Rudy Sarzo

Rudy Sarzo and his brother Robert are leaned over talking to a young man in a wheelchair named Clarke. It is a very exciting moment for the young fan, whose admiration for the bass player is brightly displayed on his face. The brothers spend time with him, taking some photos, signing autographs, before walking over to talk to chat with others who have congregated together in a small back room in the legendary New Orleans music venue Tipitina’s.

Rudy and I are supposed to do our interview once the meet & greet has finished but this is a friendly bunch and it lasts pretty long. After a long ride from their previous show, delays and soundchecks, not to mention a supercharged concert celebrating Queensryche’s 25th anniversary of their groundbreaking Operation: Mindcrime album, the guys are looking a bit tired so I bow out of the in-person in lieu of a phone interview later. Being a journalist, especially in the music business, it’s not easy to postpone an interview when there is a good chance that very well may have been your only chance to speak with someone.

But a few days later, I receive an email from Rudy, asking if we can do our interview once he gets home for a break, and then another one saying he’s ready when I am. With his reputation as being one of the nicest musicians in rock & roll preceding him, this small act of making sure I got my interview only cemented that proclamation. Not only is Rudy Sarzo a friendly, happy-natured gentleman but he is professional and serious about his role as a musician

From playing bass with some of the biggest bands since the 1980’s – Quiet Riot, Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake, Dio and now Queensryche – Rudy has been around the rock & roll carousel more than a few times. He could be arrogant, he could be resentful, he certainly could be jaded. But let me testify, he is not a single one of these things. He loves sharing his stories, he laughs easily as if the memory he is retelling just happened yesterday, and his genuine love for what he does is like a big shining beam emitting from his body.

If you’ve never seen Sarzo on stage, you are missing where he best comes to life. His stage presence is remarkable, whether he’s slamming his bass with his fists on a huge festival stage in front of thousands or doing those same moves on a small, cramped stage for a few hundred, Sarzo is electric. Watching him closely in New Orleans, he smiles often and when chants of “Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!” start echoing through the building, he is noticeably humbled.

Born in Cuba, coming to the United States during a hot bed of revolution, Sarzo started playing in bands early. He moved to LA where he eventually joined Quiet Riot. He was asleep on Ozzy’s tour bus in Florida when his dear friend and bandmate Randy Rhoads was killed in a plane crash immediately after flying over them. He was a member of Whitesnake for their most popular tenure. And he has played in so many other projects that you wonder if there was ever a time when he HASN’T been in a band.

rudy-sarzo-04goodI hear that you’re going to do Lonn Friend’s podcast tonight.

Yes I am. He’s an old buddy of mine. He’s one of the smartest guys I know so it’s going to be a thrill to talk to him and have a conversation. [http://aircheck.us/show/980 – episode #14].

So you’ve been off the road for almost two weeks now. How does it feel to be home and not be doing anything?

Actually, I never do not do anything. I’m always being productive so it just gives me a lot of time to do other stuff.

Like what?

Going to the beach (laughs)

That sounds relaxing

Yeah and it’s productive cause I get all my ideas, my best ideas, at the beach (laughs). No, I’m working on a few other projects that I’ve been working on even before I started touring with Queensryche. So it’s just a matter of bringing certain things to fruition, because you know, you invest a lot of time in it and money in it so these are projects that you really care about. I’m really committed to Queensryche, but also everybody else in the band has their own personal projects that everybody is working on.

So can you tell us what it is you’re working on or is it still kind of hush-hush?

It’s a little bit hush-hush because it’s just a matter of not wanting to let the word out before it actually happens. Some of this stuff we’ve been working on it for about a year and a half. You know, it’s the type of stuff that everybody that’s involved with a project has other projects or other priorities and commitments so it’s a matter of getting everybody in the same room at the same time with everybody else’s schedules (laughs)

Like you said, you seem to always be doing something. Was there ever a time when you weren’t in a band?

Yeah, in elementary school (laughs). In high school, I was in the marching band. It’s really interesting that you mention that. I started playing in my high school years, rock music. Before that I was playing brass or whatever the high school band had open. I started on the trombone, then went to trumpet and then I went to the guitar. Then from the guitar I went to the bass cause they needed a bass player in the neighborhood. Back then in the mid-to-late 1960’s, after the British Invasion, each neighborhood, at least in my neighborhood, each block had a band. That’s what the kids did. We didn’t do anything destructive, no gang members, you know. We were kids and nobody was neither drinking nor doing drugs. And I’m talking about high school kids. So back then it was music. Music was our social network. That’s how we communicated with each other and if you wanted to impress a girl, that was the best way. Either that or being the quarterback on the football team (laughs). So learning to play three chords is a little bit easier than becoming the quarterback. So that was the path that we took.

