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Dio Bassist Rudy Sarzo Goes "Off the Rails" With Deb Rao

By Debby Rao, Boston Contributor
Thursday, January 18, 2007 @ 12:36 AM

"Randy (Rhoads) said, 'You are

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An accomplish bass axe-man with an enduring career, Rudy Sarzo has enjoyed the kind of storied success most up-and-comers would sell their souls for.

Sarzo has had the opportunity to play with such metal legends as Ozzy Osbourne, Quiet Riot, Whitesnake, Yngwie Malmsteen and Dio (Joining Dio in 2004), not to mention performing with the late Randy Rhoads with both Quiet Riot and Ozzy.

During the early years before Rhoad's untimely death, Sarzo became quite close to the legendary guitarist. It stands to reason that, in deep respect to his fallen hero, Sarzo would pen a tribute entitled, Off The Rails.

2007 is going to be an exciting year for Rudy. As he will be doing a book signing at NAMM on January 19 at the Dean Markely Booth from 3 P.M. - 5 P.M. The wait is finally over, and Rudy's book. Off The Rails, is finally released and also available for sale at KNAC.COM.

In this Exclusive Interview for KNAC.COM, Sarzo discusses, Off The Rails, Randy Rhoads, and his 20-plus years of playing with legendary metal stars.

KNAC.COM: How has the European tour with Dio been going?

SARZO: We just did a gig in Bulgaria, on New Years Eve. We helped usher in Bulgaria into the European Union at Midnight. They became members of the European Union. We had a big party outdoors in the town square in Varna. It was wonderful. Thousands of people were there, fireworks, and an Ox in a pit roasting. You had to have something to eat right? They took an ox, and beat the crap out of it, stuck it in the pit and they cooked it. It stopped me from eating burgers for a while.

KNAC.COM: That’s right! You’re a vegetarian. Is that still the case?

SARZO: I use to be a vegetarian, for a while, but then my body needed protein. The only way I can get it is to eat meat. But I definitely stay away from pork. Ever since I saw, "Babe." It was too cute to eat. Plus, I really don't like eating other people's pets.

KNAC.COM: That’s really gross. I could not have eaten that ox if they cooked it in front on me.

SARZO: The ox was warm. It was 15 degrees (outside). We were playing outdoors. So the ox was the warmest creature there at the gig.


KNAC.COM: Now, Dio performed mostly in Europe this past year, right?

SARZO: Yes, actually we have been playing everywhere except the U.S. We did a tour of the U.S. in 2004. That was the last time that Dio performed in America. Besides that, we have just been touring all over Europe. We spent a whole month in Russia. We toured the U.K., Japan, and South America.

KNAC.COM: Your first gig was with Dio in, Moscow on July 16 of 2004. What was it like performing for your first gig in Russia?

SARZO: Actually, my first gig with The (former) Soviet Union was with Whitesnake in 1994. It was very moving, because I come from a Communist Country. It was very moving for me to be onstage, and play for an audience that was going to hear this music being played in Russia, for the first time. They were having their first taste of Democracy. It was a slow process for Russia to make the transition for a Communist Country to a Democracy. I saw incredible changes in Russia went I went back ten years later. It reminded me a lot of the U.S., and the way it was back in the 70's. We traveled everywhere. Russia is a very big country about seven time zones. We went as Far East to very close to the border of China. Also, it is very close to Japan and Korea. We went all thru Russia. It is a very progressive place.

They love Metal in Europe. The older fans that we get had never seen our genre, up until a few years ago, when all the bands were allowed to perform there. This music means a lot to them. It is what kept them emotionally going, all of their lives. It gave them a reason to live. These people are very serious about Metal. It was not as trendy, as it is here. For them, it is a way of life. Where as in the U.S because of MTV it became trendy. Of course, there are some real Metal heads in the U.S. too. But some of the people gravitated because of the fashion statement that heavy metal was making.

KNAC.COM: How did you get the gig in Dio?

SARZO: Somebody called me that had heard, a friend of mine that was working for the crew of Dio had heard, they were looking for a bass player. Quiet Riot had quietly broken up, around that time in 2003, going into 2004. Not everybody knew that I was available. So I called Wendy, the bands’ manager and I let her know I was available. She told me Ronnie right now is writing the songs for the next record, which turned out to be Master Of the Moon. She said, as soon as they are done with the record, we would call you back. Meanwhile, I got a call from April Malmsteem, who is Yngwie's wife and manager. She invited me to participate on the U.S Yngwie, Attack Tour in 2004. So while I was on tour with Yngwie, I got a call from Wendy to go into the studio to start the work on Master On The Moon album. It was right in the middle of the Yngwie, tour, so I had a commitment. So they went ahead, and got Jeff Pilson (Dokken) in to do the record, but as soon as I finished my commitment with Yngwie, I called Wendy and said,"Hey I am available now." There you go, the rest is history.

