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Chewing up and spitting out

Another Rainbow related interview in the Rolling Stone’s Unknown Legends series — this time it’s an in-depth conversation with Bob Daisley, covering his career from a 3 year old listening to his parents’ Frank Sinatra records to the present day and pretty much everything in between. And that’s a lot of everything. Bob has stories to tell.

It doesn’t seem like [Widowmaker] was a band destined to last, but it led to you joining Rainbow.
First off, I loved Widowmaker. I wanted to see it make it. It was my band as much as anyone’s. We weren’t working for someone else. It was our band. It was a democratic situation. But at the end of the last Widowaker tour, we were in Los Angeles to play at the Whisky a Go Go. I got a call about auditioning for Rainbow.

I thought to myself, “I’ll try this. I’ll go to the audition and I’ll see what happens.” I get there and there’s [drummer] Cozy [Powell], there was Ronnie James Dio, and there was Ritchie [Blackmore]. We played for about an hour or so, they went into one of the offices of the rehearsal place, and they came out and said, “You’ve got the gig if you want it.”

They’d already auditioned about 40 bass players. They couldn’t find somebody. That’s because there’s three main credentials you need for a band, usually, when you do an audition. You’ve gotta look the part, you’ve got to be able to get on with them, and you’ve got to be able to play.

I said, “I don’t know. I’ll think about it.” [Laughs] They must have thought, “You little fuck. Who the fuck do you think you are? This is Rainbow. We’re offering you the gig and you’re going to think about it?” But I did have to think about it. I wanted to know, for sure, that I wanted to make the move from Widowmaker into that.

Also, Ritchie had a bit of a reputation of chewing people up and spitting them out quite quickly. People that knew me were saying things like, “You could be gone in three months. You might end up with nothing.”

And so I played the Whisky that night with Widowmaker. At the end of the night, we went up to the dressing room and another squabble broke out. I was like, “Oh, fuck. Oh, God. Here we go again.” I said, “Fuck this.”

Ritchie saw me that night. He came to the show and told me he’d be at the Rainbow afterwards, which was just a few steps away. After the squabble, I said, “I’m going up to the Rainbow.” I packed my bag and walked out. What I meant was, “I’m going up to the Rainbow Bar and Grill.” But I also meant, “I’ve decided to join Rainbow.”

I walked in and Ritchie was at a booth by himself. When he saw me, he stood up and clapped. I thought, “Wow.” That meant a lot to me. Ritchie didn’t give compliments easily. That was a really good sign for me. He never suffered fools gladly. He was an aware person. He had the reputation of being cantankerous, but I got along fine with him. As long as you did your job, kept your head down, and went along with it. I had a drink with Ritchie that night. I think the very next day, I started rehearsals for Rainbow.

Read more in Rolling Stone.

Thanks to Gary Poronovich for the heads up.

17 Comments to “Chewing up and spitting out”:

  1. 1
    Dr. Bob says:

    Bob Daisley has quite the rock resume but never stuck with a band for more than a couple of years. Was it the looks, the getting on with, or the ability to play?

  2. 2
    Uwe Hornung says:

    He was handsome (and very vain as David Stone has stated) as a young man, is a top notch bass player (among the best Blackers has ever played with) and played with Ozzy for most of the time though my take is that Sharon’s concern was always that her hubby’s dependence on Bob’s musical and lyrical skills (and therefore her hubby’s commercial success) was a bit too great for comfort or own ego. She clawed him away, several times. Bob, no doubt, did it because Ozzy paid him handsomely, tolerating his erratic behavior and Sharon’s helicopter hovering over his career.

    Bob was much in demand as a bass player because he was THAT good at his instrument. Having a lot of opportunities and never being out of work as well as having an eye to making a good living himself made him relaxed as regards switching bands. Chicken Shack, Mungo Jerry, Widowmaker, Rainbow, Ozzy Osbourne, Uriah Heep, Gary Moore, Black Sabbath, Mothers Army, Yngwie Malmsteen, Dio, Hoochie Koochie Men, Living Loud – the man is no slouch.

    As a bass player, he is very controlled and precise, yet assertive and always well-audible due to his steady pick attack (great for recording, an engineer’s dream). He has also been a comparatively busy/sophisticated player in all his bands, Gary Moore being the sole exception because he liked his bassists at that point in time to stick to the root note. Bob’s excellent bass playing is best captured on the first two Ozzy albums, with Widowmaker and Uriah Heep (Abominog and Head First) as well as on the three Mothers Army albums.