So yeah, a band to me, is a little family, a little brotherhood or sisterhood, because I played with female keyboard players and singers, even guitar players, before. So it was just a way to socialize. Then later on down the line, it actually became a career. But nevertheless, I always look at a band as a family first and then a business, because it is a business at some point. Not really on stage, cause that’s always making the best music and magic that you can. When you go on stage you should leave the business side of it off the stage and you just play music, just think about what you’re playing, communicate with each other on stage on a musical level.

So to me, yeah, that’s a really, really good question. I can’t even remember. I think my memory starts with me and my first band. Before that, I have very little significant memories of my life. Wow, thank you for stirring that (laughs). I mean, I’ve been in bands that nobody ever heard of, even later on in my career. These are bands that are just like some of the projects that I’m talking about might or might never happen. But I always say I work harder at my failures than I do at my successes. My successes come really easy. It’s my failures that I really work hard at (laughs)

rudyguitaradI heard that when you guys left New Orleans the bus broke down in Texas.

Yeah, well, that’s your transportation but the most important thing is getting to point B from point A. Once you get there, the audience doesn’t care. What goes on onstage, that’s what they’re there for. Whether the band was delayed, broken down on the side of the road or the flight was delayed, no. I mean, if I go watch a show, I go and see the Stones or whatever, I’m not concerned how they got there as long as they got there safely that’s all I really care about. Like what’s going on onstage, the moment they hit that first note, that chord, that’s what I really care about.

But it’s alright, it’s fine. You just deal with it, move on, because it’s funny. Once I hit that last note of the show that night, my mind just automatically just goes to the next show. That’s my mindset: how can I do it better the next time around? You always find room for improvement when you’re on stage and you want to apply that, that improvement, the next time around.

I was going to ask, have you always been so analytical after a show, going over in your head what you just did?

Yeah, yeah, at some level. Sometimes you get more analytical, your analysis is deeper with certain things that you do, with certain bands that you play in. It’s not just about you. It’s about what’s going on onstage and an overall analysis of what just happened on stage. Maybe it’s not just about the way you played the song but just the way you played the song with the other guys, whether you locked in with the drummer. And it’s a very organic process. It’s communication. Basically, you’re telling the same story but that story is going to be told completely different in New Orleans than it was in Amarillo. Do you know what I mean? It’s the same story but presented different.

Is it easier or harder with your brother in the band?

You know what, when I’m on stage, it’s not like, Oh, I’m playing with my brother. What I think is, Oh, I’m playing with a great guitar player. And from all the people I was asked who I could recommend, taking everything into consideration, musical skill and dedication to the band, I couldn’t think of a better guitar player than my brother. Not because he was my brother but just because I know him and I know what he was capable of bringing into the band.

So you probably have a good communication with each other up there.

You must have a good communication. When you’re in a band, we’re all brothers and sisters. That’s the only way you can actually make the best family possible on stage. If your band is your family, and believe me, I’ve been in a couple of dysfunctional band situations before (laughs) but if it’s a really good, harmonious relationship, everybody is part of the family. I treat everybody as a brother and sister. And I told my brother this, the reason why I recommended him was not because he’s my brother but that I thought he was the best guitar player.

Is this the first time that you have played in a big band together?

Yes, the first time in a national touring band

Did you play together when you were kids?

Oh yeah, yeah, of course. That’s how we grew up playing. We were in bands for a long time, up until the late 1970’s.

rudybookYou wrote a wonderful book, Off The Rails, about your time with Randy Rhoads in Ozzy’s band. I was flipping through the pictures last night and you have this photograph of you when you were younger and you have on your little suit and you’re looking very dapper. And you look happy. Robert doesn’t look so happy.

(laughs) Well, yeah, my mom had a nic-name, my parents are still with us, but my mom called my little brother “Vinegar.” That was his nic-name as a kid cause he was always like that. (laughs) He’s happiest when he’s playing music.

What was it like growing up in Cuba?

Oh my God, in the first place, there were no distractions like the internet or anything like that. No high tech. Television didn’t arrive in Cuba till in the early fifties. So it was a whole different thing with family, family was family. That was the center of your being, your existence, your life, was family life. It wasn’t like the kid who was in the corner playing video games on his iPhone or iPad or something like that.

