Take Good Care Of You - Various - Sales Conference Vol. 1 1979 (Vinyl, LP)
The bug had bitten him, but which bug? The bug to become a writer, or the bug for fame? I doubt he ever asked himself why he wanted to pursue this project. Did it mean anything more to him other than fulfilling a latent desire to become a celebrity?
Ask yourself why you want to write. I used to jump out of airplanes. Have you ever jumped out of an airplane? How old are you, anyway?
Few arguments get me as riled up as this particular one. The person who discounted my life experience is guilty of a fallacy in thinking that only big experiences, like jumping out of airplanes, constitute worthwhile experiences for a fiction writer.
What about all those years of my life that preceded that moment in the bar? My mother grew up a sharecropper in the South and told me dozens of fascinating, bizarre, and gripping stories about her life.
And what of my own experiences? Are these not experiences? Are these not worthy subjects to write about? Why do I need to jump out of a plane in order to qualify as a fiction writer? For my money, emotional experience is more important than wrestling an alligator with your bare hands.
Ballard, published in The Guardian and written by John Crace: To generalise wildly, the career path of most young successful writers goes something like this. Go to university—preferably Oxford or Cambridge—and read English. While there, start writing novel and get a few pieces published in the university magazine. Move to London after graduation, start a creative writing T h e D e c i s i o n t o Become a Wri t e r 11 postgraduate degree and pick up some work reviewing books for the literary supplements while tidying up the fourth draft of your novel.
But someone, somewhere offers you a contract to write a second novel and your career is up and running. From then on you have a meta life. You write because you write, not because you necessarily have anything interesting to say. All of this strikes me as another kind of snobbery. I was just too damned tired. How does the experience argument apply to writers of historical fiction? Or what about writers who choose to write from the perspective of a race or gender other than their own?
Baloney, I say. Fiction writing is a balancing act of many things: empathy, technical proficiency, artistic sensibility everyone has a story to tell, but knowing how to tell it is where the art of storytelling comes into playinsight into human behavior, and, yes, experience. But experience is only one part of the equation. And the ways in which experience translates into fiction are as diverse as all the people on this bizarre little planet who put pen to paper.
Is there a common denominator for writers who eventually have careers as writers? For every great book, there are many more mediocre books and even more downright bad ones. Plenty of writers out there, myself included, have worked their way up, struggling each step, without the benefit of connections. What many struggling writers fail to realize is that serendipity, luck, and chance are strong forces in the publishing world.
The right agent needs to send the right manuscript to the right editor at the right time. And how in the world can someone plan for that? As far as I can tell, the decisive factor is durability. For the gifted writer, durability seems to be directly connected to how one deals with uncertainty, rejection, and disappointment, from within as well as from without, and how effectively one incorporates them into the creative process itself, particularly in the prolonged first stages of a career.
Perseverance or durability is a significant factor in a writing career. To give yourself the best chance, you have to work, and work hard.
Come up with a schedule and stick to it. It took me ten years before 13 writing became a daily habit, but once it did, three things happened: My writing became stronger, I started publishing short stories more frequently, and I began publishing books. When I was in my twenties and enrolled in an MFA program, I met talented writers on whose careers I would have bet the bank. And you know what? I would have been dead wrong either way.
Perseverance is a hell of a lot harder than it sounds. And what about Books 2 and 3? What if they also get rejected? At what point do you cave in and say, Enough! Do you write Book 5? Book 1 not only sells but becomes a bestseller. What do you think your publisher is going to say? What do you do? Do you return to what worked so well the first time, or do you follow your heart and write what you want to write?
Or, do you take the next ten years to write Book 3, maybe never completing it? I doubt anyone reading this book is weeping for the bestselling writer, but my point is that perseverance never ceases to be hard. What makes a person persevere? Where does drive come from?
Vindication would be, I soon realized, the recurring theme of our conversations that semester. Boyle liked me in part, I suspect, because he looked at my experiences at Iowa and saw a reflection of his own.
According to Boyle, he, too, had been left out of the funding pool at Iowa, as I had been. And maybe this was the best thing that could have happened to him.
As a student, he began publishing in places most writers only dream about—the Atlantic, Esquire, the Paris Review. Boyle shook his head, smiling. You could see it in his eyes: the sweetness of vindication. But there was more to that semester than just talk of vindication. There was the sound of Boyle typing; he was always typing. The typewriter had been a gift from his mother, and whenever I stopped by his office, I would pause before knocking so that I could listen to those keys clacking, the bell ringing, the carriage return slamming.
I want to say that it all now seems like a scene from another century, but it was another century. Over twenty years ago. A lifetime.
Do I ever use vindication to fuel my writing? Sometimes, yeah. And what about Boyle? By my calculations, as of today, fourteen.
So you tell me. They are the real troopers. These are the writers whose books you should keep stacked next to you each time you sit down at that keyboard, which, I hope, is every day.
If you do, then you have what it takes. Their manuscript is full of misspellings. But the ones who worry me are the ones who seem more interested in the idea of becoming a writer rather than the reality of becoming a writer.
If this book does nothing else, I hope it narrows that gap between the idea and the reality. And, yes, they love sentences. The students for whom I hold out the most hope are not only the ones who keep finding things to talk about with this sentence but also those whose eyes light up during the conversation.
Here, after all, is a sentence that has a life of its own. So, you want to know if you have what it takes to be a writer? Tell me. Do you like sentences? There are those lucky few whose writing careers follow a trajectory that is both ideal and enviable. Agents begin contacting the author, not the other way around; the story or poem gets chosen for the Best American series. The first time she enters the job market, she bags a cushy teaching appointment in the region of her choice.
Was there a time when I thought this would be the arc of my career? Most likely, it was when I was an undergraduate and still smoking too much dope. Even as I wrote each short story with the hope that the Atlantic would snap it up, I was sending work to magazines with names like the Old Sad Horse Review and getting rejections.
