Former OZZY Guitarist Jake E. Lee Claims Sharon Scammed Him Out of Royalties
A tale as old as time… a musician without much business knowledge gets screwed in the music business.
Former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Jake E. Lee, who played on Bark At The Moon and The Ultimate Sin, has been out and about promoting his new band, Red Dragon Cartel and was recently interviewed and asked about his time in Ozzy's band by Eddie Trunk. Lee revealed that he was screwed over by Sharon Osbourne over songwriting credits and royalties:
“Here’s the truth. This is really gonna get me in more hot water, but whatever, I’m in hot water and I don’t see a way out …
I was told from the get-go, ‘[If] you write part of the songs, you’ll get writing credit, you’ll get publishing. That’s part of your deal.’
So we recorded the album. I’m recording the album at Ridge Farm … in the middle of Scotland. Ridge Farm is actually a farm; the recording studio is in the barn. So I’m by myself. I don’t have management, I don’t have a lawyer, I don’t have anything.
But they promise me, ‘You’ll get what’s coming.’ And I keep asking because I’m getting really close to finishing all my stuff on the record, and finally, once I lay down the final track of my guitar playing, they said, ‘Ah! We have the contract for you.’ And in it, it says, specifically, ‘Ozzy Osbourne wrote all the songs. You had nothing to do with any of the writing, you have no claim to publishing, and you cannot say so publicly.’
And I looked at it. I’m looking at Sharon, and I said, ‘This is not what you told me before.’ And she says, ‘No, it isn’t.’
‘Why do you think I’m gonna sign it?’
‘Because if you don’t, we’ll give you a plane ticket, you go back home and you stand in line and you sue us. In the meantime, we have all your tracks, we’ll get another guitar player, he’ll redo your tracks, and you’ll have nothing.’
“That was mean. What am I gonna do? Really? Am I gonna say, ‘Fine. I’m going home. Take my tracks off. Some other guy will get all the credit for playing guitar, and I still have to try to sue you for the rights?’ It would have been just… not a good decision.
“Well, then, I refused to do [The Ultimate Sin] until I had a contract in front of me promising me writing credit and publishing.
If true, that is some expert strong-arming by Sharon Osbourne. You have to wonder why Lee would even agree to record a note before signing a contract. Clearly, the guy is an artist and is not focused on business-minded matters, which is why he allegedly got screwed over. You don't have much bargaining power once your tracks are already written and recorded and they really have no need for you.
Either way, this is a painful reality of the music business.