Sunday, February 12, 2012

The #89 Guitarist of the Rock Era: Jake E. Lee

Up next in Inside the Rock Era's unique presentation of The Top 100 Guitarists of the Rock Era*, the guitarist who became famous for the sound behind Ozzy Osbourne and Ratt.
#89:  Jake E. Lee, Ratt, Ozzy Osbourne
 33 years as an active guitarist

Jakey Lou Williams was born February 15, 1957 in Norfolk, Virginia.  When the family moved to San Diego, California, he began taking classical piano lessons, but soon turned his interest to the guitar.  Jake's sister allowed him to listen to Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath and this experience led Jake to an intense interest in rock and roll and specifically the guitar. 
In high school, Jake formed a band Teaser, which played dances and at clubs in the San Diego area.  Teaser developed a loyal local following and Jake caught the eye of guitarist Warren DeMartini, who asked Jake for lessons.  Stephen Pearcy, who was in a San Diego band called Mickey Rat, also heard about Lee's guitar playing and asked him to join the band as lead guitarist.  The group changed their name to Ratt and moved to Los Angeles.  Their success in San Diego followed them, and soon they were playing in famous clubs like Whiskey-a-Go-Go and the Troubadour. 

Lee left Ratt and played a few concerts as lead guitarist of Rough Cutt.  With the death of Randy Rhoads, Ozzy Osbourne needed a new guitarist and invited Jake to audition for lead guitarist in his band.  Over 500 guitarists tried out and after much evaluation, Osbourne selected Lee.
Lee toured for four years with the band and released two albums, one of which (Bark at the Moon) sold over a million copies, not a blockbuster by any means but about as good as Osbourne could do.  Despite this, he fired Jake in the middle of one of his rages.

Many people were interested in Lee after they found out he was available.  The one that really triggered Jake's interest was the one he got from ex-Black Sabbath lead singer Ray Gillen.  Gillen's idea was to organize a blues-based metal band and together, they brought in bassist Greg Chaisson and drummer Eric Singer to form the group Badlands.  Badlands released two albums that received good critical reviews but Gillen left the group and the group did not stay together.

Lee has been invited to play on many compilation and tribute albums, including tributes to Van Halen, Rush and Jeff Beck.  Lee has also released a solo album--A Fine Pink Mist.
Jake E. Lee plays a Charvel-modified Fender Stratocaster and the Charvel Holdsworth Strats, as well as owning other Charvel/ESP guitars that have been modified to his specifications.  Lee uses Marshall JCM800 2203 and 1968-1970 Marshall Plexi amplifiers, Boss effect pedals and Seymour Duncan and DiMarzio pickups.

Lee comes in at #89 for the Rock Era...

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