Initially, I always set the bar high, but I was also willing to adjust it accordingly once the rejections piled up. I should note that I was rejected by two of the four schools to which I applied. Anyway, at Iowa I first met writers who truly believed that there was an arc that their career paths should follow.
This struck me as utter lunacy. What if the New Yorker never took anything by him? Meanwhile, my classmate Chris Offutt—who has certainly made a name for himself—published his first short story in the Coe Review, a tiny magazine in Cedar Rapids. At the age of 32 I finally became a father and an author.
Yes, the New Yorker is the Holy Grail. Nor is it the only magazine to launch your career. Those are wishes. Those are desires. The odds are overwhelmingly against you. The ultimate goal should be to get your book published. And not by just Knopf or Random House, either.
But I guarantee you, there is also a lot of disappointment. Oprah never mentioned my books on her show. As of this moment, I have never had a book reviewed in the New York Times. And yet, I have a writing career. And not a bad one. Or, rather, it could be charted, but it would look like rugged terrain rather than a smooth, unencumbered ascent to an idyllic summit. The only consistency in my career is that there has been no consistency.
If I had my druthers, my bio would look more like this: John McNally has published three novels and two story collections. He has written another five books, one of which he spent five years writing, that have never been published. His short stories have received far more rejections than acceptances, and most of the stories from his first five years of writing never found a home.
He has had five different agents. He is an associate professor at Wake Forest University, but only after years and years of shitty adjunct work for which he was paid an unlivable wage.
With a garden hose as his only water source, a hot plate, and a bungee cord holding the door shut, he began work on what would eventually become his first published novel, but he assures everyone that there was nothing romantic about this experience. He gained T h e D e c i s i o n t o Become a Wri t e r 21 twenty pounds from lack of exercise, drank too much, and watched more bad morning TV than he ever imagined possible.
He is presently hard at work on a novel for which he is not under contract and has no guarantee of publication. Everything in the above bio is true, just as everything in my public bio is true.
Let me repeat: The prescribed track for the creative writer is a myth. Oh, sure, some writer somewhere has gone from point A to point B to point C without a hitch, but she is the anomaly. For every up in my career, there has been a down. One of them I wrote after the publication of Troublemakers, my first published book. Why, you may be wondering, do I keep writing with so little certainty and so much rejection? Students taking their first creative writing courses are often resistant to learning craft.
Because it demystifies their favorite short stories and novels, and it makes the writing process less mysterious. In other words, it takes all the fun out of it for them. I hate to admit this, but I felt this way when I signed up for my first creative writing course. After all, I had been dashing off short stories and poems for years, and all of my grade school and high school teachers had patted me on the back and told me how creative I was.
As it turned out, my professor was Rodney Jones, who was on the brink of being a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and a few years away from winning the National Book Critics Circle Award. Most of us have to work on our craft for many years before we hit our stride. What do I mean by craft? I mean characterization.
I mean language. I mean a few dozen other things. But what I mean most of all are two things: being in control of your craft and making it second nature.
If I wanted the reader to feel cold toward what was happening, I could move out; if I wanted the reader to feel what the narrator was feeling, I could move deep inside. Gardner points out how the sloppy writer has no control of psychic distance. Students resist learning craft because, they believe, it makes the act of writing too mechanical for them.
The writing is mechanical at first, but eventually it should become second nature. Making it second nature is the trick—and, yes, the difficulty. You hear about genius chess players who are three years old.
Why is that? Which brings me to my final point. The students of mine who are English majors, steeped in theory, have a tendency to begin their stories with abstract ideas rather than concrete situations and vivid characters.
As a result, there is rarely a beating heart anywhere in these stories. If you want to be a fiction writer, you need to start reading like a fiction writer. This debate is as old as the hills. His question was meant to disarm me. I was supposed to raise my arms and surrender. I wanted to ask. Play the bongos?
Sit in a circle, hold hands, and hum until inspiration strikes? Some creative writing professors dispute the ability to teach creative writing.
These things, when I accomplish them, are the result of years of hard work on my part, and I failed more often than I succeeded during my first ten years of writing. But was I born with these gifts? I was born with a sensibility that creeps into my work; I had certain passions for narrative early on; I had an aptitude to learn.
In every profession, there are always going to be those whose work becomes transcendent, whose work will, with luck, endure. She tended to use phonetic spellings in her early work to replicate dialect; later on, she manipulated syntax instead, which is a good example of how a sophisticated understanding of craft can vastly improve a story. Like the math professor, there are certain things that I can teach. I learned something useful from each of my writing professors, all of whom were successful writers themselves.
Allan Gurganus, whose mentor was John Cheever, took great pains to show us how our stories could be more immediate. Madison Smartt Bell was interested in story structure the semester I took his class. From all of my teachers, I learned the importance of writing every day. But I can teach craft, and I can lead by example. The rest is up to them—or, more likely, to the Gods of Luck, who are often cruel but sometimes generous.
Where do you meet these folks? They were, in many ways, an ad hoc MFA program, without the university affiliation, of course. Sigrid Nunez had Susan Sontag. Melville had Hawthorne. Plato had Socrates. In my office at home, on the wall to the right of my desk, hang three diplomas. But to the left of those diplomas hangs an original lobby card for the movie Bonzo Goes to College.
In the lobby card, a chimpanzee carrying a football is dressed in a football uniform, including shoes with cleats and a helmet. He is clearly pleased. The Bonzo lobby card stays next to my diplomas in order for me to keep some perspective. I beg of you. Stop embarrassing yourself. There are now more than two hundred graduate programs in creative writing and more than four hundred undergraduate programs that offer creative writing options. For some universities, creative writing has become a cash cow.
We could debate the ethics of this day and night, just as we could debate the ethics of English Departments continuing to accept PhD students when the odds of getting a job are ridiculously slim, but the fact remains: Creative writing programs are here to stay.