The family ate at the same time at dinner and lunches, we went to school. My parents always took me and my brother everywhere. When we were kids we were going to all these very adult places, like casinos, cause the hotels and the casinos were all in the same neighborhood in Havana. Havana was pretty much like an urban city, very urban, so let’s say you have all these apartment buildings where people lived and next door would be a hotel. Just as in New York. You have people living in apartments, next door is a hotel, and all the hotels had casinos and entertainment, lounge entertainment in the showrooms and stuff like that. I had relatives who were entertainers and dealers, like blackjack dealers and stuff like that, so it was pretty common for my parents to take us to the casinos in the afternoon to say hi to my aunt and uncle and stuff like that. That was like a big part of growing up.

I left Cuba when I was almost eleven years old so I remembered the revolution coming in and have you ever watched Godfather II? It was exactly like that. People went out there and went into the casinos and destroyed all the gaming slot machines and tables and everything, parking meters. They were just basically looting and destruction and whatever. And then the revolution came in and everything changed. But I have a lot of great memories of going to excursions, field trips to different parts of Cuba with my schoolmates. It was a wonderful time. Very simple, very innocent times, especially for kids. For adults, maybe not so because there was a lot of danger going on with the revolution and stuff like that. But as far as the children, we were isolated from that.

When you came over to America, what did you love the most that you didn’t have in Cuba?

Oh freedom, freedom. As soon as Castro came in, everything changed politically and the social climate. I mean, you were exposed to communism. So everything changed. You were watched. As a matter of fact, my parents didn’t let anybody know that we were leaving the country. We just left the apartment like we were going out on a weekend trip, you know. We basically snuck out of our apartment, went to somebody else’s, to a friend’s place who drove us to the airport and that’s where we got our bags. They were just duffle bags. Nothing else, no personal belongings, and that was it. You couldn’t trust anybody. You really couldn’t trust.

And were you aware of that so young?

Oh yeah. We left Cuba between the Bay Of Pigs, that’s when things started tightening up, and by October, you had the Cuban Missile Crisis. And we arrived in the States in September. So yeah, it was thick, a lot of danger in the air.

rudypub2How did you get into music and playing the bass?

Well, they needed a bass player in my little band in my block. Nobody wanted to play bass and since I was mostly interested in playing like lead lines, you know back in the day we had all these instrumental bands like the Ventures, so I was really interested in going in that direction. I didn’t know too many chords, I didn’t know how to play chords, like playing chords for somebody to sing over, so they explained to me that the bass guitar was like doing exactly that, playing like a melody, like a solo, through the whole song. So that is something that I really thought was interesting. And that’s how I started playing the bass, going in that direction. Of course now I know what it’s like to be a bass player but initially that is what attracted me to becoming a bass player.

And we had some great role models back then. We had Paul McCartney and James Jamerson from Motown and Carol Kaye. Later on, of course, we had the most influential guys like Tim Bogert from Vanilla Fudge and John Entwistle from The Who, Chris Squire and Jaco Pastorius, just the whole evolution of the bass guitar.

Do you remember your first bass?

My first bass guitar was a really cheap instrument that I quickly sold because I could barely play it. It was very unplayable. That’s one thing, I do a lot of mentoring to Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp for kids and they bring in all these instruments that I try to play and I go, “Oh my God, I’ve been playing for over forty years and I can barely play this. (laughs) How can you be inspired to play this instrument?” So to me, it’s very important for kids to have quality instruments in their hands at the very, very beginning. Because an instrument should inspire you to play it, not try to defeat you or wrestle you, know what I mean.

In your opinion, how has the bass changed?

Oh my God, I think there has been more of an evolution for bass players than there has been for any other instrument. Because I think guitar and keyboards was pretty much advanced even before rock & roll came into being a popular musical form. You had classical guitar, you didn’t have classical bass. You had classical piano, you got Jazz guitar, but the role of the bass player was very fundamental. Up until certain musicians like Stanley Clarke, Victor Wooten, Jaco Pastorius, the list goes on and on, when they started taking the instrument into a whole different direction. And with rock & roll, you have guys like that, like I mentioned before and Chris Squire, who took the instrument to a whole different level. You know, Tim Bogert.

