To be married, and manage, the Prince of Darkness you have to be one tough cookie. However, Carmine Appice saw first-hand in the 80’s how tough, and even spiteful Sharon Osbourne could be.
The feud is well known at this point, but recently Appice recanted the story of his firing from Ozzy’s 1983 Bark at the Moon Tour to Talking Metal with some interesting details.
Appice, who had made a name for himself by drumming for Vanilla Fudge, Pink Floyd, Ted Nugent, Jeff Beck, and many others, said he was first introduced to Osbourne when his band Cactus toured with Black Sabbath. Years later, this lead to an opportunistic phone call from Sharon to meet them at their hotel in London, Appice was in France for business.
Their meeting went well and Carmine was tasked with cleaning up some of the recordings done by then drummer Tommy Aldridge on Ozzy’s third studio album, Bark at the Moon. After signing a contract Appice was quickly drawn into the fold and started rerecording drum parts for the album, recording music videos, and playing live sets on the band’s tour.
Appice was happy at first for not only the opportunity but also the generous parts of his contract which allowed him to brand his drum kit and himself. He was even allowed to sell his own merch alongside Ozzy’s at the tour dates.
“In my contract I had my own merch on the tour, name on the drums. It was cool,” Appice said. “We did the first shows in Europe. It went great, it was good.”
Appice was also supplementing his income by enterprising the idea of teaching his fans through instructional books and in-person clinics.
“I was the first Rock musician to do a clinic and I told Sharon we were lining up masterclasses in every market,” recalled Appice saying the sessions were brining him an extra $1500 a day ($3,898 adjusted for inflation).
“I’m making a lot of money! Im getting paid from Ozzy, and per diems from Ozzy. Im traveling on their dime,” said Appice noting that Sharon did not like this and had become increasingly irritated at that time. “She kept busting my balls!”
Eventually, tensions came to a head when an article about his masterclasses hit a local Cincinnati newspaper.
“That night I come from the masterclass and go backstage and I see that article, copied 30, 40 of them, plastered all over the backstage,” remembered Appice.
Soon his roadie came up with merch in hand to show Appice that someone had cut the head off his t-shirts. At first, he though it as harmless “ballbusting”, the roadie soon revealed that every shirt was defiled. However, this was not the last of it, soon a mechanical failure of his drum set would be the perpetrator’s final message.
“I’m like fuming. I go on stage, I’m beating the drums and I’m thinking of Sharon – time comes for the solo,” said Appice who then was waiting for his roadie to signal to him his drum riser would move forward for his big solo – nothing.
“I’m screaming, ‘what’s going on?!’ After a minute I realize the stage ain’t gonna work.” he shared. “I said to Bob Daisley, ‘do you think she would sabotage he show because of that article that she saw? Bob said, ‘without a doubt she just did that to get back at you.'”
Only a few shows later Tommy Aldridge suddenly reappeared and the next day Appice was fired.
“Why am I fired? She says, ‘Your name is too big. You need to start your own band. We need more of a sideman like Tommy,” Appice recalled. “I was just blown away because it was going great. And I still had masterclasses lined up for the future cities. Which I had to go to and do the masterclasses while Ozzy is playing the arena. It pissed me off.”
Appice would go on the sue for breach of contract and stories from a book he released years later from this era of his career would lead others to peg Sharon Osbourne as the “Nastiest Woman in Rock.” When asked to comment at the time, she said she didn’t even know who Appice was.
Years later he would run into Ozzy serendipitously, who through it all, never held any animosity towards the drummer. Appice would realize this when he saw him while his band King Cobra was practicing and Ozzy would make the simple gesture of helping him paint his band’s new van.
“‘I know you and my missus have problems, but I hope we can still be friends.'” Ozzy said approaching with a hug. “And I go, ‘yeah Oz, I know it’s not you.” Appice replied.
“I bought these vehicles and we’re painting it all white.” Appice explained to Ozzy.
Ozzy was keen to help, “‘You need a hand?’ so I said, ‘sure!’ I put Ozzy on a later and he was on the other side putting tape and brown paper on the windows and, you know, we remained friends.”