The same degree offered at two different universities may vary dramatically. I recommend other reference sources at the end of this book. Undergraduate Degrees BA in English with a Creative Writing Concentration Back when I was an undergraduate at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, I majored in English with a creative writing concentration, which meant, essentially, that I took the core English Department requirements while also taking a prescribed number of creative writing courses.
Some English degrees offer concentrations in creative writing, as mine did, while others offer a creative writing track within the English major.
Or they may call it something else altogether. The requirements vary from university to university, but the basic idea behind these programs is the same: The student walks away with a core English degree, topped off with a required number of creative writing courses.
It was a rigorous degree. Before I attended SIU, John Gardner—a writer who may now be more famous for being a great creative writing teacher than for his own novels, which include Grendel and The Sunlight Dialogues—taught in the department for a number of years.
A student in a creative writing degree program would most likely take more creative writing courses than she would in a degree program in which creative writing is a subset, concentration, or track. There, the creative writing student must take seven creative writing courses and five courses from the English Department.
The BA in English at Salem College requires twelve courses in English, a certain number of which can be creative writing courses. What are the perks of a creative writing degree over an English degree? At Salem, some of the creative writing courses are not offered to regular English majors.
One called a capstone course requires each student to give a teaching demonstration, write a book review, research and give presentations on graduate schools in creative writing, write a statement of purpose which is then presented to the class as a whole for feedbackand assemble a portfolio of her best creative work also presented to the class for feedback.
There are also annual monetary awards specific to creative writing majors. At the end of the year, the program sponsors a public reading dedicated to the work of the creative writing students. Interestingly, poetry writing is still taught as part of the English Department at Columbia College Chicago. You may be wondering why degree programs in creative writing exist.
One solution to these problems is for the creative writing faculty members, who are often treated like parasites, to break away from their host or, as I prefer to imagine it, burst from the chest of an English professor, like the famous scene in Alien and form their own major with its own curriculum and standards. Creative writers are certainly not immune to causing problems, and the resident poet or fiction writer who acts like a superstar may exacerbate tensions.
In these cases, English Departments are probably happy for any official division that permanently separates the two camps. And so the dilemma for the student who already knows that creative writing is what he wants to pursue is this: be part of an English major which may marginalize the very thing he wants to study, or study the thing he wants to study while bracing himself to be potentially marginalized afterward?
What does that mean for the student? Creative writing faculty will sometimes find a more sympathetic audience within fine arts, which could lead to more flexibility with the curriculum, possibly even more funding. In the College of Liberal Arts, creative writers are often fighting turf wars with English professors, who may think that the writers are sucking students away from their major, thereby putting their survival in peril.
Have I mentioned yet how high the level of melodrama can be within universities? As more and more liberal arts colleges drop humanities requirements—a disturbing trend, I should note, that appears to be gaining momentum—the BFA may be an appealing option. In addition to requiring nine hours of Humanities courses, the major requires the student to take nine hours of Fine Arts courses outside the major. The MA is tradi E d uc at i o n an d t h e Wri t e r 37 tionally a more academic degree program, requiring more literature courses and fewer creative writing courses, but in the past ten years even this has changed.
Probably more than any other degree, MA programs are wildly inconsistent from university to university. Does the program require a creative thesis, a scholarly thesis, or both? How many creative writing classes will you be allowed to take? On the one hand, the Associated Writing Programs, which represents the interests of writers in academia, still acknowledges the MFA as the terminal degree in creative writing. There are many good reasons why a creative writer might enter an MA program.
In some cases, the student enters an MA program to fill in the gaps of his knowledge of a particular period of literature. Or, if he has de 38 E d u c ati o n a n d t h e W r it e r cided to stay in a given geographic region, the universities near him may not offer an MFA, in which case an MA program that offers the option of a creative thesis makes good sense.
I applied to both MA and MFA programs, but after lucking out and getting accepted into my school of choice, the MA seemed a moot point. My habits were bad. How so? I drank so much I was arrested one night for public intoxication. I wrote regularly but not nearly as much as I should have. I spent a good part of my day perfecting my pool playing. I lost too much money playing poker. Despite this, those two years are among the most important of my life. I was surrounded by writers, some of whom were screwing up worse than I was, some of whom were working so hard they landed book deals by the end of their two years.
I stood next to Kurt Vonnegut outside the library after a reading and listened to him answer questions from his fans; I talked to John Edgar Wideman after he danced at a house party; I had a meeting with Ann Beattie, while she was in town to give a reading, to discuss one of my own short stories.
What else? Kinsella, who had returned to Iowa to watch the filming of Field of Dreams, based on his novel Shoeless Joe. Do I wish I had written more during those two years? Do I regret any of it? None of it. Most MFA programs are two years long, but there are now some three-year programs Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, for instancewhile others may take up to four years or longer University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.
It happens more often than one would like to think. Most MFA programs are designed so that the student has plenty of time to write. At Iowa, I took a workshop and two literature courses each semester of my first year. During my second year, I took only workshops and thesis hours, which provided me with even more time to write or to play pool, as the case may be.
The MFA is still the degree most associated with the academic pursuit of creative writing. For a finite stretch of time, a group of students works toward one common goal: to become better writers. Attending an MFA program is an opportunity to make it a little less solitary. If a particular program succeeds, it could become profitable for a university that might otherwise be struggling. Would you get that in a traditional program? Probably not. Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout, for starters.
New York Times bestseller Lauren Groff. The list of impressive writers on faculty goes on and on. What are the other downsides? Even though a pathological shyness kept me somewhat out of the loop when I was a student at Iowa, those two years were unlike any other two years in my life. Some people feel suffocated by it, or they get sucked into the wrong aspects of it, like the competitiveness, of which there is a lot at a place like Iowa, and they finally succumb to it.
