The Environmental Crisis that Inspired “Revelation (Mother Earth)” by Ozzy Osbourne

When Ozzy Osbourne sought solid footing following his ejection from Black Sabbath, he found a very strong musical tribe. Between classically inspired guitarist Randy Rhoads, bassist Bob Daisley, and drummer Lee Kerslake, the singer procured a powerful performance and songwriting team that packed a wallop. His first two albums, Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman, marked an auspicious start to his solo career and have gone to sell a combined total of 8 million units domestically.

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The penultimate track on the 1980 LP Blizzard of Ozz was “Revelation (Mother Earth),” which was inspired by man’s penchant for self-destruction and mistreating the environment. While climate change and pollution have been major causes for concern in the 21st century, alarm bells were already being sounded by scientists as far back as the 1970s about what could happen if we did not correct course on those issues. Sadly, the song still retains its poignancy because today, the situation is at its most dire.

I had a vision, l saw the world burn
And the seas had turned red
The sun had fallen, the final curtain
In the land of the dead
Mother, please show the children
Before it’s too late
To fight each other, there’s no one winning
We must fight all the hate

Daisley took over the lyric writing on those early albums, as he explained to Classic Rock Revisited: “When we formed the band … no one else in the band was really a lyricist. Lee [Kerslake] had written a few songs himself, but his lyrics were really quite basic. Ozzy [Osbourne] wasn’t a lyricist at all, as Geezer Butler used to write the lyrics in Sabbath. Randy [Rhoads] wasn’t a lyricist. As great as a guitar player and musician as we was, he was not a lyricist. I just thought that I had better wear the lyricist hat, or otherwise we would have to go outside the band and source lyrics from someone else, which we didn’t want to do.”

Divine Lyrics

On his own website, Daisley discussed the making of the album. He offered thoughts on each of the album’s tracks, including “Revelation (Mother Earth).” “When it came time to write the lyrics at Ridge Farm during the recording of the album, I was reading parts of [‘The Book of Revelation’] in the Bible,” the bassist recalled. “I read a lot of philosophy and all sorts of schools of thought, which influenced the lyrics and message in the song. Ozzy did come up with a couple of lines in this one too though.”

Beyond the meaningful lyrics, this particular Osbourne track, which was too epic to be released as a single, also featured a lot of top notch guitar work from Randy Rhodes, who brought in a distinct classical flavor to his playing. The song balanced pastoral acoustic verses with more agitated electric ones, and there were only two choruses in the track, during which Kerslake played tubular bells. The second half of the song spotlighted an elegant keyboard solo from Don Airey, followed by a fiery and graceful solo from Rhoads. Some fans prefer the live version from the posthumous concert album Tribute which features more electric guitar. Rhoads loved the song, and it remains one of the most memorable in Osbourne’s large catalog.

Sadly, Rhoads was only with us a short time as he perished in a plane crash while on the tour for Diary of a Madman. He was only 25 years old. The skilled six-stringer had cut his teeth professionally by recording and touring with Quiet Riot, with whom he did two studio albums released only in Japan at the time, but then in Osbourne’s music he found a natural fit for his musical aspirations.

What Rhoads Brought

In a 1982 interview with journalist Jas Obrecht, Osbourne producer Max Norman spoke about what Rhoads brought to the table in terms of songwriting. “I’d say he was pretty instrumental in writing a lot of the actual key rhythms. He was also almost totally responsible for the overdub sections. For instance, “Revelation (Mother Earth)”—most of the musical backing on that is Randy’s. I think it’s his chord pattern, pretty much most of his ideas to fill up the overdubs, to fill up the track and everything. He did a great deal on nearly all of those number.”

While Osbourne continued to have a successful career in the wake of Rhoads’ death with other guitarists in tow—including Bernie Tormé and future Night Ranger axeman Brad Gillis (both Rhoads’ immediate live fill-ins), as well as Jake E. Lee, Zakk Wylde, and Gus G—there was something quite special about those first two albums. They had a kind of magic that represented that time period well, and which also represented the transition between ‘70s and ‘80s hard rock metal.

Although he was thriving in Osbourne’s band, Rhoads was always curious about other projects. “I was thinking that one of the great things for me would be to play on other peoples’ records,” Rhoads told Guitar World in 1982. “It would be nice to be known for playing in different areas. Ozzy Osbourne is about as heavy metal as you can get, and a lot of people don’t know me for that reason. But I would like to play some light jazz things. I was never into heavy fusion music, I’m thinking more on the acoustic melodic side.”

We will never know what else he could have achieved, but at least in his short time in the spotlight Rhoads left behind unforgettable songs like “Revelation (Mother Earth).”

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Photo by Fin Costello/Redferns

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