  3. 3
    MacGregor says:

    I agree with Uwe on all but one point he mentioned, ‘Ozzy paid him, handsomely’. For Fact’s Sake!
    Bob Daisley is a fine bass player who has done well for himself, a decent career he has enjoyed after leaving Australia back in his youth, much respect to him. I had the pleasure of meeting him briefly after the Hoochie Coochie band gig with Jon Lord, 2003. I wished him all the best in the attempt at getting his & Lee Kerslake’s much owed royalties off ‘you know who’. Unfortunately it didn’t work out for them. Cheers

  4. 4
    Uwe Hornung says:

    I meant that he did financially well as a hired hand and ghostwriter on Ozzy’s tours and albums, that is why he let himself be lured back again and again after all. In the early 80ies, he cold have stayed with Uriah Heep, where he was offered a much more prominent role, his songwriting und bass playing is all over those two Heep albums he did. But when Ozzy called, he returned yet again (and even took Heep’s keyboarder with him!), like an abused wife and ignoring his previous bad experiences with the Osbournes. That was strictly a money decision. Ozzy was hot cakes in the States and current, Heep had their commercial prime ten years behind them: Pete Goalby was a great singer, but he would not bring back the Byron-Hensley era, Bob knew that.

    Like many rock musicians, Bob took the immediate money. But there is no question that he cut a bad deal with the Osbournes as regards songwriting credits and long term royalties. Sharon runs a tight ship ruthlessly.

  5. 5
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Here’s someone else with accolades for Ritchie …


  6. 6
    MacGregor says:

    Yes, Bob Daisley was glutton for punishment it seems regarding returning to the wasps nest, so to speak. He was the main reason along with a new guitarist Jake E Lee, that I purchased Bark at the Moon back in the day. There were a few decent tracks on it, Jake E Lee was a good guitarist, however as we know Randy Rhoads was special indeed. I couldn’t continue supporting Ozzy after that 3rd album. Too commercial & MTV- ish.
    Regarding that Pete Goalby Uriah Heep lineup, I had the privilege of witnessing that era in concert, 1985 from my memory. We couldn’t believe they were in our home town all the way out in the sticks in rural NSW Australia. Trevor Bolder on bass with Lee Kerslake laying it down big time. Mick Box was in fine form & Goalby was very good of course on lead vocal & the keyboard player John Sinclair was well up to the task. As Mick Box still says to this very day, Happy Days. Cheers.

  7. 7
    Georgivs says:


    What a eulogy to Bob. Rightly so, though. He was and is a great musician. I think he peaked with “The Eternal Idol” and “No Rest for the Wicked” (not being credited for either, he-he). Bass lines on those two albums sound very powerful yet subtle. I was always wondering how Dave Spitz, not really known for his virtuosity, could come up with such performance.

    Speaking about being screwed by Ozzy and Sharon, I think that on the balance, Bob has still gained more money than he would have gained otherwise. Sharon made Ozzy a household name and a commercial powerhouse. No other project Bob has participated in has even come close to that level of success.

  8. 8
    Uwe Hornung says:

    It’s one of life’s ironies that Rudy Sarzo is mainly known for three or four albums, which he toured after they had become surprise successes:

    – the first two Ozzy albums,

    – the Quiet Riot (I only realize this now while typing: that was probably a pun on “quite right”, duh …) Metal Health “debut to the larger world” (post-Sony Japan only releases)

    – Whitesnake’s 1987.

    However, with the exception of a few tracks on Metal Health (most of it was played by Chuck Wright), he’s on NONE of these albums: The first two Ozzy albums featured Bob Daisley and 1987 had Neil Murray and Don Airey playing the bass parts (according to Keith Olsen a lot of the bass on that album is synth bass added in the aftermath of Neil having recorded his parts, partially even replacing them, because they wanted this synth-bas(s)ed, overblown “wall of sound”). In case you always thought it was all Neil, your ears have been deceived, just as they have been on this track, which features no (string( bass at all in the iconic intro, it’s all played with synth:


    (As a bassist, I hated to break that to you, believe me!)