This will vary from program to program, but I firmly believe that success has more to do with the individual than the program. I studied 42 E d u c ati o n a n d t h e W r it e r with writers whose novels and stories I admired tremendously. One small ripple may alter your life. PhD in English Really? A PhD with a creative dissertation? And guess what? I have one. You have to believe me when I tell you that I never had any intention of getting a PhD.
The way I saw it, I had two choices: work on a trawler off the coast of Alaska, or apply to PhD programs. I was dead serious about the trawler, but my father —a man who usually never interferes with my plans—wisely talked me out of it. I applied to four PhD programs, got accepted to two, and was offered money from one, so my decision was easy: I followed the money. In full disclosure, I blew off a lot of my courses when I was an undergraduate. I did well in most of my English courses, but I failed three courses my senior year of college yes: three!
What I did as an undergraduate was go to the library the day before the final. Back then, there was a room in the library with a few dozen record players, so I checked out albums for all of the plays that had been assigned.
As time began running out, I flipped the speed to the faster 45 rpm. For the final two plays, in an act of utter desperation, I turned the speed to 78 rpm. The char E d uc at i o n an d t h e Wri t e r 43 acters now all sounded like the Chipmunks. Of all writers! Well, the PhD program gave me an opportunity to undo that damage.
As a PhD student, I could take pretty much whatever I wanted, so I stocked up on Shakespeare courses and, as a result, have a greater, deeper appreciation of his work now. But, of course, there are other reasons to pursue a PhD with a creative dissertation, and chief among them is time. The University of Nebraska—Lincoln offered me six years of guaranteed funding, and although I ended up not using all six years, I wrote almost all of what would eventually become my first published book, Troublemakers, during the years I spent in residence there.
In a concerted effort not to waste any more of my time, as I did in Iowa, I also put together and sold a proposal for my first anthology, High Infidelity, to William Morrow while working on my PhD. I was able to transfer credits from my MFA, as well as some credits from my BA, which freed up even more time. Without a doubt, the PhD has given me a leg up on the job market. I was told by a fiction writer who interviewed me for my first decent visiting appointment that it was the PhD that sold the scholars on my candidacy.
This is a sad reflection of the great divide between creative writers and scholars—after all, I already had a terminal degree with my MFA, and my first book was set to come out that October— but old prejudices die hard, if at all. I also saw for the first time the uglier side of department politics. Do you have the discipline?
The talent? The stamina? The passion? These are not small factors, which is why—and I sincerely believe this—where you study is ultimately of little consequence.
I run into 44 E d u c ati o n a n d t h e W r it e r people all the time who tell me about a teacher who was so cruel that they gave up writing or of a workshop that was so awful they shut down altogether afterward. I want to ask. To those who end up in a bad program, I offer this advice. Buck up. And keep writing. In fact, write harder. College is a cakewalk compared to the world of publishing, where no one owes you anything. Before moving ahead to chapters about choosing the right graduate program and the application process, I need to weigh in on a subject that gets endless attention in the blogosphere.
Nor did it ever occur to me that all students graduating with an MFA would rise to the top of the pyramid. Remember what I said about luck, chance, and serendipity being strong forces? Only the most naive would assume that two years in an MFA program would guarantee him anything.
Many of the arguments against MFA programs ignore one basic point: No one is forcing anyone to apply! Furthermore, no writing professor ever tried to force me—or anyone else in class—to write like him or her.
You waste two years hearing people tell you how wonderful you are and then you graduate and find out that nobody wants to read your stuff. Has he ever taught in an MFA program? Not to my knowledge. Keillor that not all do. Some fine MFA programs struggle to get enough applicants each year. One example is T. Boyle, who has been E d uc at i o n an d t h e Wri t e r 47 teaching at the University of Southern California for roughly thirty years now.
Nearly all the arguments against MFA programs are born of ignorance or logical fallacies. When my car breaks down, should I denounce the existence of cars? She had her first child when she was sixteen and has worked hard her entire life.
What she wants now, more than anything, is to go to an MFA program. She wants time away from the routine of her regular life to concentrate on writing; she wants more guidance, more instruction; she wants to surround herself with others who are also immersed in writing; she wants a change of scenery.
Why go to college to study any art? Why study dance, painting, or music? You go to study the sorts of things that might elude you if you studied on your own. You go to be part of a community.
You go to immerse yourself. Even though the arguments above are sometimes at odds with the ones below, they are often made by the same people. Here are four anonymous comments left on a blog dedicated to rejections in the literary world. The Internet can help us connect the dots. And that no one else reads? It applies to stuff like the drug companies today, but it also applies very much to literature, since the overwhelming majority of literary journals are tied into higher education programs.
Yes, I was sarcastic in regard to the prevalence of MFAers in the top journals. They go from high school to 6 years of college. Then they get a teaching job. I mean, come on. Academia and the MFA culture has been discussed quite thoroughly in here.
Pick up a copy of Poetry magazine and read the contributor notes. All MFA students and their teachers, every last one. Just like the great bulk of their poetry.
It must be said, that on this particular videotape, Bill Ward the drummer relates an interesting story: While playing in New York, the audience was still at the stage where they would simply sit there and LP) to the music. Ozzy would often yell at the audience to get up and go crazy as many bootlegs can attest to.
At one particular show they were growing fed up with the audience just sitting there and Bill picked up his drum set and threw it at the audience. Can you think of any band in today's scene which does seven encores? By the time they reached Los Angeles, people had already heard about this "Black Sabbath". The single was very popular, maybe too popular: On October 23, the band attempts to play the Mayfair Ballroom in Newcastle.
The crowd is very drunk and all over the stage and equipment. The band, unsuccessful in trying to get them off the stage, starts playing their hit single Paranoid. Someone put their foot through one of their big PA speakers, Bill's drum sticks and cymbals were stolen and a bass drum mic destroyed. The audience had gone crazy over their new single and Ozzy says, "If it means us having to give up putting out singles then we will. We want people to listen to us, not try to touch us.
