Ozzy Osbourne’s Decision to Decline Randy Rhoads’ Preferred Guitarist as Replacement Explained

Published by Cel Manero from Global One Media, Inc.

In a recent extensive interview with Classic Rock, Michael Schenker, renowned for his influential career spanning Scorpions, UFO, and his self-titled band, shed light on a pivotal moment when he turned down a significant opportunity that could have catapulted him to greater musical prominence. The interview delves into the period following the death of guitarist Randy Rhoads and the subsequent call from Ozzy Osbourne, explaining Schenker’s decision not to step in.

At the time of Osbourne’s invitation, Michael Schenker Group was still navigating the complexities of their sophomore album. Schenker reminisced about the creative process, highlighting the quality of the songs written with Gary and their recording experience at John Henry’s in London. However, the pace of events accelerated, leading to the recording of a live album, “One Night At Budokan” in 1982, and a transition in band members with Graham Bonnett joining.

In the midst of these changes, Schenker received a late-night call from Ozzy Osbourne, who was grappling with the aftermath of Randy Rhoads’ tragic plane crash. Despite the allure of joining Osbourne’s band, Schenker ultimately opted against it, citing the tumultuous state of his own musical endeavors during that period.

MSG’s eponymous second album hit the shelves in September 1981, closely followed by the One Night at Budokan live album in February 1982. Tragically, Randy Rhoads’ fatal plane crash occurred on March 19, 1982, placing Michael Schenker in the midst of various significant events within a short timeframe.

Expressing his initial excitement about the prospect of joining Ozzy Osbourne after Rhoads’ demise, Schenker acknowledged visions of a dramatic stage presence with Ozzy. However, he ultimately chose to follow his own vision of seeking freedom and peace, a departure from the fame-oriented trajectory he had left behind with UFO and Scorpions.

Despite being aware that he was Randy Rhoads’ preferred guitarist and considered a perfect fit by Osbourne, Schenker found himself rehearsing for the Assault Attack album with Graham Bonnett. Recognizing the difficulty of declining such an enticing opportunity, Schenker opted for an indirect approach by making outrageous demands, such as requesting a private jet, ensuring that Osbourne would reject the proposition.

This wasn’t the first time Schenker had turned down significant offers. In 1979, he declined invitations from Thin Lizzy and Aerosmith before establishing the Michael Schenker Group. Reflecting on these opportunities, Schenker explained his reluctance to join Thin Lizzy despite his friendship with Phil Lynott and recalled his brief stint rehearsing with Aerosmith, which ended abruptly due to misunderstandings.

Additionally, Schenker revealed that Lemmy Kilmister once approached him to be the lead guitarist for the original lineup of Motorhead. However, Schenker declined the offer, stating that he couldn’t envision it working for him, despite his previous touring experience with Lemmy in Hawkwind.

These insights showcase the intricate decisions and opportunities that have shaped Michael Schenker’s distinctive career path.