Jake E. Lee Says Sharon Osbourne Scammed Him
If we asked you to imagine a cartoonishly evil, thieving, shifty band manager, you’d probably sketch in your mind an oaf resembling Don Arden. Arden was one of the classic ’60s managers that created that stereotype: He was accused of cooking books, bullying artists, and pretending to don-hood. One wonders if his type would help break a band but then just couldn’t bring himself to pay them a share. The money is in his hand but his fingers won’t obey him and unclasp. Then to suppress his guilt, he throws a tantrum and claims self defense (or its 2K version: Callin out haters). Who knows.
If all that sounds familiar, well that’s because it’s the same thumbnail of Arden’s daughter, Sharon Osbourne. She’s even craftier, meaner, and more pretentious than pops was. She pulls hair. She talks shit in public. She marries her biggest client. She rips off musicians. So stated Jake E. Lee, guitarist on Ozzy’s Bark At The Moon and The Ultimate Sin, on Eddie Trunk’s show:
“Here’s the truth. This is really gonna get me in more hot water, but whatever, I’m in hot water and I don’t see a way out …
I was told from the get-go, ‘[If] you write part of the songs, you’ll get writing credit, you’ll get publishing. That’s part of your deal.’
So we recorded the album. I’m recording the album at Ridge Farm … in the middle of Scotland. Ridge Farm is actually a farm; the recording studio is in the barn. So I’m by myself. I don’t have management, I don’t have a lawyer, I don’t have anything.
But they promise me, ‘You’ll get what’s coming.’ And I keep asking because I’m getting really close to finishing all my stuff on the record, and finally, once I lay down the final track of my guitar playing, they said, ‘Ah! We have the contract for you.’ And in it, it says, specifically, ‘Ozzy Osbourne wrote all the songs. You had nothing to do with any of the writing, you have no claim to publishing, and you cannot say so publicly.’
And I looked at it. I’m looking at Sharon, and I said, ‘This is not what you told me before.’ And she says, ‘No, it isn’t.’
‘Why do you think I’m gonna sign it?’
‘Because if you don’t, we’ll give you a plane ticket, you go back home and you stand in line and you sue us. In the meantime, we have all your tracks, we’ll get another guitar player, he’ll redo your tracks, and you’ll have nothing.’
Scandalous. One key phrase in Lee’s recounting is found in his contract: “You cannot say so publicly.” That means that Lee has violated the terms of the contract which he signed that day in Scotland via his statements above. If anything were at stake, he may not have done that. So we might conclude that he’s breaking his word for the reason that Ozzy and Sharon already broke theirs. I’m sure we weren’t the only ones who noticed that Lee has been in the wind for like two decades and unlikely to gather the legal force to extract his Ultimate Sin money from Sharon’s butt. So they could stop paying him.
But in 2014, Lee is back with a band called Red Dragon Cartel and interviewers are asking about his time with Ozzy. So the latter can’t keep a lid on the little con that he and his wife used to run on ass-out rockers, where he loved ’em up but stepped out of the room as she entered bearing some sideways legal document. That’s crackhead shit executed by the world’s most famous druggie, don’t take it wrong. But one wonders, again, if Lee can establish legally that his contract was signed under duress. Lee:
“That was mean. What am I gonna do? Really? Am I gonna say, ‘Fine. I’m going home. Take my tracks off. Some other guy will get all the credit for playing guitar, and I still have to try to sue you for the rights?’ It would have been just… not a good decision.
“Well, then, I refused to do [The Ultimate Sin] until I had a contract in front of me promising me writing credit and publishing.
Then Lee got fired at the next convenient opportunity, half-empty resume in hand. Caveat emptor, friends!