I was really terrified, shocked out of my mind. While walking down a street some time after the show, the band was attacked by a group of skinheads. Tony's arm was badly hurt and this forced them to cancel their next show.
Due to the fact the skinheads wore boots, they decided to make fun of the punks in the song. Ozzy has claimed that the song had nothing to do with this incident, however Ozzy also falsely claimed that there were no recordings from the Jim Simpson era. It was not uncommon for the band to be verbally abusive if the audience was not responding properly.
If they were talking, the band would just crank up the music some more. Bands were so loud during this time the Leeds City Council introduced a "96 decibel law". If any band's music was to rise above 96 decibels the amplifiers would cut out. Sabbath did not consider their night's work complete unless they hit at least three cut outs a night. The cover shows a person running out of a forest with a sword and shield in hand.
This seemed to listeners, a strange representation of being paranoid. The truth is that the album was to originally be named "War Pigs" mans constant desire to have weapons of destruction and killing. The record company objected to the album title and so it was named after one of the songs. The song "War Pigs" came about when Sabbath was told tales of horror and war from soldiers while playing an American air force base. It was during the span between the Paranoid and Master of Reality albums that Jim Simpson was fired as the band's manager.
Patrick Meehan and Wilf Pine would replace him. Ozzy also married his first wife, Thelma Riley and became a stepfather to her son, Elliot. This album would take an interesting turn with the release of "After Forever" which was clearly a religious, believe in God, song.
The church called this blasphemy. People disliked the band, perhaps for their After Forever song or perhaps for what they represented. In any event, saw some strange events: At a show in Memphis, their dressing rooms had crosses painted in blood on the walls.
During the show a Satanist jumped on stage with a sacrificial knife. The local witches coven later gathered outside the band's hotel and Geezer tried to scare them away with a fake hex.
It was also the year that threats were made that the band would be shot sometime during their US tour. At one show the lights suddenly failed into their 3rd song and Ozzy stood frozen solid with fear.
The band also included a song titled "Sweet Leaf" which openly talked about the band's usage of marijuana. The song begins with a coughing sound as if someone had just inhaled the drug. In actual fact, Tony had just finished smoking drugs in a water pipe and the sounds were included in the final version. As with the inverted cross case and the "War pigs" album title, the record company would again take authority over the bands wishes. Volume 4 hence the fourth Sabbath album was to have originally been called "Snowblind", another drug reference.
The record company thought this was too controversial and so they had to change it. The band was becoming involved in hard core drugs by this time including cocaine. During the recording of Volume 4, the band sat around in a Jacuzzi snorting coke all day and would get up every so often to record a new song.
We can see why Snowblind was an appropriate album title. Not being allowed to use it as an album title, they came up with this amusing line on the cover sleeve of the record: "Thanks to the COKE-Cola Company".
It was also during this year that Ozzy and Thelma had their first mutual child, Jessica. They made nothing, I mean nothing. Sharon on Sabbath's early management The year is now The band is living a good life of drugs, sex, cars, etc. If they wanted a car or a house they would ask for it and receive it almost the next day. Ozzy even owned a Jaguar which he smashed while backing out of his driveway, the same day he was to sell it.
What the band never saw though, was money. They became very successful especially in the UK charts. Their material possessions were provided by their new management of Patrick Meehan and Wilf Pine.
What happened was this: During the same year that Paranoid was soaring up the charts, Pat and Wilf left their management company which was Don Arden's, more on him later.
The duo offered the band a chauffeured limo, champagne dinner at the Speakeasy, and filled the Sab's heads with ideas that Jim was mismanaging them and they could do a hell of a lot better with them instead.
The Sabs agreed and on Sept. The man who had turned the four nobodies into a juggernaut was dismissed. The Sabs were also not happy that with Jim they were being paid a lot less than what they should have been getting.
The reason was that Jim insisted they perform at the shows they had already been booked for, even six months prior. These older bookings were for a lot less money than Take Good Care Of You - Various - Sales Conference Vol. 1 1979 (Vinyl usual fee, now around pounds per show. Simpson launched lawsuits against them for of breach of contract. Some concerts later, Ozzy was handed a subpoena on stage for Simpson's lawsuits.
The resulting court case would last years. California saw the Cal Jam concert take place in Ontario on April 6th. This was a televised concert to millions of viewers as well as overaudience members. It featured bands such as Electric Light Orchestra.
In the middle of the night, their management threatened the band with a LP) if they did not play the Cal Jam concert. The band had not practiced for months and was not ready for a show, especially one with overpeople in attendance. It has been said that the band did not even know they were to play the show. This would be one of the final straws for the band and they soon began the process of getting rid of their second management.
Ozzy talks a bit about this in the documentary, "The Decline of Western Civilization II" where the band questions how much money they are really making if their managers could afford houses and cars. I was sent a VHS of the entire show but it's poor quality. I forget the name of the person who sent it to me long ago but he told me his room mate had a quality copy. While others have made claims to having the entire set, it's always lip talk. This allowed them to have more control and say into what decisions were made for the band.
It would be a learning experience as well since they had never dabbled in the management aspects before. They decided a rest was in order since they were exhausted. Their next US tour would be in three short installments rather than one big tour to further save them exhaustion and nervous breakdowns. Oh yes, remember all the flashy cars and houses they were given? They were never really theirs, and when they dumped the management duo they lost everything. They still had the Warner Bros.
Another joker who's a rock and roll star for you, just for you The faithful image of another man The endless ocean of emotion I swam for you, yeah for you The shot troopers laying down on the floor I wish they'd put an end to my running war with you, yeah with you Are you metal, are you man? You've changed in life since you began, yeah began Ladies digging gold from you Will they still dig now you're through, yeah you're through You bought and sold me with your lying words The voices in the deck that you never heard came through, yeah came through Your folly finally got to spend with a gun A poisoned father who has poisoned his son, that's you, yeah that's you I beg you please don't let it get any worse The anger I once had has turned to a curse on you, Yeah curse you All of the promises that never came true You're gonna get what is coming to you, that's true, ah, that's true Are you Satan, are you man?