So I think the bass guitar, the role of the bass, has really evolved quicker. You have all these different styles of playing, like slapping, funk, like Larry Graham did. He basically pioneered that style of playing with Sly & The Family Stone. So people take that style and make it their own and they add on to it. So it’s a very still evolving instrument. As a matter of fact, I’m playing a bass synthesizer nowadays. I can actually play guitar from the bass and it sounds like a guitar but I’m playing the bass, the same bass, but I make it sound like a guitar. I can express myself in a whole different level than I could just dealing with the fundamental of bass notes or the bass frequency. It’s an ever-evolving instrument. It’s very exciting.

How do you make the bass stand out?

By contributing and not taking away from the rest of the band. You have to focus, you have to become the glue of the big picture. Maybe as a performer it might be a whole different thing because you can stand out, your performance tells the story with the performance, not just with the sound but with the visual. That’s a little bit different from actually your musical skills. That’s more your performance skill. But as far as playing, you want to be the role of the bass player, which is melodic and rhythmic at the same time. So you’re like the glue, what glues the drums and the guitars together and get that fundamental cement that you hold everything together.

Bass players always work with the drummers.

I always call the drummer the conductor. The drummer is the conductor. I also call him the bus driver. I played with some guys who their philosophy might be, “Well, I’m going to listen to everything and follow this and that.” So I always make it very, very clear. I say, “Listen, don’t follow me cause I’m following you. You are the conductor.” So we establish that and we’re able to build on that.

Which drummer would you say you have connected with the best in your career?

Oh my God, that’s like you asking a father to pick your favorite kid (laughs). You know, it’s not a matter of who is best, it’s a matter of being able to connect with everybody that you play with. You have to, you have to communicate. It’s like everybody you have a conversation with. You must communicate, you must understand each other and communicate, because that is what playing music is all about. It’s actually a conversation. You hear somebody play something and you follow with, “Yes, I agree with what you are saying and in addition to that check this out.” In some cases, you don’t even say, “in addition to that,” you just follow through and say, “Yes, I agree with what you’re saying” and basically you just become this huge message that you want to relay the audience, whether you’re recording it or whether you’re performing it.

Tommy Aldridge was one of the great drummers you have played with.

I just love playing with Tommy. He was the first guy I got to play with in an arena and a stadium so I learned a lot from him about projecting into the audience. Not as much as a performer but musically locking in with him. Body language, to me, is essential of any drummer. For example, Tommy’s hair. He had this afro-ish hairdo and it would go against the beat when he shook his head, kind of like a bobble head (laughs). The hair would go different direction than the rest of his body did so I was always, “Look at his hands or his shoulders. Don’t look at his hair” because it would throw you off (laughs)

You have a great stage presence. You’re very, very comfortable up there.

Yeah, I’m only comfortable if I know what I’m doing.

Have you always gone by instinct what to do up there or did you plan some of these moves out when you were a kid playing with your hairbrush?

Oh no, no, it’s all very simple. You get yourself inside of the song. To me, for example, it’s a very unique experience to perform the complete Operation: Mindcrime, cause it’s a story, there’s an arch to it, so you have two choices basically. You can just play a bunch of notes, which might be they’re the right notes, or you can live it. Of course you’ve got to play the right notes but it’s more than just playing the notes. You’re living the music. And that’s where the performance comes in. Or even in the studio. You should live it when you lay it down to whatever format you’re using. You must live what you’re playing and you must get inside of the story. So what you might have seen in New Orleans was the band living the album. Not just performing, you are living it. You’re not acting it, you’re being it. And that’s why I always must have the lead vocals, especially in a case with Geoff Tate, loud enough on my monitors so I can hear him sing. I must hear him sing because he’s the storyteller and I must get inside of that story. I used to do the same thing with Ronnie James Dio, one of the greatest storytellers in rock. I listened to everything that he sang. Or you would just get lost within the story.

I noticed that, how Geoff WAS the evil bastard. He projected it so well.

I would say he is the finest singer of his generation. Just take a look at his body of work. Everything he did with Queensryche from Empire to Operation: Mindcrime, all the other great records that he had, his vocal style, his voice, the way he performed his songwriting. I don’t think anyone comes close to that. So I would definitely say that he is the finest singer of his generation.

rudy-sarzo-geoff3

What was it like doing the new Queensryche album?

I played on three songs on Frequency Unknown: “Cold,” “Fallen” and “In The Hands Of God.” I got to play on those three. Geoff asked me if I would play on the record but also to be a member of the band back when the split happened. I would say as far as August, almost a year ago. So it was just kind of like an evolution, like if I’m going to be in the band he wanted me to play on the record also.

