The Diary of a Mad Man.
I came from a working class family in the western suburbs of Sydney, Australia, and ended up in London working with the biggest names in Rock.
— Bob Daisley, “For Facts Sake.”
s a teen, my rowdy musical clique used to think of rock bassist Bob Daisley as a god.
Even if you are into hard rock/metal, you might not know the name Bob Daisley. Why? Because he is a bass player. And bass players – unless they’re Gene Simmons or Jaco Pastorius – don’t really get the credit or recognition they deserve. But for those of us who would devour every liner note on album sleeves (those big square cardboard things that used to hold “records,” kids) and pay attention to the “music scene” (that’s the thing that used to happen in real life before the internet, kids), this guy Daisley seemed to be everywhere; “one degree” from all the big names – Rainbow, Uriah Heep, Ozzy Osbourne, Gary Moore, Black Sabbath…
And we music aficionados (at least, that’s what our girlfriends thought we were) pondered on why this quiet, unassuming guy was being hired by everyone under the rock and roll sun. He was never the specialist soloist (like John Entwistle), never the limelight-grabber (like Billy Sheehan), and for sheer bassist name-recognition, even hard rock fans would more likely cite the galloping hooves of Steve Harris or the pounding doom of Geezer Butler over the studied sturdiness of Bob Who? (Funny thing is, Harris and Butler are both admittedly fans of Bob Who.) So what made this guy so much in demand? How did he share albums and arenas with the Olympian gods of rock? We figured he was just one of the hardest working bastards in rock and roll; staunch, dependable, reliable, who didn’t stir any egomania waves with all the super-guitarists he worked with. And we were right.
Bob’s autobiography, For Facts Sake (Thompson Music 2013), only confirms what we figured to be true. And so much more! It’s a rock and rollercoaster ride, meticulously detailed from Bob’s own madman’s diary, detailing each remarkable step he took to share whiskeys with Bon Scott, stages with Randy Rhoads and studios with Yngwie J. Malmsteen. And for any Musician wondering about the “Scenes Missing” in the steps from bedroom guitar-wannabe wanker to World Class Rock Star Wanker, it’s all here, without missing a wank.
A down-to-Earth insider recounting, full-color rare photos on almost every glossy page (which makes the book weigh in at a respectable Randy Rhoads Polka Dot Flying V), liberally sprinkled with swear words and stardust and Python references; of a life spent, if not in the spotlight, then surely on its blazing periphery. Never the hounded subject of paparazzi, never the victim of salacious scandal, Bob has yet seen it all and done it all at the topmost echelons of his industry. The names slide by surreally… Bob’s friendships, drunken nights and musical acquaintanceships with Vanda and Young, Plant and Page, AC/DC, Eric Singer, Alice Cooper, Phil Lynott, The Mighty Jon Lord, Carmine Appice, Paul Rodgers, Ian Gillan, Ronnie James Dio, Steve Morse, Motley Crue, Steve Vai, even Australian superstar Jimmy Barnes. Hell, Bob’s even jammed with Ricky Gervais (long before Gervais became David Brent, though now we see where Brent’s dabblings in rock came from – reality!). There are accounts of his formative early bands (Widowmaker, Kahvas Jute, Chicken Shack) and later acts that can be labeled with the idiotic moniker “supergroup” (Mother’s Army, Hoochie Coochie Men, Living Loud); world-girdling tour schedules, family life and loves, equipment and recording, spiritual philosophies and conspiracy theories, writing and rehearsing, drinking and drugging… and look at that magnificent hair!
Through it all, Bob’s tongue-in-ass-cheek personality shines bright, never losing sight of the fact that, even in the direst of times (court proceedings, cancelled tours, deaths in the musical family), he was one fortunate cookie to be doing what he loved and getting paid for it. Well, mostly getting paid…
Now I don’t want to get off on a tangent about Ozzy Osbourne, because there is a singular love-hate relationship Bob shares with that untalented git (yes, I said it, so I guess I’ll have to get off on a tangent now to explain myself – goddamit!), but after Bob being constantly screwed out of royalties by Ozzy management, while still retaining an ongoing friendship with The Ozamataz himself, I feel the air needs clearing…
I’ve never had much respect or love for Ozzy Osbourne. Black Sabbath was a singularly unique powerhouse entity, but I’ve always maintained that as a solo artist, the monotonal Ozzy was only as good as the hotshots he surrounded himself with. I’m not saying anything that Ozzy doesn’t already know about himself. For Facts Sake, whether intentionally or not, only confirms my long-held views. Bob was inexplicably drawn back time and again to the Ozzy camp, creating his largest body of lyrical and songwriting work through Osbourne’s albums, even through ongoing royalty disputes, sudden cancellations, contractual breaches, payments withheld, outright stealing of his songs, not being credited, others being credited for his work, the diss-list goes on…
Way back when the Earth was forming (in 1980), The Blizzard of Ozz coalesced. It was NOT a solo Ozzy project – it was the name of the band that brought together veteran Uriah Heep drummer Lee Kerslake, wunderkind guitarist Randy Rhoads, ex-Black Sabbath vocalist Ozzy Osbourne and Bob Daisley. Like its play-on-words namesake, THE WIZARD OF OZ, this band would whirlwind Bob out of the mildly-successful London music scene into an international fantasyland, where he would meet a Wizard (Randy Rhoads), a Cowardly Lion (Ozzy) and a Wicked Witch (Sharon Osbourne). Randy’s untimely death in 1982 meant he would be spared the misery of his two bandmates, who were ripped off and disrespected through the years by Ozzy’s increasingly grasping management team.
