BACK TO BASS-ICS: A Biography of "BOB DAISLEY"
by Todd Seely
For more than thirty years now, bassist Bob Daisley has been laying down the foundation upon which some of the greatest rock and roll ever recorded has been built. From blues and metal to ballads and progressive rock, Bob has done it all with the biggest names in the music business. As an in-demand session player, his talents have taken him all over the world. But it wasn't always that way. Everyone starts out somewhere, and for Bob Daisley that was Sydney, Australia.
Born on February 13th, 1950, Robert "Bob" Daisley was the rebellious sort, once kicked out of school for refusing to cut his hair. He first picked up the bass guitar in 1964, at the ripe old age of fourteen. He devoured a steady diet of classic Motown and R&B, honing his playing all the while. By the time he was twenty in 1970, he had recorded Wide Open with Kahvas Jute for Akarma Records. Realizing that he would not likely find his fame and fortune "Down Under", he packed up and moved across the water to London, England.
To make ends meet at first, Bob ended up cleaning apartments and working in a restaurant. But by 1972 he had gotten a gig in guitarist Stan Webb's band Chicken Shack, replacing the departing John Glascock (who would later resurface in Jethro Tull). With Webb and drummer Paul Hancox, Daisley recorded the album Unlucky Boy, released that year on Deram Records. Chicken Shack disbanded following a disastrous German tour, after which Daisley joined good-time band Mungo Jerry in 1973. Bob appeared, along with band leader guitarist Ray Dorset, on the band's 1973 hit single "Alright Alright Alright". 1974 saw the band release the album Long Legged Woman Dressed In Black. When he got another call from Stan Webb later in 1974, Bob rejoined what was now called the Stan Webb Band. The band also featured future Robert Plant guitarist Robbie Blunt. This lineup lasted into the following year, by then called Broken Glass; but change was coming.
1975 brought Bob Daisley a new opportunity in the form of Widowmaker, a band formed with vocalist Steve Ellis, original Hawkwind guitarist Huw Lloyd Langton, Paul Nicholls of Lindisfarne and former Mott The Hoople/Spooky Tooth guitarist Luther Grosvenor, by now calling himself Ariel Bender. The band recorded one album, Widowmaker, for Jet Records before Ellis quit in 1976. A second album, Too Late To Cry, featuring new vocalist John Butler, was released on Jet in the spring of 1977. Due in part to the band's growing apathy, and due in part to the popularity of the emerging punk scene, the album didn't perform well and the group split in the summer of 1977. This momentarily clouded the horizon, but to every cloud there is a silver lining. Or a Rainbow.
In July of 1977, Ritchie Blackmore invited Daisley and keyboard player David Stone to join Rainbow. The band, also featuring drummer Cozy Powell and vocalist Ronnie James Dio, had been without a suitable bassist for the better part of the year, and Blackmore was anxious to get the ball rolling again. A planned September tour of the UK was postponed until November, while the new lineup ran through its paces on an October tour which encompassed most of Europe and all of Scandinavia. They played largely the same set as on the previous Rainbow tour, with the exception of the song "Stargazer", which was replaced with "Long Live Rock N Roll" from the forthcoming album of the same name. The band completed recording in Paris in December. Much of 1978 was spent touring in support of the Long Live Rock N Roll record, the band making stops in Japan before concentrating its efforts on the US. The album climbed the UK charts to #7, while cracking Billboard's top 100 at #89 in the US. Meanwhile, the songs "Long Live Rock N Roll" and "LA Connection" ended up being top 40 singles in the UK. Upon completion of the tour in November, Blackmore's dissatisfaction with Rainbow's progress had grown, resulting in him sacking all but drummer Cozy Powell. This lineup had been considered by many to be the classic version of Rainbow.
