Jake E. Lee Talks Figures in Ozzy Osbourne Writing Dispute
Former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Jake E. Lee has previously spoken about the songwriting dispute over Osbourne's 1983 album Bark at the Moon. Now he’s offered a few figures to illustrate his argument.
Lee said in a 2014 interview that he’d signed up to write and record the LP with an agreement including writing credits. But when he was presented a deal to sign, it didn’t include those credits. When he objected, he was told his contributions would be replaced with a new guitarist’s work and he could take his chances in court.
In a recent interview with The Metal Voice, Lee recalled that he was "young, and back in those days there was little information about how the music business works, and I trusted people. I was told from the beginning I would get my fair share of the writing credits and publishing, and I took them at [their] word, which was a mistake – but it was never about the money."
He noted that when he first joined the band, "I’m pretty sure I got paid about $100 a week, but it would incrementally go up because they weren’t sure about me. Then it doubled and it would keep doubling and so on until I proved myself, and I didn’t care. I went from having no money and no band to being in Ozzy.”
You can listen to the full interview below.
Turning to the album deal, he recalled he was "going to get $5,000 to record Bark at the Moon, and get writing credit and publishing. But when I finally got the contract, they threw in another $10,000 to make up for the not having writing and publishing.”
He described the move as “low-balling.” "My portion would have been $250,000 just for [the title track], not having publishing on it," he explained. "Which means there was about $250,000 that Ozzy got instead of me. It’s a lot of money – but I’m not bitter about it.”
As a guide to current value, Lee’s $15,000 payment for his work would be worth an estimated $40,000 today, while the disputed publishing figure of $250,000 would be around $635,000.
Lee also had praise for Osbourne’s musical contribution, saying the singer had little to do with the instrumental parts of songs, but was “really good” at melodies. “Ozzy would pop in [to the studio] towards the end of the night, and he was amazing at how fast he would come up with a melody," he noted. "He didn’t have to work on it. He never did work on it. He heard the music, he grabbed the mic and he had a melody and a catchphrase on what we could build on.”
Meanwhile, Lee’s current band Red Dragon Cartel just released a video for its song “Bitter,” taken from the new album Patina. You can watch it below.