While bass guitarist Rudy Sarzo is most recognized for his career in the United States for his acclaimed work with Quiet Riot, Black Sabbath’s Ozzy Osbourne and Whitesnake, many of Sarzo’s musical instincts were derived from his life in Cuba where he was born 69 years ago today.
Born in a country that turned Communist during Sarzo's childhood, Sarzo and his family moved to the US in 1961, relocating to Miami. Although he was not yet 11 at the time, Sarzo still reflects on the formative impact his upbringing in the Communist country had on his musical identity.
"I would say my earliest musical influences were the kids in the neighborhood, down on the corner from where I lived in Havana...There would be like ten, twenty kids around [the] same car, just playing percussion.”
He described the emotional inspiration he attaches to music with journalist Dmitry M. Epstein stating, “One of the things that fulfills me about rock music in general is the sense of freedom I get when I hear it or play it. If you take a look at the history of Communist countries, rock music is at the top of the list of music that’s banned."
"As a matter of fact, I flew over Cuba recently en route to Miami on my return from a South American tour. As I watched the sunset over Cuba through misty eyes, I cranked up ‘The Who Live At Leeds’ on my iPod.”
The musician's career achievements are what the dreams of rock wannabe are made of, having played with some of the best musicians in rock 'n roll history, including a short stint with Ozzy Osbourne, Quiet Riot and Whitesnake.
While Sarzo was only in Ozzy Osbourne's band for less than two years, he joined Osbourne on the road between March 1981 and September 1982 during the former Black Sabbath lead's moment of rebirth, promoting Osbourne's first new solo albums Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman.
After playing with the legendary historical band, Sarzo rejoined Quiet Riot members Kevin DuBrow, Frankie Banali and Carlos Cavazo post-Diary of a Madman tour to release the record-breaking 1983 debut album Metal Health. The album not only kicked down the door for early Eighties metal, but become the first heavy metal album to to sit atop the Billboard chart.
Sarzo would prove himself a dynamic player throughout the years, recording and performing with his previous Osbourne bandmate Tommy Aldridge snf David Coverdale for Whitesnake, his own band Sun King, Quiet Riot a couple more times, Dio, and Blue Oyster Cult, among others.
Encapsulating his whirlwind of experiences as a top-tier bassist for an avalanche of rock bands and headline tours, Sarzo published the best-selling 2006 book, "Off the Rails: Aboard the Crazy Train In the Blizzard of Ozz," a first-hand testimony to his friendship with Randy Rhoads and Osbourne.
On "The Right to Rock," podcast, Sarzo spoke on the motivation behind publishing the book, "The only reason why I spent a year and half out of my life writing that book was for my friend Randy Rhoads. He's responsible for my career and he's the one that told Ozzy and Sharon [Osbourne] about me and trusted me to bring me in [to play with them]."