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Ozzy Sued By Fan Over 'Deceitful' Remasters 


02-22-05
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(antiMUSIC) Ozzy Osbourne's apparent attempt to thwart one lawsuit has brought about another one. An Illinois man is suing Osbourne's record label, Epic, over the "remastered" versions of his first two studio albums "Blizzard of Ozz" and "Diary of a Madman". 

Anthony Wester filed suit last week in Cook County Circuit Court, according to the Chicago Sun Times. Wester is seeking compensation for himself and anyone else that purchased copies of the two remastered albums, claiming he was duped into buying a remaster of the original recordings only to discover that the albums had been altered by the replacement of the bass and drum tracks 

Epic issued the new versions of the album in April of 2002 as "remastered" editions; however they failed to mention on the cover that the bass tracks of Bob Daisley and drum tracks of Lee Kerslake had been removed and rerecorded by Ozzy's then drummer and bass player, Robert Trujillo and Mike Bordin.

One fan wrote on Amazon.com that the rerecording of the tracks was like "painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa!" 

Many saw the move on Osbourne's part as a way to avoid paying royalties to his former bandmates. Daisley and Kerslake were suing him for unpaid royalties. A month after the reissues were released the musicians issued a press release explaining their lawsuit as well as blasting the "remastered" versions and warning fans to stay away. "Adding insult to injury, this artistic dismemberment was accomplished without any notice on the covers and only scant mention in the inside liner notes".  

Daisley addressed the "remasters" directly, “We’ve had to file two lawsuits and fight for the past 20 years to get paid for our work on these albums and now they go and slap us, and the fans, in the face with these dreadful re-masters.”  The press release also gave a reported reason for the move on Osbourne's part, "While Sharon Osbourne, Ozzy’s wife and manager, claims that the performances were removed because Bob and Lee have been “harassing” and “unjust” to their family, Bob and Lee have had no direct contact with the Osbournes in years.  All communications have been through the parties’ attorneys, with the express purpose of getting Bob and Lee the payment and recognition for their work that they are due and were promised.  Also contrary to Sharon’s assertion is the fact that Bob’s performances were not removed from the three other Ozzy albums on which he performed, albums that are not part of the lawsuit."

Daisley and Kerslake's $20 million lawsuit was dismissed in August of 2002 by Federal Court Judge Christina Snyder because the statute of limitation had passed. 

The Chicago Sun Times reports that since their parts were removed from the 2002 versions of the albums, they can not obtain royalties.  The albums have sold an estimated 10 million copies since their original released in 1980 and 1981.  Sales numbers for the reissued version were not available at press time.  

In October of 1994 "Diary of a Madman" was certified triple platinum (3 million units sold in the U.S.) by the RIAA. "Blizzard of Oz" was certified 4 times platinum (4 million units sold) in August of 1997. 

The Diasley/Kerslake press release offered the following background information on their contributions to the original recording and their lawsuit:  Bob Daisley joined Ozzy and Randy Rhoads to form a new band around the end of 1979; after auditioning multiple drummers, Lee Kerslake was added in 1980.  Bob wrote all the lyrics and co-wrote the music for “Blizzard of Ozz” and “Diary of a Madman,” including the famous “Crazy Train,” “Suicide Solution” and “Mr. Crowley” (Randy wrote the instrumental “Dee” from “Blizzard” all alone).  Lee also joined in co-writing the music for one song from “Blizzard” (“No Bone Movies”), because most of it had been written, by Bob, Randy and Ozzy, when he joined.  However, Lee along with Bob, Randy and Ozzy co-wrote all but two of the songs from “Diary” (the other two being co-written by Bob, Randy and Ozzy). Additionally, Bob and Lee co-produced both albums and – up until the current re-issues – they performed ALL bass and drums for both albums, to date still Ozzy’s highest selling and reaching mythic multi-platinum proportions.  However, in 1981, nearly the night before the first U.S. tour, Sharon, by phone from the U.S., phoned and fired both Bob and Lee from the band.  This is when the litigation began, in 1981, against the then-record label Jet Records, owned by Sharon’s father, Don Arden.  Despite a settlement with Jet in 1986, the same problems arose again: lack of proper credit on “Diary,” and then on “The Ozzman Cometh,” and underpayment of royalties.  Hence, in August 1998, the current suit was filed against Sharon, Ozzy and Ozzy’s various companies (i.e., Blizzard Music, which controls publishing royalties, and Monowise Ltd., which controls record royalties) and the major music labels which recently released the altered masters (i.e., Sony and Epic).

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