I just going to be that guy that played on that record, didn’t even get credit on the record and then refused to tour because I had a problem with Ozzy? No. I had to go out and tour. It would have been stupid not to. So I was only able to put my foot down at the end of the tour. “Let’s make another record” and I was like, “OK, but this time, you know what? I want the contract first before we start recording. I don’t want to be a dick, but I don’t want to get screwed again either.”

In relation to the screwed part, this is what Jake told Steven Rosen in a Guitar World interview from November 1986, when he was asked the question, how much input did you have on “Bark At The Moon”;

“Most of the music was mine. “Rock N’ Roll Rebel”, “Bark At The Moon”, “Now You See It, (Now You Don’t)”, “Waiting For Darkness” and “Slow Down” were mine.”

Ron Nevison

This is what Jake E Lee had to say about working with Ron Nevison in a Guitar World interview from November 1986;

“….he was hard to work with. He doesn’t have a very open mind; he hears things his way and he thinks that’s the way it should be done. And I heard things my way and I think that’s the way it should be done. And there wasn’t a whole lot of compromise. It was mostly who felt the strongest about something and argued the longest won out.”
“I didn’t go into the studio with the attitude of, “Oh boy, I get to play today, let’s see what I can put down!” I went in there thinking, “Oh sh*t, what are we going to argue about today?”

In an interview on the Crappy Indie Music Blog, Ron Nevison answered in the following manner, when he was asked about his thoughts on Jake’s comments;

“(laughs) Well, he would like to be his own producer. But what you don’t know is that he wanted to come in at midnight. He wanted to work midnight to 8am. There’s more than one person in a band, though. What about all the people at the front desk… and the second engineers, and maintenance people. So I said no. I’m all for working with people when they want to work, so we compromised and started at like 6 at night. I said that I can’t do it… not even speaking for the rest of the band, but if I work for you at midnight to 8am, I have to take a couple of days off to turn my life around be able to work with someone else again. But he was a strange guy. He was… no drugs; he was into Zen stuff, martial arts… I don’t know what he was into. But he was a fantastic guitar player; I never had a problem with him. If he had a problem with me he never told me. Doesn’t surprise me.”

The Jake E Lee Origin Story Revisited

Doing time with Ratt and then Rough Cutt he was contacted to audition for Ozzy’s band. This is how Jake E Lee summed it up in the November 86, Guitar World interview;

“I went down there anyway and I think there was a list of 25 guitar players and we all spent 15 minutes in the studio, each doing whatever we wanted to do. We had our pictures taken and they were given to Ozzy and he picked three of us: George (Lynch-Dokken) was one of them and he was flown to England and given first crack at it. And there was me and Mitch Perry left in L.A. Ozzy came down and we auditioned at S.I.R. and I got it. And I was 45 minutes late! The guy who found the guitar players (Dana Strum) said that Ozzy almost walked out the door; he said, “”f**k it, if this guy doesn’t care enough to show up on time and he’s going to be this kind of problem, forget it. I don’t care how good he is.” But the guy kept him there.”

The Phil Soussan Origin Story

Phil got his first big break playing with Simon Kirke’s Wildlife project that was signed to Led Zeppelin’s boutique record label. Record Label politics and members moving on more or less put an end to this project; however “Shot In The Dark” was born during this process. YouTube has a demo version up and various forums put up arguments for Steve Overland to be given a song writing credit.

In a 2006 interview with the dmme.net website, this is what Soussan had to say about working with Simon Kirke;

“Simon was great to play with. He really educated me in the style of “back-beat” playing. Knowing how to place your bass notes just behind the beats separates “feel” players from the masses and I credit Simon for that. Sure we felt as though we were going to be part of the big time but it was not meant to be. After the politics between our label, Swan Song and Atlantic, caused the fall apart of our deal, Simon left and we continued for a while. I suggested that we take our brand of American AOR rock to the USA and try to finance our own visit and tour, but the rest of the band disagreed. We eventually split up and went our separate ways.”

After Wildlife, Soussan began working with Jimmy Page. This is how Soussan explained this part of his career in an interview with Noisecreep;

“From the get go, and from when Jimmy started playing again after his long hiatus (following the sad passing of John Bonham, RIP), the plan was always to start playing and to put a band together that would feature Paul Rodgers as the singer. We formed a band that we initially called The McGregors around Jimmy, Chris Slade and myself. When Chris went out to tour with David Gilmour we brought in Rat Scabies to fill in. Jimmy loved Rat’s playing; he said that if Bonham had been a punk he would have sounded like Rat! Eventually we began to refer to the band as “The Firm.”

“Eventually I got asked to audition for Ozzy and when I was offered the gig I had the dilemma of if whether I wanted to stay with Jimmy or go out with Ozzy. I discussed with Jimmy and he told me that they were still not going out for another year and I decided to go with Ozzy. Jimmy had started to use Tony Franklin on bass and we parted as great friends. In a way I had mixed emotions as I was so fond of Jimmy, but we still speak and it is always great to see him.”

Where Are They Now? Bassist Phil Soussan of Ozzy Osbourne, Billy Idol, Beggars & Thieves – http://noisecreep.com/phil-soussan/

RON NEVISON, PART 1 – http://crappyindiemusic.blogspot.com.au/2010/02/jess-interviews-ron-nevison-part-1.html?m=1

Interview with PHIL SOUSSAN – http://dmme.net/interviews/soussan1.html

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