After hearing the song one cannot help but feel sympathy for what the band had been enduring. Some album labels Warner Bros. A sound engineer caught this during a recording session and it was put on the album. Sadly, there are a lot of other Sab cover songs which we will never get to hear. You can hear the 'Blow on the Jug' song by clicking right here!
Reporter: "Do you have a drinking problem? Don's management was the same company that their last management had parted from. Don managed Black Sabbath while his daughter, Sharon then 18 was his receptionist. Ozzy and Sharon met when Ozzy walked into his office wearing a tap faucet around his neck and sat on the floor - refusing to use a chair.
Sharon was terrified of Ozzy upon first sight. She even tried to get another woman working in the office to bring him a cup of tea, rather than bring it to him herself. The two of them would get to know one another quite well over the years as Don and the Sab four conducted business. Money and fame were no longer problems for the four of them, instead the only challenge was how to come up with another best selling album.
A very audible change in the bands musical direction began to show in their album, "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath". Despite the title, the album contains deep lyrics with many different musical arrangements. The songs seemed more uplifting and vibrant than their previous dark, gloomy sounding material and a more energetic sound.
Electronic instruments also changed the way they were able to record songs. This album, probably their best album with Ozzy as vocalist, placed 4th and 11th respectively in UK and American charts. This album was considerably less heavy then previous albums, and perhaps was due to the band just being fed up with it all.
They had succeeded in making a lot of money, owned as many cars as we own socks, and were getting burned out from constant touring. The album cover also set the stage for something entirely new from the band.
No more dark images, this artistic cover showed two robots having sex or so it has been said. Sadly, Technical Ecstasy did not sell very well. The late 's also saw some deep trouble for the band. On January 20, Ozzy's father passed away.
Here is a small portion of an interview with Ozzy regarding his father: "In England, they don't tell you, y'know. What they did to my father was, he hadn't eaten a fucking thing because of his -- whatever the fucking tube -- he had a lump here like a fucking black ball, in his sagophagus or whatever the fuck it is; he couldn't eat any food. Plus the fact that he had cancer of the fucking intestines, the bowels, so he couldn't shit. He never ate a thing for thirteen weeks. They operated on him about a fucking week before he died.
They took the whole tube out and put a plastic one in. I don't know what it's like in the states, but in England They strapped him He was stoned out of his head. You know, the most amazing thing he said to me. I told my father one day, "I take drugs. I said LP) him, "Before you go, will you take drugs?
Totally out of his mind on Morphine, because the pain must have been horrendous. They had the operation on a Tuesday, and he died on Thursday No one could understand what he was talking about, because he was so out of it.
He says to me -- he only understands drugs as "speed" -- he says, [whispers, a drawn-out, rattling imitation] "ssspeeeeed. The twentieth of January, I'll go freaking like a werewolf.
I'll cry and I'll laugh all day long, because it's the day my daughter was born and the day my father died. Like a fucking lunatic. When they go, they're out of their misery. But what freaked me out more than anything else was the funeral. I was singing fucking "Paranoid" in the church Seconal, drunk All the family came that I'd never seen for fucking years, and they were making comments. In England, it's a weird scene at a fucking death. Ozzy's father, Jack, who thought his son would either end up in prison or end up being someone very special, died knowing his son had made something out of himself.
While on his leave of absence, Ozzy asked Glenn Hughes another vocalist who would eventually spend some time in Sabbath about the two of them forming a band. Oz was fed up with Sabbath by this time, though he kept his feelings about this to himself. Glenn did not join Ozzy in his desire. Meanwhile the band had to continue work on its upcoming album, "Never Say Die". Ozzy decided he wanted to rejoin the band, but he refused to sing any of the songs written with Dave Walker.
So Dave left and the band had to rewrite all of their songs. Tony booked a studio in Toronto, Ontario because it was where the Rolling Stones had recorded one of their albums. The band traveled up there in the middle of winter to record the album.
Ozzy has since said it was a stupid thing to do and that it was freezing up there. Tony was just trying to keep the band together in a time of turmoil. Ozzy had this to say on the album: "The fucking studio's a pile of shit, the fucking -- we had two songs half- written before we'd gotten into the studio.
The reason we'd gone to Canada was because of the tax-exile thing, because the taxes are so high in England. In the end, it cost us nearly fucking thousand dollars to make that album, and it was the biggest pile of horseshit that I've ever made in my life. I'm embarrassed with that album. Junior's Eyes was kept for the final album with the same music but Ozzy rewrote the lyrics in a way as to say goodbye to his father.
They had cars, success, and perhaps little motivation to release another album. Ozzy himself has said he only wanted to release an album to make money and get fat off Take Good Care Of You - Various - Sales Conference Vol. 1 1979 (Vinyl beer.
Ozzy would subsequently not show up for weeks at a time for practice. They were to begin work on their next album, "Heaven and Hell". Tony was fed up with Ozzy and was interested in having Dio as a vocalist. Bill feels bad about doing this because him and Oz were best of friends and yet Bill wanted Ozzy out of the band as well.
People still ask how Ozzy left, the truth is that both him and Tony Iommi say he was fired. Ozzy also adds that he was relieved at this. In actual fact Ozzy was asked many times on the last day to leave before being fired. For some time now Ozzy wanted to go into a new musical direction and perhaps was unable to do so with the politics of the band being the way they were.