The following year saw Bob Daisley biding his time until a chance meeting with Ozzy Osbourne in late 1979. Ozzy was at a club in London called the Music Machine when he ran into Daisley. A conversation that started with Bob being regaled with tales of the incredible guitar prodigy Randy Rhoads ended with Bob accepting Ozzy's offer to join the new band, christened the Blizzard Of Ozz. Rounding out the band was ex-Uriah Heep powerhouse drummer Lee Kerslake. Don Airey, who had worked with Ozzy as a session man for Black Sabbath's Never Say Die album, did so again as the Blizzard Of Ozz began recording their debut album. Although they had no idea at the time, the four were about to unleash the first of what would become a landmark pair of the most revered hard rock and roll albums of all time. Blizzard Of Ozz was released in the summer of 1980 on Jet Records. Two singles, "Crazy Train" and "Mr. Crowley", charted in the UK at #49 and #46, respectively. The group undertook a UK tour in September 1980, and the album went to UK #7. Across the Atlantic in the US, Blizzard Of Ozz entered the charts, where it stayed for the next two years, charting at #21 and going platinum in the process. Striking while the iron was hot, the group immediately returned to the studio to record the follow-up, Diary Of A Madman. A US tour was planned, but unfortunately Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake were not to see it through. Long before the first US date, the two were fired. To add insult to injury, when Diary Of A Madman was released in the winter of 1981 Bob and Lee were not credited. Their recordings were on the LP, but pictures in the sleeve insert showed drummer Tommy Aldridge and bassist Rudy Sarzo. This led many fans to believe, mistakenly, that Tommy and Rudy had recorded the album with Ozzy. This has been a point of confusion and contention for years since. The album reached UK #14 and US #16, and turned out to be the band's second consecutive platinum album.
Following their unceremonious departure from Ozzy's band, Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake reappeared in Lee's old stomping grounds, Uriah Heep, in the spring of 1981. They immediately got down to the business of recording the album Abominog, with a lineup that included original guitarist Mick Box, ex-Trapeze vocalist Peter Goalby and keyboard player John Sinclair (remember that name - we'll come back to this gentleman later). The album, released by Polygram in 1982, featured the single "That's The Way That It Is", and while hailed as an intelligently heavy affair, critical acclaim did little to move units in the States. The band followed up with Head First, again on Polygram, in 1983. But they were preaching to the choir, so to speak. The faithful fans bought the album, but the band didn't make any new inroads. So when there was an offer to rejoin Ozzy's band in April 1983, Daisley took it.
The first gig he played after rejoining Ozzy was at the US Festival on May 29th, 1983. The festival was a three-day event underwritten by computer entrepreneur Steve Wozniak, and attracting upwards of 725,000 people to see such bands as Ozzy, Van Halen, Motley Crue and Scorpions. It was then time to regroup, refocus and get back into the studio for the first time in over two and a half years to record the next Ozzy Osbourne record. Ozzy had seen his share of legal squabbles and tragedy since Daisley had last been in the band, most notably the severing of ties with his former record label and the heartbreaking loss of guitarist Randy Rhoads in a freak plane crash. The band now consisted of guitarist Jake E Lee, drummer Tommy Aldridge and keyboard player Don Airey. Ozzy produced the new record with Daisley and Max Norman, for Sony Records. A great deal of the fall of 1983 was spent recording Bark At The Moon, and the album was finished in October. Not satisfied with the drumming, Ozzy fired Tommy Aldridge. Carmine Appice replaced him; the band rehearsed and hit the road. The European tour was first, but tension between Appice and Ozzy meant that Aldridge was back behind the drums by the time the US tour rolled into town. The singles "Bark At The Moon" and "So Tired" reached UK #21 and UK #20, respectively, while the album reached UK #24 and US #19. Japanese magazine Burrn charted "So Tired" at #2. American video channel MTV even aired a date from the 1984 tour, live from the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah. Following the tour Aldridge and Daisley left the group, Daisley continuing in a studio-only capacity. He and guitarist Jake E Lee set about to writing the next album, The Ultimate Sin.