When you were writing your book about Randy Rhoads, was it more tears or more smiles?

That’s a great question. You know it was inevitable, of course, writing that last chapter, cause I knew that after I finished that chapter, he wasn’t going to be anymore, living in my head and in my imagination. The other seventeen chapters, he was very much alive in my head. That was a very unique gift about writing the book, to have him back in my life. But I knew at some point, he had to go. Actually, what really surprised me was when I wrote Chapter 19, which is the chapter dealing with the plane crash, how quickly everything just poured out. It was very cathartic. It was emotions that were being held back for over twenty years so I was able to lift them off my shoulder and put them down onto the page. And by the end of the book, another wonderful gift that I received was closure. Something that I had no idea I needed, or would get closure from it. The biggest reward I received from writing the book was writing the book itself.

One of the things that I find fascinating about Randy, other than his guitar playing, is that he was still teaching the whole time and that he was also still learning. From what I’ve heard, he was still seeking out people to teach him more.

Absolutely, yeah, his plan right before he died was to go back to school and get his Masters in music. He wasn’t really interested in being the rock star. He was more interested in being Randy Rhoads the best musician that he could be and that was it. That’s the path that he was going on. I’ve never met anybody since who turned their back on stardom and just wanted to become a better musician, nothing else. That was his focus.

quiet-riot-metal-health5You did Metal Health with Quiet Riot, which was a huge album. I’ve heard you say that that was like the little album that could, cause nobody expected it to be that big.

Yeah, when we did that record, there were two things going on. First, was my point of view on the New Wave or British Metal that was happening that I was aware of because I had been playing with Ozzy and I’d been touring Europe and touring England and so on with bands like Saxon or Motorhead, Def Leppard, and I was aware of the other bands like Iron Maiden and so on. So I knew what was going on and I knew of the popularity and the big audience acceptance for such a style of music.

Now, back in LA, which is where Quiet Riot the Metal Health version was and the record industry was, they had no idea. They turned a blind eye to everything that was going on in Europe and in England and were just concentrating on still the New Wave scene that was still happening in LA. So when we were recording Metal Health, nobody gave us any chance basically. We had Metal Health mastered, ready to be released within two or three months, and nobody wanted to manage the band. Nobody. We had to beg a former Quiet Riot manager to come out of retirement and he was like, “Ok, well, let’s see what happens.” (laughs) Ok, it was released in March and by November it was number one. And we’re talking number one where our competition was Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Synchronicity [The Police] and every other great record that came out that year. That’s quite an achievement. It’s definitely the little record that could.

What was it like working with Tony MacAlpine [M.A.R.S.]?

Oh Tony MacAlpine, that’s a question that should be asked more often, but it’s not. So thank you for asking that. Tony, to me, when people ask me, who was the best musician, that’s the key word musician, that I’ve ever worked with, I have to say Tony MacAlpine. Tony was actually a classical pianist. He studied Chopin and basically what he did was take his musical knowledge at the piano, classical piano, and apply that to the guitar. So as far as musical knowledge, he is the most knowledgeable musician I have ever played with, ever. He goes beyond the average knowledge of a rock musician. Just an incredible, nice person, incredibly talented, driven. He’s about as close as I’d say, as I ever worked with to a genius, musical genius. Because not only could he apply his skills to classical and rock, but he could play anything. He could play R&B, funk, Middle Eastern music; it didn’t matter to him. Music was music. It just transcends genres.

Who was the first real rock star that you ever met?

That is a really, really good question. Let me see. Well, in the 70’s I met, just meeting, like shaking hands, the guy from Three Dog Night. Growing up, Three Dog Night was like pretty big. Then I started hanging out at the Rainbow in LA, things like that, and I got to meet quite a few because they were all just hanging there. It’s not somebody that I befriended but was kind of like rubbing elbows with. I’d meet anybody from the guys with The Who or Led Zeppelin. But I would say that the biggest one, the first big, big, big one that I ever met was Ringo. Frankie Banalli, when we first got to LA, we were staying at Ringo’s house. He was out of town filming a movie and his assistant let us stay there because she was by herself here in the Hollywood Hills and it was better to have company. Because, and this is an important fact, the Manson family used to stalk Ringo and at night we would see their van parked above where the house was. It was in the Hollywood Hills so the house was below a hillside, and you could see their van. Sometimes you could hear them running on the roof of the house. It was a little scary but we were basically there to be some sort of protection, I guess. One day we actually helped Ringo move out of that house to another house that he bought. So we met him. He is an incredibly charming, lovely man. He gave Frankie and me $20 bill and we thought, we’re going to save this for the rest of our lives. This is going to be a lucky $20 bill from Ringo (laughs). So that night we went to the Rainbow and we just drank and had a pizza. That’s what we spent it on (laughs).

randy-rhoads-guitar-world-cWhat is the most interesting piece of memorabilia that you own from your career?

