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“I didn’t want to go any further with the fame thing, and I wanted freedom and peace, so I felt it would be crazy to join”: Why Michael Schenker turned down playing with Ozzy Osbourne

“The only way I could think of getting out of the Ozzy gig was by making outrageous demands, so that’s what I did.”

Michael Schenker and Ozzy Osbourne

Image: Chiaki Nozu / Alex Pantling / Getty Images

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Co-founding The Scorpions, playing with UFO, and turning down the likes of Motörhead, Thin Lizzy, and perhaps most famously, Ozzy Osbourne – there’s no one quite like Michael Schenker in the rock business.

In a new interview, the German guitarist shares how, despite his love for Black Sabbath, a ‘voice in his head’ made him say no to the Prince of Darkness’ invitation years ago.

“I got a phone call from Ozzy Osbourne in the middle of the night, stuttering, asking me to help him out because Randy Rhoads had died in that plane crash,” Schenker tells Classic Rock.

“I loved Sabbath, and I should have been delighted to join – I instantly had visions of Ozzy dragging me across the stage by my hair – but a voice in my head said, ‘Michael, follow your vision.’ I’d left UFO and Scorpions because I didn’t want to go any further with the fame thing, and I wanted freedom and peace, so I felt it would be crazy to join.”

As Schenker explains, “Ozzy knew that I was Randy’s favourite guitar player, so he thought I’d be the perfect fit, but it wasn’t the right time: we were already rehearsing the Assault Attack album [Michael Schenker Group’s third record] with Graham Bonnet.”

“The only way I could think of getting out of the Ozzy gig,” he says, “was by making outrageous demands, so that’s what I did.”

“In his book [I Am Ozzy] Ozzy said I asked for a private jet, and that’s true, but it was only so that he’d turn me down.”

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