Off the Rails – Rudy Sarzo

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TITLE: Off The Rails
AUTHOR: Rudy Sarzo
YEAR: 2008

TOO SMART! Publishing

Written By: Josh Mosh
Dec 14 2011

So what if this book is a few years old! I just got my hands on it and I thought it was worth sharing my thoughts on...Especially since I don't recall there being a lot of press about it when it came out. I remember hearing about it before hand, but once it was released...crickets. Maybe because it's not on a huge publishing label like MTV Books, I dunno...Read on my friends...

Time travel is possible. I do it frequently...I am sure many of us can agree that there are certain songs and albums that take back years, even decades. While reading this book I've put Ozzy's first couple of post-SABBATH LPs in rotation, I was immediately whisked back to the early 80's...I was Junior High and I had just met the co-creator of THRAHSHEAD, Rene. We quickly bonded over early 80's Metal, Conan comics and Dungeons and Dragons. Actually 'Blizzard of Oz' really minds me of this character Travis and 'Diary of a Madman' reminds me more of Rene. I remember he had this turntable that had an alarm built in, you could set the alarm and the needle would drop at the chosen time. A record playing alarm clock, I've never seen one like it since. I can recall Rene setting the alarm to 'Little Dolls'...The first time I heard 'Diary of a Madman' was from this girl Deardra, she was from Las Vegas and was 3 years older than me...

Reading and understanding the story of the early Ozzy days and of the also legendary Randy Rhoads has been a remarkable journey. Rudy's book takes me, you, the reader to places forgotten and opens doors in those realms that may have never been explored by the fan. Rudy divulges information that adds details and even changes the story of Randy's death, at least the story we have been given for the last 30 years. It seems Randy might have died a hero; he quite possibly saved the entire Osbourne entourage from being killed that day.

Rudy describes Randy as a quiet, humble and gentle individual more interested in perfecting his craft than living the lavish Rock N' Roll lifestyle to the point where Randy would take guitar lessons before shows from whatever local classical instructor he could find. With that he details Randy's displeasure in performing the SABBATH material and ultimately Randy's decision to leave the band after an agreed upon next album and tour. This isn't really the story we've read or heard in all the Ozzy interviews over the years.

Sharon Osbourne has often been given credit for saving Ozzy's life. After reading this book I don't know how much I agree with that. Ozzy was hurting and depressed and on the downward spiral after SABBATH. She is apparently the one who found him and got him back on the road. And right there is exactly where things go further south. Ozzy was obviously in need of professional help but the Arden family cure (or treatment rather) was to get him back on the road to basically distract him. They say one of the best treatments for depression is to stay active but let's be real. This dude was in no shape to be on the tour schedule she kept him on. Between breakdowns he'd be able to perform a string of shows only to completely lose it a few days later. This cycle repeats itself over and over through the couple of years with 'Blizzard and 'Diary' and throughout the book. Ozzy continuously asks to go home, he can't go on. They just keep putting him out there. At one point Ozzy even shaved his head thinking there was no way they would put him onstage looking like that (shaved heads weren't cool in the early 80's like they are now, but they did anyway. Even after Randy's death they only took a two week break! They buried Randy between auditioning guitar players! This was the end for Rudy, he couldn't stay on board this hellish train wreck and soon put in his resignation from the Ozzy Osbourne band much to the dismay of Sharon and even Ozzy (who punched him in the head before the US Festival!).

Unlike most of these Rock N' Roll memoir books that have been so popular for the last ten years or so, Rudy didn't hire a writer to transcribe his thoughts. He actually sat down at his laptop and pounded this one out himself. This direct approach adds an incredible amount of honesty although it doesn't always make for the smoothest read. He uses a surprising amount of dialogue and delivers it in such a simplistic manner that it often makes Randy and him sound like goofy little kids:

"Hey Rudes."

"Hey Rands."

"We sounded good last night."

"We sure did, didn't we? Ozzy was sure drunk last night."

"He sure was! That Ozzy, he just gets wild sometimes doesn't he?"

"He sure does...Wanna go sightseeing before sound-check today?"

"Sounds great Rudes. Let me get my camera and I'll meet you out front."

I kid you not. Sometimes it's so distracting or just downright comical! But, more power to the guy, again, he wrote this incredible tale on his own with no outside help. You gotta' give some respect!

This book is a must read for any Ozzy fan of any stage of his career, especially those of us that were there for the first few albums. Rudy Sarzo clears up a lot of the rumors and mysteries that surrounded those early years without embellishing on the stories and tales that we have become so familiar with. He doesn't downplay, but nor does he romanticize Ozzy's partying and the effects it had on the band and crew. He describes it as ugly and as sad as it truly was. At the same time Rudy does an amazing job of painting a very heartfelt and wonderful picture of his dear and close friend, Randy Rhoads.

I saw Rudy perform this last summer with BLUE OYSTER CULT. They were playing the fair in a small town in Northern Colorado but that didn't stop Rudes from rocking like he was playing the biggest arena in the world. It proved to me that he truly loves the music and just getting out there and doing it! Less ego more rocking!

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