Having contributed to the 10 Records album Victims Of The Future by Gary Moore in 1984, Bob signed on for the winter European tour. The band visited Ireland, the first time Gary had played there for a decade. The trip was filmed for a documentary, Emerald Isles. Bob also contributed bass to one track on Gary's 1985 studio album, Run For Cover, the song "Once In A Lifetime". That track hit #1 on British magazine Kerrang's Local Chart, as submitted by US radio station WHOT. While not on tour, and between Gary Moore projects, Daisley did some session work for Black Sabbath, appearing on their 1987 Warner Bros. album Eternal Idol. Daisley's loyalty to Gary Moore precluded any further activity with Sabbath.
With Gary Moore ready to get back to business in 1987, the band reunited to record the acclaimed Wild Frontier record. The album showcased an Irish influence, surely more prevalent due to the impact the previous tour's return to Ireland had upon Gary. There were several singles released including "Wild Frontier", "Over The Hills And Far Away" and "The Loner". "Over The Hills And Far Away "garnered regular video rotation in Europe and the States, while "The Loner" charted in the UK top 10, and the album charted in the top 50. Rounding out the band were drummer Eric Singer (who had also played on Sabbath's Eternal Idol) and keyboard player Neil Carter of UFO. They began an extensive European tour, during which the concert video Wild Frontier Tour, was recorded live in Stockholm. As evidenced on that performance, the band had never been better.
By the time Ozzy was ready to record with new guitarist Zakk Wylde and drummer Randy Castillo, he still had not found a permanent bass player. As he had done on the previous four albums, Bob contributed the lion's share of the lyrics and laid down bass tracks for 1988's Sony release, No Rest For The Wicked. Charting as high as UK #23 and US #13, the album marked a heavier direction for Ozzy, and was in fact one of the heaviest projects Bob had played on to date. Former Uriah Heep band mate John Sinclair supplied keyboards, as he would again on the next Ozzy album. A chance to really exercise his fingers came in the form of a call from Yngwie Malmsteen, who hired Daisley to play on his Odyssey record. The album broke the British top 10, according to Kerrang's album chart, while "Heaven Tonight" turned out to be a top 20 single. Although he played on only four songs, the session was significant in that Bob Daisley came into contact with another refugee from Rainbow, vocalist Joe Lynn Turner. The two would cross paths again, just a few years down the road.
A slight reorganization in the Moore camp resulted in Daisley's former Rainbow band mate Cozy Powell taking over for Singer on the 1988 follow-up album After The War, on Virgin Records. The album still retained much of the Irish flavor of its predecessor on songs like "Dunluce" and the epic "Blood Of Emeralds". Ozzy even made an appearance on two songs, "Led Clones" and "Speak For Yourself". The tour lasted into 1989, with Chris Slade taking over for Powell on the road.
1990 brought change on several fronts. For the first time in over a decade, Ozzy found himself in a recording studio with a former Black Sabbath band mate. The occasion was the recording of drummer Bill Ward's first solo album, Ward One: Along The Way. The album featured something of an all-star cast of players including Jack Bruce, Ozzy Osbourne, Zakk Wylde, Lanny Cordola and of course Bob Daisley, among others. Bob contributed bass to two tracks, both of which featured Ozzy on vocals - "Bombers (Can Open Bomb Bays)" and "Jack's Land".
By that same year, Gary Moore had come to the conclusion that he was simply repeating himself on every album, and that it was time for a change of direction. Having always been a devotee of blues guitarist Peter Green, Gary began recording what would become his biggest selling album to date, Charisma/Virgin Records release Still Got The Blues. It featured Gary blazing through a dozen blues cuts, reining the band in for a slow burn every few tracks, before striding out like a champ at album's end. Critics and audiences alike loved the album. Lead single "Still Got The Blues" charted in the top 30, as did follow-up "Too Tired". Joining Bob on several of the cuts were ex-Thin Lizzy drummer Brian Downey, former Ozzy & Rainbow keyboard player Don Airey, and special guest George Harrison. Daisley did not tour with Gary this time.
When 1991 rolled around, Ozzy still had not come up with a permanent bassist. His former Sabbath sidekick Geezer Butler had toured with him on the previous tour, but had not committed to being a full-time member of the band. Once again, Bob Daisley got the call. Once again, he rose to the occasion. The Sony/Epic album No More Tears was released to brisk sales and universal acclaim. Along with Daisley, it featured the same band as on the previous album. Thanks to heavy MTV rotation, the video for "No More Tears" gave Ozzy his greatest exposure yet. This was reflected in platinum sales; album and single alike floated easily into the top 10.