KNAC.COM: Any plans to go into the studio with Dio in 2007?

SARZO: Ronnie is getting ready to do the Heaven and Hell Tour.

KNAC.COM: What are your thoughts on Heaven and Hell?

SARZO: I am a huge fan of that version of Sabbath. I am very excited. I have heard the three new songs that are going to be included in the Box Set, Black Sabbath - The Dio Years. A couple of the tunes, are songs that Ronnie brought to the table to be included in the new Dio record. But he got together with Tony, and Ronnie said,"Hey listen, I have these riffs here." So they have become part of the new Box Set. Also Ronnie, has his studio at home. I go there and help him out recording. So I get to hear everything first hand. It sounds amazing.

KNAC.COM: Do the new songs on the Box Set sound like early Sabbath?

SARZO: It is more like the Dio version of Sabbath with Vinnie Appice playing on it. It has a lot of the Mob Rules, and Dehumanizer sound and feel to it.

KNAC.COM: Tony Iommi is a great guitar player.

SARZO: Yes, Tommy is incredible. He is a legend and an icon. Not only as a personality, but he has the Iommi sound. Geezer is great too. I love his playing.

KNAC.COM: I know a lot of fans are looking forward to the "Heaven and Hell" tour. Will Dio get to tour at all this year?

SARZO: I have heard plans, at the end of the year, is when we are all going to converge and start working on the new record. But it won’t be until then.

KNAC.COM: Congratulations on your new book, Off The Rails. How does it feel to have it finally in stores?

SARZO: Well, I had that book years, just sitting. I was dying to release it. It is out.

KNAC.COM: Did you have to change anything or it is true to the original manuscript?

SARZO: Not at all. Not a single letter. I had nothing to hide. There was nothing defamatory towards the Osbournes, or anything else. It is what it is. What came out came down without any real knowledge of what the book is all about.

    (Sarzo attempted to release the book in 2005 under the title "Off The Rails, My Adventures In The Land Of Ozz", but met with a legal complaint from the Osbourne camp, the book was pulled from distribution. )

My goal was, when I traveled around the world and I played with Randy Rhoads, every time that I would sit down and talk with somebody, I always walked away feeling that I hadn't said enough. There is so much more to say about Randy. So I figured, I would write everything that I know, all of my memoirs and all of the information that I have regarding Randy, let me put it into a book form, so I won't feel that I left anything out. It is all there.

KNAC.COM: How would you describe Randy Rhoads?

SARZO: Randy Rhoads was an amazing musician. But that wasn't the whole picture about Randy. Randy was many things. He was an amazing teacher, musician, friend, performer, composer, and all these things.

KNAC.COM: You were really the only person to perform with Randy in both Quiet Riot and Ozzy Osbourne.

SARZO: I was blessed. It gave me the opportunity to see the two different Randy guitar players. There was the Randy with Quiet Riot, and the Randy with Ozzy. The Randy with Quiet Riot had a lot of perimeters that were set by what the industry in Los Angeles was all about. Let's face it; Quiet Riot was a band that was looking for a record deal. So we were pretty much at the mercy of what the industry was dictating. The last metal band to get signed out of the 70’s was Van Halen. Right after that, they shut the door. The industry started signing bands like The Knack, The Motels, and Devo…new wave bands. Even back then, they were going, "Metal is dead. That's it, no more Metal." So we go, "What are we going to do?"

You have to take into consideration, there is no Internet. Nobody knew about the new wave of metal that was coming over from England, or Ozzy Osbourne. Nobody knew about Maiden. The industry was just focusing on what was outside of their door. What was happening on The Strip. What bands were coming in from let's say, Ohio? Devo comes into town, these guys are new, so they thought they were amazing and signed them. They didn't care about all of the L.A. bands that were around doing metal, or hard rock or glam, whatever it happened to be. In the 80's, metal wasn't known as it is today.

