On September 20th, 1980, Ozzy Osbourne, then known for his almost decade of fronting metal giants Black Sabbath, released his first solo album (and in my opinion one of his most definitive solo records) on Jet Records. Unbeknownst to him and others involved in the project, this record entitled ‘Blizzard of Ozz‘ would eventually be known as one of the greatest heavy metal records of all time. After Osbourne‘s firing from the iconic group Black Sabbath only a year prior due to his life of excess, addiction, and reclusiveness; it was only logical to believe that his career was completely beyond repair. With the help of Sharon Arden (then daughter of Black Sabbath‘s manager at the time Don Arden and future wife to Osbourne), Ozzy took the steps to embark on creating new material post-Sabbath, and this endeavor has surely stood the test of time.
‘Blizzard of Ozz‘ is quite simply one of these records that is a staple and must have in any heavy metal fan’s collection. The album includes arguably Ozzy‘s biggest hit, “Crazy Train” which to this day not only penetrates the heavy metal community but permeates mainstream media as well. I don’t think you can swing a dead cat without hearing this one on TV while watching a football game. It also contains a myriad of iconic Ozzy tracks that to this day are some of the most defining sounds of hard rock and has been used as a blueprint for bands and records in the 80’s, 90’s, 00’s, and modern day.
The record opens up with the ear splitting “I Don’t Know“, which starts out with a high energy riff mixed with a slew of guitar runs that that can only be from the undeniable talents of guitar player Randy Rhoads, who at the time was only 23 years old. Randy who was still a relatively unknown player (his previous group being Quiet Riot pre-‘Metal Health‘ fame where he played with future Ozzy member Rudy Sarzo) joined the band in 1979. The group also included bassist Bob Daisley and drummer Lee Kerslake. Randy explored his incredible talents and years of ‘classical turned rock and roll’ style on both ‘Blizzard of Ozz‘ and Ozzy‘s follow-up record, ‘Diary of a Madman’ before tragically passing away in a plane crash at just 25 years old. In his tragically short life, Randy has left a legacy that will truly never be forgotten, but I can’t help but wonder what other amazing things he would’ve created if he were still here today.
Other standout songs on this record include the notorious “Suicide Solution” which is most known for its allegations of promoting suicide in the mid 80’s after a California teen ended his own life while listening to the record. “Mr. Crowley” (the record’s second single) which opens up Side B of ‘Blizzard of Ozz‘, was another rather controversial tune as it speaks about Aleister Crowley who is often referred to as “the wickedest man in the world.” The song opens up with Don Airey‘s haunting keyboard track that any metalhead could recognize anywhere and gives the song an extra bit of ‘occultist-vibes.’ I’d have to say that one of my own personal favorites on the record would have to be the rather underrated ballad, “Goodbye To Romance.” Even with its slower tempo and more sappy than usual lyrics for Ozzy at the time, this tune is still without a doubt uniquely Ozzy Osbourne and still includes a blistering solo from Rhoads himself.
An honorable mention of this record is actually the track, “You Looking at Me, Looking at You” which ended up being the record’s tenth song. It was later added to the 2002 reissue of the record as a bonus track. I honestly wish this one would’ve made it on the original record in place of a weaker tune (“No Bone Movies“, “Steal Away (The Night)“. But, I’m happy we got it at all even if it was 22 years later!
As for how well ‘Blizzard of Ozz‘ did on the charts, the album hit #7 on the UK Albums Chart in 1980 as well as #21 on the Billboard 200 chart in 1981. The single “Crazy Train” came in at #9 on the Mainstream Rock (USA) chart in the same year, and as of 2019, the album has been certified 5x platinum, selling over 5,000,000 copies. It was also ranked by Rolling Stone Magazine at #9 on their 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time list.
All in all, ‘Blizzard of Ozz’ is one of the most iconic albums to appear in what I believe to be the heyday of heavy metal and hard rock. It almost always pops up in rotation on my turntable and I’m sure I’m not the only one! I truly believe this record has a little bit of everything for everyone. Ballads, acoustic licks (listen to “Dee” for some underrated acoustic stylings from Rhoads himself. You can really hear his years of pre-metal classical training in this one), scorching solos, good old melodic rock, and everything in-between. I’m positive the songs on this record will continue to influence new listeners for decades to come just as it influenced my parents and then myself.
Ozzy Osbourne — lead vocals + harmony vocals
Randy Rhoads — electric and classical guitars
Bob Daisley — bass, backing vocals, gong
Lee Kerslake — drums, percussion, tubular bells, timpani
Don Airey — keyboards
1. I Don’t Know
2. Crazy Train
3. Goodbye To Romance
5. Suicide Solution
6. Mr. Crowley
7. No Bone Movies
8. Revelation (Mother Earth)
9. Steal Away (The Night)
How would you rank ‘Blizzard of Ozz‘ in your list of your favorite Ozzy Osbourne solo records? Share with your fellow metalheads, leave a comment, and let me know!