Gary Moore's 1992 album After Hours, once again on Charisma/Virgin, featured his old friend Bob Daisley on bass, along with keyboard player Tommy Eyre. The sound of the album was more relaxed, with touches of soul, and featured as special guests the legendary B.B. King and "The Iceman" Albert Collins. The album was met with critical acclaim, like its predecessor, and several singles charted. Again, Daisley didn't tour.
Also in 1992, guitarist Jeff Watson of Night Ranger contacted Bob. He was asked to lay down some parts for Jeff's debut solo album, Lone Ranger. This collaboration was the beginning of a lengthy association, as the two would unite again the following year for 1993's debut album by Mother's Army. Mother's Army featured Daisley, Watson, drummer Carmine Appice and vocalist Joe Lynn Turner, together in a group with a unique camaraderie. There can be little doubt that rock fans did a double-take upon seeing the album. The band was a 'who's who' of classic hard rock, and their music reflected their pedigree.
In 1995, melodic rock group Takara was working on its second album. To complete the necessary bass tracks on several songs, vocalist Jeff Scott Soto and guitarist Neal Grusky contacted Daisley, who lent a hand. The Taste Of Heaven album went on to become a hit with melodic rock fans around the world. Unfortunately, Takara was not yet a touring entity, and there were no opportunities to perform any of the material. That same year Bob appeared on the Jimi Hendrix tribute album In From The Storm, recording with guitarist Steve Vai, former Bad Co./Firm vocalist Paul Rodgers and the late drummer Tony Williams. The session was overseen by none other than Hendrix' producer Eddie Kramer.
Mother's Army returned in 1997 with a new album, Planet Earth. As Jeff Watson stated in numerous interviews, the material that he and Daisley were writing with Mother's Army was more socially aware, often touching on issues that dealt with quality of life and the environment. These themes would be revisited on the third Mother's Army release, Fire On The Moon, which was released in 1998. By then, the group had also welcomed veteran drummer Aynsley Dunbar into the fold, in place of drummer Carmine Appice.
As well, 1998 saw Daisley hooking back up with Takara to record sessions for their third album, entitled Blind In Paradise. This would be the last album to feature vocalist Jeff Scott Soto before the band reshuffled itself, with only Neal Grusky remaining on future projects. The other major undertaking of 1998 was Bob's effort in the band Stream. The band saw Daisley reuniting with former Gary Moore band mate Eric Singer (by now formerly of Kiss) and ex-Giuffria vocalist David Glen Eisley. The three recorded the album Nothing Is Sacred with a relative unknown, guitarist Peter Scheithauer. Drawing comparisons to Kiss' Carnival Of Souls, the album was decidedly heavy metal.
Bob Daisley moved back to Sydney, Australia a short while ago. Since settling back "home", he has been stirring up the Australian music scene. The Hoochie Coochie Men's 2001 debut album - Daisley's first release of the new millennium - brought Bob around full circle, as he once again found himself working with former Kahvas Jute band mate, guitarist Tim Gaze, as well as drummer Rob Grosser and harmonica player Jim Conway. The album was a bluesy affair, one that mixed the band's new compositions with a handful of genre classics. The album was hailed as a triumph, and the band was lauded by both rock and blues enthusiasts. In February of 2003, The Hoochie Coochie Men were able to parlay an unfortunate turn of events into not one, but two, significant opportunities. It seems that former Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord had just begun a promotional tour of Australia, when a recurring hand injury sidelined plans for the remaining classical performances on the itinerary. Lord contacted Daisley, and the two conspired to make the most of a bad situation. They hired Sydney music venue The Basement, and after a cursory rehearsal or two, Jon Lord w/ The Hoochie Coochie Men treated a packed house to the show of a lifetime. Aussie music legend Jimmy Barnes was also invited to sit in. This unusual, exhilarating union was captured on film and released worldwide on CD and DVD later that same year.