    That is not knocking Rudy, he’s both visually and musically a fine bass player (I really liked his work with Dio and BÖC), but somehow he never got to use his chops in the studio! On the Slip of the Tongue album, his bass playing is largely buried between Aldridge’s bass drum and the umpteenth Vai overdub …

    “I was always wondering how Dave Spitz, not really known for his virtuosity, could come up with such performance.”

    Jeff Glixman (producer) sent Spitz home during the Eternal Idol sessions because he thought his sound didn’t cut it in the studio. He wanted someone with a strong pick attack ——-> enter Bob Daisley. Spitz, always a bit of a Rudy Sarzo-wannabe, was a finger player.

    “I think that on the balance, Bob has still gained more money than he would have gained otherwise.”

    I agree, Gerorgivs, Sharon is a piece of work, but she had immense commercial nous and – sigh!, as wimmin’ (no, not swimmin’ … wimmin’!) do … – an Iron (Wo)Man will.

  9. 9
    Georgivs says:


    Long live Don Airey, the best bass player among non-bass players! He did bass parts on Priest’s “Painkiller”, too.)

  10. 10
    MacGregor says:

    Regarding Daisley & his possible financial ‘success’, I have not read For Facts Sake, his book telling all & sundry. We always hope session musicians are paid & acknowledged accordingly. Daisley was active in a live band at many times touring, so he may have done ok. Lee Kerslake apparently lost his house & his savings funding his side of the Ozzy circus lawsuit, that unfortunately failed for both of them. I have only read bits here & there & listened to them being interviewed over the years. Maybe Lee was talked into something he may have felt reluctant to be involved in, who can tell. For Facts Sake may reveal all, but there may be certain scenarios not revealed due to the ongoing threat of possible litigation. I should purchase Daisley’s book, but I sort of feel I know enough already, do I need to know more? Nasty crap from you know who it seems. Although Daisley’s book doesn’t only focus on this issue, it is a career retrospective & would be a good read no doubt. Cheers

  11. 11
    MacGregor says:

    Don Airey on the bass, well sort of. Atomic Rooster didn’t have a bass guitarist on their Death Walks Behind You album & tour. The Doors also only had a bass guitarist at certain times in the studio, not sure if they ever had one off stage playing along at al, I think I have read somewhere they may have, occasionally. Hmmmmmm, there seems to be a pattern here for some reason? Were bass guitarists seen as troublesome perhaps? Not worth the money? Not up to nailing the required parts in the music? Surely not, there must be some other reason. Does anyone else know of any other artists that dispensed with the bass guitarist? Their not that bad, the neglected bass guitarists, give them a break! Cheers.

  12. 12
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Dispensed with the bass guitarist? It has become a tiresome fashion! White Stripes, Black Keys, Deap Vally – all those landfill grungy/alternative garage sound guitar/drums duos.

    There should be a law against it!

  13. 13
    MacGregor says:

    Thanks for the heads up re grunge, alternative & garage duos. I ignored that genre big time, I have heard of the first two ‘bands’ you mentioned, not their music though. Trio & bigger in my book, for a ‘band’ that is. Have to have guitar & bass & keyboards also in certain configurations & of course drums. Sheesh, were would we be without drums? In my jamming days over the years it usually turned out to be with a guitarist many times, or a bass guitarist a lot of the time. Most enjoyable for creating ideas etc. I never found it limiting from my perspective. However after a while the craving for that extra instrument was too much. Although in many aspects it was never as creative in many ways. Just the way it panned out. Always depends on ability & chemistry. Some people just don’t work out well with others for different reasons. The more the merrier, perhaps not. Cheers.

  14. 14
    Georgivs says:


    Theo Travis (of the Soft Machine and Gong fame) and his band play really cool music without a bass guitar. This is more of modern jazz than rock, but they sound quite Floydish at times and their rock connection is obvious. You may want to check this live recording (without a string bass, mind you):


  15. 15
    MacGregor says:

    @ 14 – thanks for the clip, I remember Theo from his work with Fripp a few years ago. Strange to hear jazz without a bass of any sort. Although they do get away with it, especially with organ there. Cheers

  16. 16
    Aireight says:

    I can’t help but wonder where Ozzy’s solo would be without Bob’s songwriting.

  17. 17
    Buttockss says:

    Head First is a very good foolow up album to Abonimog.

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