I got a few Ozzy-related things. I actually have Randy’s practice little amplifier, backstage amp, that he gave me because, towards the end, actually before he passed away, he got really heavily into classical guitar and I had a bass synthesizer, like the first one ever made. So I needed an amplifier and Randy said, “Well listen, I’m not practicing electric guitar before the show so here just keep mine, my little amplifier, so you can plug in your synthesizer bass.” So Ozzy used to walk into a room with Randy in one corner playing classical music and I’m like making all these awful sounds with the bass synthesizer because I’m trying to learn this. And Ozzy would just like freak out and say, “I just want to hear some rock & roll, man.” (laughs)

How did you stay normal around Ozzy?

Well that’s it, he was my best inspiration to embrace normality (laughs). People ask me, “Oh, how come you didn’t really go overboard with drugs and alcohol when you were playing with Ozzy?” It was simple: Just watch him and say, “I want to be like that.” (laughs) Like you would show up in the afternoon and he had got this god awful tattoo. Remember, this was thirty years ago and not everybody had tattoos. Now it’s like pretty normal but back then it was like, “Wow, what are you doing to yourself?” He kind of pioneered all that, having all these tattoos, and they were of all these like monsters coming out of his chest and I’d go, “Where’d you get that?” And he says, “Oh, I don’t remember. I got drunk and I woke up and now I have this thing on my chest.” (laughs) It was like, alright, mental note: do not get drunk with Ozzy cause you don’t want to wake up with one of these awful things on your chest (laughs). But, it was fun. No matter what it was, it was fun. It was a lot of fun. Nobody got seriously hurt.

Was it fun in Whitesnake?

I had a blast. It was so much fun.

That album exploded but you weren’t actually on that Whitesnake album.

Neither was the rest of the band. As a matter of fact, Tommy and I were asked to play on that record, actually to join the band two years before, and my own personal point of view about joining the band, because you see what happened was Whitesnake was opening up for Quiet Riot during the 1984 Condition Critical tour. So we got to spend time together. So the last night of the tour, David gives me a good-bye hug and whispers in my ear, “Someday we’re going to play together.” And by the time that I left the band a few months later, I got the call from his management to come over to the office and talk about the possibility of Tommy Aldridge and I joining Whitesnake. I knew, I just knew, about the personality conflict between David and John Sykes, cause I got to experience that during the 1984 tour and I just didn’t want to go from one bad situation to another bad situation. So I opted not to join the band at that time.

When we got the call again a couple years later, John Sykes was not in the band anymore so it was like a fresh start for Whitesnake. We got the call to come in and do the video for “Still Of The Night.” That was the first video and that’s how we all got together, Vivian Campbell, Adrian, Tommy, David and myself. And of course Tawny. You cannot leave out Tawny (laughs).

I haven’t heard anything about Adrian Vandenberg in a long time.

Oh Adrian, yeah, he’s got his Vandenberg band again and he’s actually doing very well. He lives in Holland and he plays and check him out on Facebook. Outstanding musician.

Last question: After all these years of playing music, has it been everything you imagined it to be?

Oh yeah, way more. I mean, I have a pretty wild imagination but it superseded anything that I could even think of. And it’s not just the top, it’s getting to the top. And I’ve been to the top so many times now, with Ozzy, with Quiet Riot, with Whitesnake, and with Dio that was really significant. And now with Queensryche, we’re on a really good journey and a really excellent path and all that. And everything else that I do in between. But yeah, it’s the journey that is the most fulfilling rather than the destination of getting to the top. All the people that you meet, all the friends that you make, it’s not once you get up there, no. It’s everything else that happens in between.

And the feeling you must get when you hear fans chanting your name during a concert, I can’t even imagine.

It’s one of those unexpected, magical moments that you find in your life just when you think you have experienced everything else (laughs). A whole different layer reveals itself. But you know what, things like that, they just humble me and make me want to be a better musician than I’ve ever been.

Live photos by Leslie Michele Derrough

 

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