Tony, being the transportation, would never be spoken against by the other members of the band. Their last tour would be the "Never Say Die" tour. Appropriately named. He would order out for pizza and booze and have his dealer drop off cocaine for him. He basically thought his life was over. It was around this time that his friend Sharon Arden came to collect a debt from Ozzy. Sharon saw Ozzy in a state of despair and suggested to him to form another band. Ozzy went about this with the help of Dana Strum.
The auditioned many guitarists, one of whom was 23 year old Randall William Rhoads. He had an older brother Doug and a sister named Kathy.
Their father was a music teacher while their mother ran a music school named Musonia. At this time he received his first guitar, an acoustic Gibson that had belonged to his maternal grandfather. At the age of 12, Randy began taking lessons from Scott Shelly, a guitar teacher at Musonia. Eventually Shelly would approach Delores and explain that she could not teach Randy anymore, he knew everything that she did. At the approximate age of 14, Randy then joined his first band named Violet Fox.
Randy played rhythm guitar while his brother Doug playing drums, The band lasted about half a year. Randy remained in Quiet Riot for less than a year. After leaving the group he approached Karl Sandoval to create a custom guitar for him. In the latter part of theat the suggestion of a bass player from a band that used to open for Quiet Riot Dana StrumRandy went to audition for a band being put together by Ozzy. Ozzy then decided to tour, with his first solo concert in Glasgow, Scotland on September 12, What you probably don't know is that Ozzy had two shows before his debut under the band name of "Law".
The opening day of his first solo concert he and Sharon paced the streets nervously. Since people in Scotland usually showed up at the concert without prepaying for tickets, they had no way of knowing how many people would show up. As it turned out it was a big success. Ozzy played all of his Blizzard of Ozz album and some Sabbath songs. Eventually he broke down and cried because he realized that he could make it on his own without the other three Sabbath embers with whom he had paved the road to success.
You must realize that when Ozzy was in Sabbath he was really not a contributing member of the band. Now Ozzy and Randy were the main writers and had equal say as to what went into the songs. Ozzy some years before the "incident" 2.
Diary of a Madman "So, one night, when he wanted to get on the tour bus, I threw him in the luggage compartment. Somebody grabbed me and said: 'What you're doing is not only illegal but it's inhumane.
I yelled: 'He's my fucking midget and I'll fucking do what I want with him. An interesting note, Ozzy's son, Elliot is shown on the album cover. Though production of the album was rushed towards the end so that the band could get out and tour, Ozzy has said he liked this album better of the two. The album came out the same time as Sabbath's Mob Rules album. Diary soared to the top 15 on US charts while Mob Rules remained at Ozzy's first two albums would sell over 6 million copies.
As they toured, Randy would often hold a guitar clinic for kids who wanted to learn to play guitar. A kid named Joe Holmes took lessons from Randy, and would later have an impact on Ozzy's life as well. During the tour, Ozzy was admitted to St. Johns mental hospital near London after suffering a mental breakdown. He would laugh and cry as band members visited him.
On the upside, the stage setting for Diary of a Madman was a huge castle complete with fog. The drummer was situated on a raised platform, and there was an opening in the center of the stage where a dwarf would come out to give Ozzy water and towels. It has been brought to my attention that Kenny Baker actually played R2D2 so I don't know which name is correct.
John Allen suffered mock abuse by having pig entrails tossed at him, he was stuffed into a hole and he was even hanged for prolonged periods from a noose as shown on some videos. This was accomplished with a harness so as not to really choke him, but how did he manage to stay up for so long?? During the Diary tour, Ozzy would throw raw meat at his audience. It was even part of his contract that 25 pounds of calves livers and pigs intestines be thrown.
A parent once phoned the promoter of the show asking how to get blood out of the clothes. As the tour continued, people would bring meat to the show to throw back at him. As time passed, the audience brought dead frogs, cats, snakes, etc. Once, someone threw a toy doll onto the stage and Ozzy freaked out thinking that someone had thrown a real infant up on stage. On Jan. He bit into the bat, taking off its head. Immediately the audience and Sharon freaked out. Ozzy was rushed to emergency to have rabies shots.
It is reported that at the time he was treating the whole thing as a joke, apparently barking like a dog when wheeled into the hospital. He sent the crew back to find the bat to find out if it was in fact real or not, the bat could not be found. The shots would continue for about a week, with needles in each buttock, arms and leg. Ozzy would also faint or collapse at the concerts which followed. Ozzy's advice on the situation is, "if you want to be a complete dick, try it".
Subsequently the bat would become a symbol for Ozzy on his upcoming albums, and even a tattoo. The animal humane society would become involved and show up to boycott Ozzy concerts. From this point on, he was marked a madman and his reputation began to precede him. One such nasty rumor, and sure sign of people's ability to go overboard with gossip and rumors is this little gem: Before one concert even started, Ozzy supposedly threw three small dogs into the audience. He refused to play the show until all the dogs came back to him dead.
The story is not true. It was the honest mistake with a bat which would cement itself in people's minds, even to this day. Ozzy has never returned. They were separated soon after the day he came home drunk to find a bailiff at the door, and all of his belongings outside. He was told that if he stepped inside the house he would be arrested.
Ozzy was not exactly what you would call a father figure. He would leave home for days, weeks, at a time and stay at friends places until they kicked him out. Rather than go through the divorce proceedings, Ozzy told her to just keep everything. By now Ozzy and Sharon had gotten to the point where they decided to get married. Sharon had been hoping this would also get Ozzy a better deal since her father was the one managing the recording and managerial contracts. The show was to feature Foreigner and UFO.
Ozzy and Randy had been talking about their recent success. Randy mentioned wanting to leave to pursue a degree in classical guitar at UCLA. Ozzy has said that if Randy were still alive, it is doubtful that Randy would still be playing with him.
This location was a private community and served as home to Andrew. Jerry Calhoun who also lived at the estate leased the tour buses out to those who required them.
