Paul Gilbert discussed being rejected as Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist when he was 15 in a new Kylie Olsson interview.
“Pretty much, yeah. I lived in rural Pennsylvania at the time, and this is, of course, way before the internet, where you can just send an email to anybody.
“Randy Rhoads, I’ve been a huge fan of his, I saw him live a couple of times in concert, which was amazing, and I had learned a lot of those parts. And I was, for a 15-year-old kid, pretty well-versed in that style.
“At the same time, I knew that the chances of me joining Ozzy’s band were very low.
“I didn’t have great expectations but at the same time, I thought, ‘If I don’t try, somebody’s going to join. I think I could play the parts, at least I have to try because if I don’t try, it’s always going to bug me,’ and I would always think out the opportunity lost.
“So I thought, ‘Well, how am I going to try? I don’t know anybody. I’m in this small town. I don’t know anybody in the music business, I don’t know Ozzy’s phone number.’
“So I had some guitar magazines and Mike Varney had an article that had listed his address, and he said that he would reply to anybody who sent him a cassette of their playing. So I sent him a cassette, I think I played a Montrose song like ‘Rock Candy.’ And I played it pretty well.
“And he called me back. And I don’t think I mentioned how old I was in my letter. So, he was interested – he’s like, ‘Hey, you sound pretty good. Tell me about yourself.’ This was still the beginning of the hair ’80s, everybody had to have hair.
“‘Do you have long hair?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I got long hair, I got a perm. I look like a guy from Def Leppard.’ And he’s like, ‘Cool. Do you have good equipment?’ ‘Yeah, I got a Marshall stack.’
“Finally, he said, ‘Well, how old are you?’ ‘I’m 15.’ He’s like, ‘Uh, Ozzy doesn’t want a 15-year-old in the band…’
“But it gave me really the beginning of my career because Mike really liked my playing, and so he just said, ‘Keep sending me stuff.’
“And by the time I went out to L.A. to go to GIT, I had made enough original material where Mike actually wanted to do records with me, and that became Racer X.”