Bob’s revelations about the Ozzy camp simply infuriate me, especially after Sharon Arden enters the picture as manager of the band, marries the goldmine shaped like Ozzy and starts taking Bob roughly from behind.
It gets to the point where every time Sharon Osbourne calls Bob (which is about once every ten pages), we feel sorry for the guy when he accepts the gig (whether he’s performing live, recording, or just providing lyrics), because we know – we just know – that somehow Sharon is going to screw him. One page later, Sharon screws him. Bob always retains a soft spot for Ozzy – probably in the same way one would love a retarded child – attributing his bad experiences to Sharon’s avarice. Ten pages later, she calls him again to help Ozzy out of a jam. And again, before he has time to even lube up, Bob accepts…
And though Randy was truly a spectacularly gifted guitarist, I feel that the Ozzy-Sharon machine tout his legacy for their own venal purposes. I especially love/hate that famous picture of Ozzy holding Randy up by one leg. It’s an awe-inspiring career-making shot, but it was one helluva lucky pic – for both Ozzy and the photographer, because Ozzy is a useless – read that again – useless frontman. Don’t take my word for it, watch any live undoctored Ozzy video. His “frontmanship” consists of clapping almost in time to the music, plucking the mic off its stand and clipping it back on again, and wandering flat-footed in both directions across stage, like a bum looking for a contact lens, intermittently yelling “You people are crazy!” and “I love you people!” Rinse, Recycle, Repeat. Wander. Clap. (No, but Dunmore – tell us what you really think of Ozzy…)
Due to the hotshots, the music was great, but Ozzy himself has always been the weakest link in his own lineups, Sabbath included. Like Jim Morrison, he is a stoned, drunk loser. Again, no need to simply take my word – in Bob’s own words, “You know, when he came out of Sabbath, he was almost considered to be without credibility because he got fired for being non-productive, drunk and lazy.” Ozzy has been fashioned into an economic cog, so I understand how and why he exists in the music industry; for this reason, his legions of fans will never realize their demon prince/godfather of metal is a media-generated hoax. At least Morrison wrote his own lyrics. Ozzy couldn’t even do that. Bob wrote 90% of them, and together with the other players, crafted the music. Generations later, the Ozzy-Sharon cuntery machine have successfully rewritten history to make it seem like Ozzy was the sole creative force all the way from the Blizzard Of Ozz album (1980) to the present. And let’s face it, Ozzy couldn’t have even re-written history if it weren’t for Sharon doing it for him.
These are the “facts” of the book’s name that Bob would have us know. Throughout the book, babyface Bob’s sweet, mild-mannered personality is obvious; his work ethic, honesty and talent enable him to get along with anyone who reciprocates that respect; he dabbles in one of the most non-intrusive, peaceful “religions” (Buddhism), and doesn’t seem to have any legal or personal animosity toward any other artist or company that he deals with – except Sharon Osbourne.
Back in a simpler time when Ozzy’s “contract” with players was simply “Here’s me hand, here’s me heart,” Bob wrote Steal Away The Night for him. Apologies in advance for the bad pun, but I think Bob maybe should’ve named it Steal Away The Rights.
The only downside of For Facts Sake – more of a personal gripe than a “problem”: no Index and no Contents. I would also love to see an Appendix listing Bob’s discography (albums, singles, EPs), songs written by Bob (and for whom), and videography. All these elements appear in the body of the text, but with no Index, it’s hard to relocate this info when we’re trying to track down Bob’s output on the internet. (For example, I see that Bob has written a song for Ozzy, and performed that song on the album, but when I look up the video for that song, there’s some other bass-tard on the video! Thanks for wasting my time, Sharon, with your fickle revolving door of musicians! (Can you empathize with Bob’s annoyance now?) It’s no small thing I ask; obviously if Bob did further printings of this book (let’s hope for the best, my old son!) with these addendums, it would ratchet up the expense to the point of Randy Rhoads Polka Dot Flying V – but if you want to leave a legacy with all these things in one place, well, what better place to leave it?
I dunno…maybe on the internet itself?
And one last thing: There is a small taste of Conspiracy Bob sprinkled passim, where he espouses his views on contentious cultural subjects. I would love to see these views expanded, in Bob’s inimitable style, in another book entirely, separate from this musical journey. (Bob is an ardent follower of David Icke, a kind of sociological prophet, whose tirades on New World Orders sometimes come off as a little too Polka Dot Without The Flying V, if they are not seasoned with the requisite background knowledge.) Bob and I share similar-yet-nuanced views on all the biggies: 9-11, government duplicity, climate change, etc. but in reading this book, we cannot grasp the depths of Bob’s rantings when they are given such short shrift within the context of road tales, cocaine abuse and fart jokes…
You will laugh, you will be taken aback, you will be informed, you will recognize many names and learn of new ones, you will nod your head at times, at other times call bullshit, and yes, you will weep when a death in the rock and roll family shakes us to our blues roots. Bob has penned this tome in an era when the old gods are vanishing. He was as much a part of their stories as their stories were a part of our lives; with tears in our eyes, we read of the last curtain calls of: Bon Scott, Phil Lynott, John Bonham, Cozy Powell, Gary Moore, Boz Burell, Ronnie James Dio, The Mighty Jon Lord, et al.
When that great Rock And Roll Book is eventually written, Bob can rest assured his babyface mug will be all over it. And when he joins those other gods, he can now also rest assured that he’s left something for us Earthly mugs to cherish – a Randy Rhoads Polka Dot Flying V. Oh, and this book…
On yer Bob, my old son!