Aycock 36 invited some of the crew for a ride in a Beechcraft Bonanza F airplane am. The bus driver took Don Airey and Jake Duncan for a spin. Unbeknownst to anyone, Aycock had been involved in a previous accident in which a young boy was killed. His pilot's license was not valid due because his medical certificate had expired. When the plane landed, the driver went for another ride, this time with Randy and Ozzy's seamstress, Rachael Youngblood, The pilot of the plane was presumably under the influence of cocaine it was later found in drug tests.
Aycock had picked up his ex-wife at one of the concerts and was to drop her off in Florida. She was standing outside the bus and it is assumed Andrew dove the plane into the bus in an attempt to kill her. Aycock circled the bus three times, and on the fourth pass, the plane clipped the tour bus, spun through a tree, pinwheeled over upside down and careened into a nearby house where it exploded. Ozzy ran into the house and pulled out Jesse Herndon 70a deaf man who was unaware of the fire.
Rachel and Randy were both killed in the crash. The fire destroyed the home and adjacent garage. Ozzy's new solo career had come to a screeching halt. He would continue the tour in April with a quick shoe in of Bernie Torme. Bernie used to play guitar for Gillan Ian Gillan, who would join Sabbath. Bernie would not stay with Ozzy long however. Bernie left Ozzy's band after three weeks. The reason is not known for sure. Some people say he was not used to playing big gigs.
His departure from Ozzy was bound to happen. Brad Gillis left 'Night Ranger' to replace Torme for the remainder of the tour. Lee with whom he recorded 's 'Bark At The Moon' album. Gillis would later rejoin Night Ranger. Brad may have wanted to stay on with Ozzy but Oz didn't really think the two of them were compatible. On Feb. Sharon decided to lock his clothes in the hotel room so that Ozzy would not go outside and cause trouble.
To solve this problem, Ozzy dressed up in one of Sharon's evening gowns. While taking some photos of himself in drag, he had to urinate and did so on the historical Alamo building.
The Alamo is the site of the legendary battle between the Texans and the Mexican army. Ozzy was arrested and charged with defiling a national monument and banned from playing in San Antonio any further. This would be another blow to his image that would haunt him to this day. The ban was eventually lifted. I received a piece of email from one of the officers who arrested Ozzy at the Alamo. Contrary to the dress we was supposed to be wearing, he says Ozzy was not in one. This is just one of the many contradictions in this FAQ.
Until they can be proven, they will remain. Here is the e-mail I received Thanks Sam : "I am one of the officers who arrested Ozzy at the Alamo and to set the record straight he was not wearing a womans clothes.
He had on athletic shoes with no socks, a T-shirt and a pair of sweatpants with no underwear. He also had a pack of cigarettes rolled up in one sleeve. He was wasted and he never spoke. Billy actually arrested him and I was driving the "wagon" that day. The wagon is a van outfitted for prisoner transport. I was called to transport him from the Alamo to jail.
The jail was then directly across from the S. I've kicked myself several times since then for not having kept copies of the reports. I know what he was wearing because I searched him for weapons and had very close contact with him.
Half way to the jail, which was only about a mile away the dispatchers were already calling wanting to know who had him in custody. By the time I dropped him off there was a long black stretch limo waiting for him. You might note for your records he was actually given a big break.
The law that more appropriately applied was "Desecration of a venerated Object" which covers among other things "Shrines. You can post my info on your web page if you like. I think it would be cool to hear from fans to answer their questions. Check back later on the report. Send me the exact date again as I really do not remember and I'll try to get it for you. Tommy Aldridge was the best man. Here is the story: After leaving Black Sabbath, Ozzy was rejected by many record labels.
Ozzy was just another album to them, and they were not interested in the person behind the music. Sharon decided it would be a good publicity stunt for Ozzy to walk into the office and throw two doves up into the air. The stunt worked, and made CBS pay attention to Ozzy. It also made the nation pay attention to Ozzy as well: After throwing one dove up in the air, Ozzy bit the head off of the other one.
It is not known whether Sharon intended for Ozzy to actually bite the dove's head off or not. Ozzy has already admitted he not surprisingly had drunk a bottle of booze beforehand.
Make no mistake about it, Sharon Osbourne is a shrewd marketer and I wouldn't put any dirty trick past her. What follows is an interview with an eyewitness from Epic who saw the event: Q: What happened? A: It was a normal Thursday morning marketing meeting down in the conference room. It was just prior to the release of Ozzy's first solo album. His management and Jet Records, which is the associated label that puts out his albums, had arranged for him to pay a little surprise visit to us, to say "Hi, my name is Ozzy Osbourne, and let's make this record a hit".
Q: Is it unusual for the artist to come to a marketing meeting? A: No, they seldom do. We've had people from time to time just come in. Their manager arranges for them to drop by and say, "Surprise!
Q: Then what happened? A: He walked in with Sharon, who later became his wife, and [withheld] from Jet Records. They introduced Ozzy all around, and there was a photographer with them. They sat him down on the arm of a chair, and he pulled a dove out of his pocket. I looked at it and thought, "Gee how cute!
A: I'm ninety-nine and nine-tenths sure it was alive, but now I can't sayfor sure. I remember I was leaning forward and thinking, "How cute," and suddenly he bites its head off. There was blood on the floor. I think he ate the head; he started spitting some feathers out. I was in shock. It's hard to remember too much after that, to tell you the truth. It was horrible. Q: What was the reaction of the people in the room? A: There was a stunned silence, and they got him out of there, fast. It was just very quiet-not a good reaction, I would say.
People were going, "Yucch! Some looked as though they thought it was a fake bird, that it was all just a publicity stunt. Marisa Monte. Guardian Singles. Desire Marea. Media Jeweler. George Harrison. Justus Proffit. Nite Jewel. Geoffrey O'Connor. Aretha Franklin. Tropical Fuck Los Lobos. Advanced Album Search. All Filters. Release Date - select one - Album Mood x.
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