Steve Vai says that he and Ozzy Osbourne wrote and recorded an entire album together during the mid ‘90s that never got released, and that sadly will most likely never be released owing to rights issues.
Vai was speaking to Eonmusic about the newly released Vai/Gash album when the conversation turned to Ozzy. He was one of a number of artists that hooked up with the Prince of Darkness during the writing process for Ozzmosis. One of his tracks, My Little Man, which was co-written with Motörhead’s Lemmy, making the final cut. But Vai has revealed that there was a whole album of material on tape, and he took a far out approach to his tones, sending his electric guitar through an octave effect for the rhythm parts.
“Well, I’m sitting on a whole Ozzy record, and it's like the Gash record – not 'like' the Gash record – but it's a project that I recorded that's sitting on the shelf,” said Vai. “I don’t have any control over it or rights to it, obviously, but we did record some pretty good stuff.”
By Ozzy’s Ozzmosis era, Vai had already collaborated with some legendary vocalists. He had made his bones with Frank Zappa before joining David Lee Roth’s all-star solo band, then later flanking rock royalty alongside David Coverdale in Whitesnake. An Ozzy band led by Vai on guitar looked possible.
“Ozzy and I got carried away because we were having a lot of fun, and we ended up recording a lot of stuff,” said Vai. “And then we started scheming; 'Hey, let’s make a new record!' And all that was fine and good, and we got excited about it until the hammer came down, and they basically said, ‘What are you doing? No, you’ve just got to take a song from Vai and finish your record. We’re already into it for this much money, and Vai is [expensive].’”
What he and Ozzy would have cooked up together would have been fascinating, especially with Vai explaining how all of his rhythm parts were processed by an octaver, which would have added some serious weight to his tone.
“The interesting thing about that stuff we recorded from a guitar perspective is all of my rhythm guitar parts, I use an octave divider,” he said. “That record doesn’t sound like anything else. There was some real, real heavy stuff… That was a conscious effort.
“I thought, ‘Okay, you’re going to work with Ozzy, and all these incredible guitar players have played with Ozzy; what are you going to do?’ I was not going to be conventional. Yeah, that’s not me as you know, but I had to be accessible, so I thought, ‘I'm going to use an octave divider on everything.”
Two of the tracks did end up being reworked and used by Vai. Danger Zone was one that Vai had already for his project with Johnny ‘Gash’ Sombrotto on vocals, a record that was started around 1990 but was never finished. Vai shelved the material after Gash’s death in ’98 and only released it this year. Another was Dyin’ Day, which ended up on as an instrumental 1996’s Fire Garden with Ozzy sharing a cowriting credit.