While Barnes' appearance with Hoochie Coochie Men not only put the icing on the cake, as it were, it also opened the door for another, more significant collaboration. In July of 2003 Daisley and Barnes convened in Florida to record a new studio album as Living Loud, a group fleshed out with Deep Purple guitarist Steve Morse, Uriah Heep drummer Lee Kerslake and Purple keyboardist Don Airey, the latter both old mates of Bob's from the Ozzy Osbourne daze (pun intended). The project realized Bob's long-held dream of re-imagining songs from the classic 'Blizzard of Ozz' and 'Diary of a Madman' albums. While that may be a dodgy proposition to some purists, the recordings revitalized the old songs, while remaining respectful of the originals. The album was well-received upon its initial release in 2004.
When it rains, it pours - 2004 also heralded the return of Bob Daisley to Gary Moore's band for the 'Power of the Blues' album. Recorded in November, 2003, the album featured nearly a dozen hard-hitting blues tracks. The pair's reunion, and the subsequent tour in the summer of 2004, was to be prematurely curtailed, due to a hand injury sustained by Gary. Around this time Karl Cochran's 'Voodooland' album was released, featuring Daisley and his former Mother's Army band mate Joe Lynn Turner.
2005 saw Bob juggling several projects. Bob, fellow Hoochie Coochie Men band mate Tim Gaze and guitarist/vocalist Dennis Wilson resurrected their old band Kahvas Jute in July, 2005 for a special performance at "The Basement" in Sydney, with an eye toward releasing the gig as part of a double pack comprised of the band's re-mastered 1971 debut album "Wide Open" plus CD and DVD versions of the reunion show. The incredible "Wide Open" album having stood the test of time was a separate re-release, re-mastered with bonus tracks. Daisley also fostered distribution of the "Living Loud" debut CD across the United States in January of 2006, to coincide with the DVD release of the band's 2004 debut live concert at Sydney Fox Studios in Australia. January was a bittersweet month, however; the release of Bob's latest successful venture was tempered by the loss of a man instrumental to much of Bob's early success, Clive Coulson! Coulson, who was an early band mate of Bob's in the Aussie band Mecca in the 60's, helped Bob get a leg up in London. Clive, who was Led Zeppelin's sound man introduce'd Bob to Stan Webb of Chicken Shack, effectively kick starting Daisley's career in the early 70's British Blues / rock scene.
In July 2006 Bob Daisley joined Jon Lord in London's "Olympic" recording studio, to begin work on the follow-up album by the Hoochie Coochie Men. Featuring a c ircle of friends including fellow Living Loud band mate Jimmy Barnes and Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan, the resulting album is a rocking, thoughtfully-arranged blues affair. Gillan, Lord and Daisley of course all share a common bond in Ritchie Blackmore; Daisley and Blackmore's late 70's work in Rainbow was revisited in August 2006 when Eagle Rock Entertainment released 'Rainbow: Live in Munich 1977' on DVD, along with a companion double-CD release. Both releases were a captivating look back at arguably the best lineup Rainbow ever had, performing at the height of its powers just prior to the release of the classic 'Long Live Rock N Roll' album. Bob crossed paths, musically speaking, with former Yngwie Malmsteen band mate Anders Johansson when he contributed to the writing and performance of a couple of songs on the Planet Alliance project. Later in the year, Bob was one of numerous special guests, including Jeff Scott Soto and Tyketto's Danny Vaughn, asked to contribute to a new recording by Spanish guitar great Jorge Salan. Recorded in September of 2006, "Chase the Fire" and its parent album, 'Chronicles of an Evolution', were released in February 2007. Bob's latest session work for a variety of forward-thinking artists, along with his own new album projects, which build on the bedrock of blues and rock he's known for, are perfect bookends to illustrate the diversity that has put Bob at the top of his game, and made him an influence to countless musicians coming up behind him (watch out if they've got KY jelly, Bob jokes! ha!).
Bob Daisley continues to inspire as both a songwriter and musician. He knows how to push the envelope and, as in the case of his most recent success, when to go back to the basics.