The original Quiet Riot was a blend of Sweet, The Faces, and a bit of Queen, all of those influences and seventies rock. Quiet Riot became heavier, the second time around. I have to give a lot of that credit to the way that Frankie (Banali) plays his drums. Frankie gave it more a heavier edge to it, more of a drive. More of that John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) feel and sound to it, and made it heavier. So to me, there were two completely different Quiet Riots. Just the same, as there were two completely different Randy’s. There was the Randy with Quiet Riot, who was more poppy. There are no signs of comparing the heaviness to "Mr. Crowley" or "Diary of a Madman". So once Randy joined Ozzy, Ozzy told him, "Just be yourself. Just compose what comes to you naturally." So Randy had no perimeters and played what he really wanted to play with Ozzy. Because, there was a record deal already in place.

KNAC.COM: Randy was a genius for sure.

SARZO: Yes, Randy was an amazing composer.

KNAC.COM: Randy was responsible for you getting the gig with Ozzy too. Is that correct?

SARZO: Absolutely. If it wasn't for Randy, we wouldn't be having this conversation. Randy went out there, and put himself out of the limb and said, "This is the guy." Early on in the first chapter of the book, you get to see how the whole thing came down. I was playing in a band called Angel at the time. I get the call from Sharon (Osbourne) asking me if I wanted to come down. I said, "No. I am already in another band." It wasn't till a day later, that Ozzy called me up, and said, "Randy said you are the guy." By then, I decided yes, I should go and audition. I got the gig.

KNAC.COM: I can picture Ozzy saying that. Rudy, you have played with so many amazing people.

SARZO: Yes, I have been blessed.

KNAC.COM: Everything was really good in Quiet Riot for you, the second time around, up until 2003. What happened? Why did you leave?

SARZO: The same problems that I had back with the band in the 80's, they resurfaced. When I came back later on. But at least, it was very important for me to see it all the way through. Until it fell apart, by no reason of me being responsible for it. The last day that the whole thing just fell apart, Frankie and Carlos and myself, we got together at the airport, we couldn't get a hold of Kevin. We said, "Listen, we can't go on like this. This is it, you know?" So leaving us stranded several times at the airport, we couldn't carry on. It was costing us money to keep the band going. When I left the band, back in the 80's, even though I went on with Whitesnake, which was a pretty big band, needless to say, I always wondered, "What would have happened, if I wouldn’t have left?" This time it was very important to me, to get closure out of the whole thing. I said OK, I am going to stick with it, no matter how bad it gets. I did. It fell apart not because of me; we just finished talking about that. I can live with the closure.

KNAC.COM: No regrets right?

SARZO: Exactly, no regrets, no not at all.

KNAC.COM: What was it like working with David Coverdale in Whitesnake?

SARZO: I had a blast. It was fantastic. It came at a time when I was not expecting that type of success. I had already been with Ozzy. I was with Quiet Riot. It was like, all of a sudden MTV took on that genre of metal. We were not really a metal band. But we were locked into the metal image. We were more of a hard rock band. Ozzy was metal. Whitesnake was more blues-rock. It was very sexual, the content lyrically and with Tawny (Kitaen) in the videos.

KNAC.COM: Who can forget those Whitesnake videos like, "Here I go Again"?

SARZO: I have a lot of stories. Never a dull moment. Looking back on it, it was a lot of fun.

KNAC.COM: Any stories that you would like to share about Tawny? What was it like working with one of the most beautiful woman from the 80's?

SARZO: Actually, I think my wife is the most beautiful woman in the world. Actually, my wife was in a Whitesnake video before I joined the band. She was in the "Love Is No Stranger" video. She was the snake woman. Quiet Riot and Whitesnake were shooting videos the same day, we changed directors. Somehow my wife was in the Whitesnake video. That year Whitesnake was the opening act in 1984, for Quiet Riot. That is how I really got to know the guys really well, David and Cozy Powell, John Sykes.

KNAC.COM: Yes, your wife Rebecca is very beautiful. What a small world. I know you are going to be at NAMM. Are going to be doing a book signing there?

SARZO: Yes, I have had a lot of requests for signatures. It gets wacky, mailing stuff out. It is impossible. So I told everybody, if you are coming down to NAMM, bring the book. We are going to be at the Dean Markley booth, with the whole Dio band on January 19 at 3 P.M. - 5 P.M.

KNAC.COM: Before we go, you have worked with so many amazing guitarists. What is it like working with Craig Goldy of Dio?

SARZO: Craig is fantastic. Goldy and I, Tommy Aldridge, and a singer named Jeff Scott Soto; we had a band called Driver, right before Goldy joined Dio. It is like things are coming full circle, because I am playing with Goldy again in Dio. It is like this little circle that keeps going round and round.

Buy your copy of Off The Rails now at the KNAC.COM More Store. Click here for a direct link.

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