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When guitarist Randy Rhoads tragically died in a private
plane crash during Ozzy Osbourne’s “Diary of a Madman”
tour in 1982, you would have thought that the group’s tour
schedule would have ground to a halt, especially when
you consider the “deification” Rhoads (1956-1982) has
enjoyed in subsequent years. But that wasn’t the case,
and I recently watched a DVD of the group’s June 12, 1982
concert at Irvine Meadows, featuring Brad Gillis
(of “Night Ranger” fame) on guitar. This disc proves that
not only must “the show go on,” but it should!

Bassist Rudy Sarzo (1950 – ) provided his liner note
recollections for this 2012 DVD release, and recalled that
everyone was primed to give their all for the concert. Filmed
for MTV and airing on the network on Halloween of that
same year, “Speak of the Devil: Live from Irvine
Meadows ’82” is a 78-minute concert film, showing this
group at their best. The set consisted of 13 songs and
included the ubiquitous guitar and drum solos, using
material drawn from Ozzy’s first two albums, plus
“Iron Man,” “Children of the Grave,” and “Paranoid,” from
Ozzy’s earlier years with Black Sabbath.

This DVD is worth watching, because it shows what an
“on” night could be for this band. Tommy Aldridge sounded
fantastic on drums and his solo was as enjoyable as any
“Heavy Metal” drum solo that I’ve heard. As a rule, I tend
to find drum solos rather tedious, but Aldridge (1950 – )
didn’t overstay his welcome, and concluded his solo using
his hands, in lieu of drumsticks.

Currently, you can find keyboard player Don Airey
(1948 – ) with Deep Purple, but he was with Ozzy in 1982,
and filled in some of the harmonies, along with the famous
intro to “Mr. Crowley.” He otherwise wasn’t a strong
presence. Rudy Sarzo’s bass was also more felt than heard
for much of the time, often lost in the general
“wall of sound,” with the exception of his work on “Believer”
and “Flying High Again.”

Brad Gillis (1957 – ) more than held his own in what
must have been a tense situation following Rhoads’
death. Let’s just say that he admirably rose to the
occasion; although I could have done without his solo,
which amounted to the usual Heavy Metal bag of tricks,
favored by so many guitarists.

And Ozzy Osbourne? He sounded good, with nary an
out of tune moment. Ozzy worked the crowd as only
he could, and delivered a great performance. The three
Black Sabbath tunes weren’t as successful as the rest
of the set, because clearly Ozzy’s band has a different
playing style. I suppose it didn’t matter that much, since
the main point of the set was to entertain the crowd,
who clearly loved it.

The stage set was massive and quite ambitious for 1982,
providing an impressive spectacle. While it was not great,
the recording adequately captured how this concert
might have sounded.

Unlike the “Speak of the Devil” LP that was released around
the same time of this concert, this set didn’t only consist
of Black Sabbath songs. Although that album also featured
Gillis on guitar and was released due to contract obligations,
Ozzy “didn’t want to capitalize on Randy’s death by
performing songs that he’d largely written.” The excellent
“Tribute” album featuring Rhoads’ live performances would
be released at a later date.

At any rate, this DVD release of this historic moment in
time is definitely worth checking out, Rhoads or no Rhoads,
and it’s still a nice snapshot of how successful Ozzy could
be in concert.

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