Personalities | Jake E. Lee | Ozzy to Badlands to Legend | Guitar Heroes

Jakey Lou Williams (b. 1957) was born in Norfolk, Virginia. His father was a member of the US Navy, which meant frequent relocation. Finally, however, the Williams family settled down in San Diego, California, where Jake began taking classical piano lessons. But, upon hearing his older sister’s Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath records, he soon turned to the guitar.

During high school, Jake formed a band called Teaser, with whom he would dominate the San Diego club scene. He next joined Stephen Pearcy’s band Mickey Rat, which moved to Los Angeles and changed its name to Ratt. After developing a huge following on the LA scene, Lee decided to leave the band. After a few gigs with Rough Cutt and abbreviated writing sessions with the great metal singer Ronnie James Dio, singer Ozzy Osbourne asked him to audition for the lead guitarist spot made available by the tragic death of Randy Rhoads. Brimming with confidence, Lee gave it a shot and was chosen from 500 other guitarists to stand at Ozzy’s side onstage and in the studio for the next four years.

Lee’s first record with Ozzy was 1983’s Bark At The Moon. Knowing his worthiness to fit Rhoads’ sizeable shoes would be questioned, Lee ensured that his playing shone bright on the record, particularly on the title track. The Ultimate Sin (1986) followed and, anchored by the MTV video hit ‘Shot In The Dark’, peaked at No. 1 on the album charts. Despite the album’s success, Osbourne was in the midst of a drug and alcohol funk, and, in one of his frequent rages, he fired Lee.

Lee hooked up with ex-Black Sabbath singer Ray Gillen in 1989 to form the blues-metal outfit Badlands. Their self-titled debut received critical acclaim but weak public support. Their follow-up, Voodoo Highway (1991), again earned critical raves. Since Badlands, Lee has been invited to play on several compilation and tribute albums. He has also released solo albums A Fine Pink Mist (1996), Retraced (2005), Guitar Warrior (2007) and Running With The Devil (2008). His new band, Red Dragon Cartel, released their eponymous debut album in January 2014.

Essential Recordings

Ozzy Osbourne: Bark At The Moon

Badlands: Voodoo Highway

Solo: A Fine Pink Mist

Red Dragon Cartel: Red Dragon Cartel

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