Drummer Vinny Appice has enjoyed a historic career, pounding the skins alongside Ronnie James Dio in and out of Black Sabbath. Before linking up with Sabbath as Bill Ward’s replacement for the Mob Rules album, however, he had turned down an offer to join Ozzy Osbourne’s solo band in 1980.
After his ouster from the ranks of Black Sabbath in 1979, Sharon Osbourne (then Sharon Arden) prioritized reviving Ozzy’s career as a solo artist and helped assemble the initial lineup that went on to record the Blizzard of Ozz debut.
Although Uriah Heep’s Lee Kerslake was ultimately selected as Ozzy’s drummer, it was Appice who had previously been offered an audition for the vacant role.
“Before the Sabbath thing I got a call from Sharon Osbourne saying she is putting a new band together for Ozzy and they wanted me to fly to England and hang out with Ozzy and see how we would get along and possibly be in the band,” Appice said in an interview with The Metal Voice (video below).
“I thought I would ask my brother Carmine about Ozzy and I decided not to do it,” he elaborated, “So I actually turned that gig down and then about two months later I get a call from Sabbath saying they are in town looking for a drummer. Bill Ward left the tour and they heard about me and would you like to come down and meet Tony Iommi at the hotel in L.A., so I said yeah.”
Appice had previously recorded an album with the band Axis, which Iommi had in hand when the two met and remarked that he liked the drum sound on it.”
Tony liked the album and we got along great,” continued Appice. “Tony then invited me to rehearse the next day with Black Sabbath. That is when I met Ronnie, Geezer Butler and Geoff Nicholls who was the keyboardist and the first song we ever played was ‘Neon Knights’ ’cause I heard it on the radio a couple of weeks before.”
Offering his thoughts on Dio’s abilities, the drummer went on, “I thought, ‘Wow that new singer for Sabbath sounds great,’ ’cause at the time I didn’t really follow Dio. The rehearsal went really well so they asked me to join the band until Bill comes back. That was the premise. We only had four days of rehearsal before the next show.”
Appice’s first show with Black Sabbath was at Aloha Stadium in Hawaii, where he had hand-written notes to help guide him through the songs in the set, which he was still in the process of learning.
He later recorded Mob Rules with the group before he and Ronnie James Dio both exited the lineup and went on to release several albums with the Dio band.
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