Rudy Sarzo – Heavy Metal Bassist

Cuban Food

rudy sarzo family

The Sarzo Family in Miami Florida after arriving from Havana Cuba.(1961) Courtesy of Rudy’s Facebook page.

“For me being on a diet, watching my intake for most of my life, stems from being a fat kid. I was raised in a Cuban household rich in Cuban culture and so my mother cooked a lot of meals in lard. When I was living in Cuba, the norm was to have a heavy breakfast, a heavy lunch and of course, a heavy dinner. Three full meals. That was my youth…tons of carbs and rice,lots of pork, and beans. No such thing as a snack. In fact there’s a Cuban sandwich called a Midnight Sandwich, which you’re supposed to eat before you go to bed. Theory is you’re going to be without food for eight hours and Cubans are very worried about a person starving in their sleep! I was a chubby kid until around 17. Then one summer in high school I lost like 40 pounds. I stopped eating Cuban food! That was my change of diet. We moved to Miami and in the 60s there was a lot of experimenting going on in America. We lived in New Jersey and my mother took me to this doctor in Manhattan. He gave me some pills, one for the morning, one for the evening. I had no idea I was taking uppers and downers. My family tried everything to balance out my weight but it wasn’t until I stopped eating Cuban food that I got thin.
I have a theory. Food is not my friend. I learned this in the early days of touring. I ate for survival. But I must say I eat better when I’m outside America. This country is so big; sustaining the population is very difficult. The means of food distribution is low fi, lets say. Trucking foods into different areas of the nation like the Midwest for example. Freezing them, chemicals, GMOS. When you travel in Europe, its like small countries side by side and each has its own farming and production and distribution.

rudy-sarzoI always try to eat about six hours before Showtime, which puts me around 2 pm. And sometimes you just have to eat whatever’s available at the truck stop like chicken McNuggets. On days off I treat myself to Thai food, gluten free of course. Rice rather than wheat based/ My wife cooks all gluten free meals for me at home, pasta made from rice, we eat a lot of quinoa I think its not just because we’re getting older but we’re also getting wiser because food in the US is getting worse. Unless you’re shopping at Whole Foods and Sprouts and raising your consciousness toward a healthier lifestyle.”

Ozzy, the great spiritual teacher

“My first gig as a touring musician was with Ozzy Osbourne. I wrote about it in Under the Rails, my autobiography of the Randy Rhoads years. I went from sleeping on a floor to riding jets and living with Ozzy and Sharon in their LA house. Prior to that I used to go to the Rainbow and see a lot of my heroes stoned out of their minds. And I’d say to myself, you know these guys are way more talented than I am, they’re wasted, look at where their careers are going. NOWHERE. I didn’t want to become like that. I’m going to socialize, do a little drinking, but stay away from the drugs. I moved to LA from Miami where I grew up. If I really wanted to have a snow-blind decadent lifestyle, I could have easily chosen that path. I wanted to be a rock musician, not a drug addict or a party guy. I had musician friends who said. “Why should I leave Miami? I’ve got my corvette, hot chicks and tons of blow.’ That’s not what I WANTED. I wanted what I have now and what I’ve had for the past 30 years.

Ozzy was my greatest teacher.

rudy-sarzo-ozzyPeople ask me, Hey how come you don’t have tattoos? Well, because they illustrate to me what happens when you go on a bender, wake up, and discover that you’ve got ink on your arm or chest or neck. No memory. When I joined the band, Sharon wanted me to be Ozzy’s drinking buddy. And it almost killed me. He has this indestructible DNA, at least back then. He really should be dead by now. When Ozzy would start drinking, it wasn’t a few cocktails or a bottle. It was – days. I made a decision shortly into the first tour to not travel down that road. Otherwise, everything I’d worked for up to that point, you know, the rock n’ roll dream, would be thrown away. Wasted.

I’m not a preacher. I believe that spirituality finds each person when they’re ready. And when I said no to the alcohol and drugs that was a spiritual decision. I began reading the Bible in 1980, the year before Ozzy appeared and changed my life forever. That’s my form of meditation.

Musicians are pretty much bullet proof. Look at that guy, a fan says. He’s a heavy metal rock star. He’s expected to be a fuck up. That’s not really true. He’s not a rock star. He’s a rock casualty.

Before I joined Ozzy’s band and I will never forget this as long as I live, I made peace with God. One day, I’m sleeping on the floor in Kevin DuBrow’s apartment, all by myself, reading the Bible. To the outside world, you’re a loser. To yourself, you’ve got faith. But in that moment, I made peace with God that if I made it as a musician, great – long as my fingers kept moving I’d be okay. And if I didn’t make it, that was okay too. Just being a working musician doing what I loved to do. My relationship with God was and still is the most important aspect of my life. That spiritual center helped me through all the chaos and circuses to come.”

The Destiny of Rockstars

“I’m gonna make it I’m gonna be a rock star” dream. What does that mean? To me, a rock star is somebody like BONO, Sting, and Springsteen – once you fulfill your passion or dreams, you kick into the next level and that’s fulfilling your destiny. What’s the destiny of man? To take care of each other. Like Bono said in “One.” Carry each other. Destiny is not choosing a profession. Get up on stage, make a bunch of money, buy a house, party, go back and do it again? No. Success is a gift and those who get it are inspired and required to give back. It wasn’t until I started getting into life coaching that I realized musicians, potential rock stars, needed a strategy that nobody gave us. A set of tools. The journey to self, that’s what its about. This Rockstar Remedy book will save lives. That’s part of the destiny of being a writer or a journalist.

I see Mick Jagger turning 70 this month and he never mails in a performance. That inspires me. When I hear him sing, “Sympathy for the Devil” now as opposed to say 30 years ago when it was recorded, it’s a different Jagger. Now he can take every lyric and own it as if he’s lived it.

“You go from being the messenger to actually embodying the message.”

Creativity and the Spirit

“Solitude inspires my creativity. Yoga, prayer and meditation. Staying fit involves a combination of attention to mind body and spirit. Music since the beginning has always been our vehicle to speak to the higher power. Cavemen howling to the skies, slaves working in the cotton fields singing the gospel hymns in the 1-4-5 progressions – cultures of Latin origins like mine – everywhere the same message. Singing to God to get through the day. The gospel became R&B and the blues became rock n’ roll.”

“Once you separate spirit from the music, you’re dead. “


Dr. G’s Comment: Thank you, Rudy! Truly this is one of the most insightful and thoughtful interviews I have ever read! You own it!

Excerpts from Interview by Lonn M. Friend For “The Rockstar Remedy”

Connect with Rudy • Facebook