Few rock singers know how to recruit guitarists like Ozzy Osbourne.
The Prince of Darkness was bound to have sky-high standards after spending a decade with Black Sabbath cohort Tony Iommi, whose down-tuned, doom-laden riffs and molten solos birthed an entire genre almost single-handedly. Perhaps that’s why he auditioned Thin Lizzy virtuoso Gary Moore and Dokken shredder George Lynch for his solo band before landing on former Quiet Riot guitarist Randy Rhoads.
Together, Osbourne and Rhoads made heavy-metal history with Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman, combining poppy vocal melodies, pseudo-occult musings and blistering, neoclassical guitar acrobatics. In two short years, Rhoads wrote more canonical metal riffs and solos — “Crazy Train,” “Mr. Crowley,” “I Don’t Know,” “Over the Mountain,” “Flying High Again,” “Diary of a Madman” — than most guitarists could dream of writing in a lifetime.
When Rhoads died in a plane crash on March 19, 1982, at the age of 25, Osbourne wasted no time recruiting top-tier talent to fill his collaborator’s shoes. Short-term replacements Bernie Torme and Night Ranger‘s Brad Gillis assisted on the road before he found hotshot shredder Jake E. Lee to take up the mantle on 1983’s Bark at the Moon.
Without Lee, it’s possible Osbourne would have never stabilized his career and begun the process of recovering from Rhoads’ death. The guitarist often gets overshadowed by both his predecessor, Rhoads, and his successor, Zakk Wylde. Across three long-term tenures, the blonde-maned, bullseye-guitar-wielding shredder co-wrote some of Osbourne’s biggest and most iconic songs, including “No More Tears,” “Mama I’m Coming Home,” “Road to Nowhere” and “Perry Mason.”
Along the way, Osbourne has had help from several other world-class guitarists, including David Lee Roth alumni Joe Holmes and Steve Vai, Firewind leader Gus G, Testament axman Alex Skolnick and Alice in Chains co-founder Jerry Cantrell. And on 2020’s Ordinary Man and 2022’s Patient Number 9, producer Andrew Watt lent his guitar talents alongside a slew of guest players, including Slash, Tom Morello, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and more.
Whether their role was large or small, these six-stringers all played an important part in Osbourne’s story. Read on to see all of the guitarists who have played in Ozzy Osbourne’s solo band.
Ozzy Osbourne’s Guitar Players: A Complete History 1979-2022
Few rock singers know how to recruit guitarists like the Prince of Darkness.