Jake E. Lee (born February 15, 1957) is an American guitarist signed to Shrapnel Records. He is best known for playing with Ozzy Osbourne between 1983-1987 and later in Badlands with Ray Gillen. He formed the band Red Dragon Cartel in 2013. Their eponymous first album was released in January 2014 and entered at No. 69 on Billboard's Album Charts. He has also recorded solo works in his own name, examples being the instrumental album A Fine Pink Mist (1996) and cover album Retraced (2005).
Lee was born Jakey Lou Williams in Norfolk, Virginia, US.. His father is of Welsh ancestry; his mother is of Japanese ancestry. His father was a jazz fan, while his mother was a classic music fan, and his older sister a pop music fan. Lee grew up in San Diego and was encouraged by his mother to take classical piano lessons as a child when he was 6-year-old. With a lack of interest in piano, 13-year-old Lee found that he enjoyed playing his older sister's guitar. His older sister influenced his desire to play by introducing him to Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin records. The first song he learned was "No Time" by The Guess Who. From there, he used what formal training he had from piano, along with a Mel Bay guitar method book and concentrated on becoming a self-taught, rock guitarist. Catching on and quickly developing a talent for the guitar, Lee played in several high school bands. And so, a teenaged Lee was already turning heads and impressing fellow San Diego musicians with his style of playing.
In San Diego, Lee headed a band called Teaser, purportedly named after the debut solo album of Tommy Bolin, of whom Lee was an avowed fan. Teaser was the official house band at San Diego's first "teen night club", StraitaHead Sound. In 1980, Lee joined a San Diego hard rock band called Mickey Ratt, which after later relocating to Los Angeles became the popular glam metal band Ratt. They released the single "Dr. Rock"/"Drivin on E", which was given away for free to fans at their live shows. Their song "Tell the World" was included on the original pressing of the influential first Metal Massacre album (1982), an album which also featured Metallica's first song "Hit the Lights".
Lee soon left Ratt to join Rough Cutt, who were at that time produced by Ronnie James Dio and managed by his wife, Wendy. After hearing Lee in Rough Cutt in 1982, Dio invited Lee to join his new solo band Dio, which he was forming after departing Black Sabbath. Lee accepted, though his time in Dio's band was short-lived. According to drummer Vinny Appice, there were rehearsals with Lee and Dio and recordings of those rehearsals still exist. Lee claims to have written the main riff to "Don't Talk to Strangers" (which would later appear on the Holy Diver album) and that Dio wanted him to play "simple block chords that wouldn't trample on his vocals".
When Ozzy Osbourne sought a permanent replacement for the deceased Randy Rhoads, he came to Los Angeles to audition lead guitarists. Bassist Dana Strum, who had recommended Rhoads to Osbourne in 1979, this time recommended Lee for the job. Osbourne was torn between Lee and Dokken guitarist George Lynch. Though Osbourne is said to have initially chosen Lynch, he soon changed his mind and Lee became his full-time guitarist for the next five years. Lee joined Osbourne's band in late 1982 following the tour supporting the Speak of the Devil live album which featured Brad Gillis on guitar.
With Lee, bassist Bob Daisley then began writing lyrics and recording the Bark at the Moon album. The songs "So Tired" and "Bark at the Moon" were released as singles, with accompanying videos, and they received regular airplay on MTV and radio. To date, the album has sold three million copies in the U.S.
After Osbourne left the Betty Ford Center where he had been treated for substance abuse, Lee presented him with the music he had written while Osbourne was away. Osbourne was purportedly very satisfied with the quantity and quality of Lee's new music, much of which would be used for the 1986 album, The Ultimate Sin. The album was awarded platinum status in May 1986 and was awarded double platinum status in October 1994. Lee and Osbourne once again toured extensively, this time with Phil Soussan on bass, John Sinclair on keyboards and Randy Castillo on drums. In Kansas City, Missouri on April 1, 1986, a concert was filmed which would be released later that year as the home video The Ultimate Ozzy. In 1987, after touring with Ozzy Osbourne in support of The Ultimate Sin album, Lee was fired in a telegram from Sharon Osbourne while working on one of his muscle cars back in Los Angeles. Lee was completely caught off guard at the time of his firing and was under the impression he had a solid working gig with the Osbourne camp.
After being fired from Ozzy's band, Lee formed the blues-based hard rock band Badlands with vocalist Ray Gillen in 1988. Badlands consisted of Lee, Gillen, drummer Eric Singer, and bassist Greg Chaisson. The band released their self-titled debut album in 1989. In 1991, Singer left Badlands to join KISS following the death of longtime drummer Eric Carr. Badlands then released the follow-up album Voodoo Highway. During a tour between that album and the upcoming third album they were ready to begin recording, Gillen left the band and was briefly replaced by John West. Gillen later died of AIDS-related complications in 1993. In 1998, Dusk, the final Badlands album consisting of unreleased live in-studio 24-track demos was released in Japan; a European release followed in 2000.
Following the demise of Badlands, Lee opted for a radical musical departure and teamed with World War III vocalist Mandy Lion in a new band called Wicked Alliance. The initial line-up also featured future Korn drummer Ray Luzier and bassist Jimmy Bain who was replaced with Brian Perry, formerly of Dirty Looks and Lizzy Borden, in time for the band's one and only U.S. tour in early 1994. The band also cut a three-song demo with Joe Floyd of Warrior at Silver Cloud Studios in Burbank, CA. The songs recorded were "The Rust", "Kiss This", and "World Gone Wild", the latter of which Lion had previously performed with a late 1980s line-up of World War III. Another song the band worked on was "Blood Provider", based on Badlands' "Sun Red Sun", which later surfaced on the posthumous Dusk album in 1998. In 1996, Lee released an instrumental solo album titled A Fine Pink Mist on the Pony Canyon label in Japan with the intention of also releasing the Wicked Alliance album through the same company. However, Lee and Lion never finished the album and no tracks from it have surfaced to date.
Throughout most of the 1990s and into the new millennium, Lee kept a relatively low profile. He has most notably appeared on musical tributes to Queen, AC/DC, Rush, Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, and Metallica. Lee also briefly joined Bourgeois Pigs with Shark Island vocalist Richard Black, guitarist Michael Guy, and bassist Tony Franklin. One demo from the Bourgeois Pigs sessions emerged on the Union 4 compilation in 2001 called "Calamities of Vanity". In 2000, Lee played lead guitar on two tracks from Rob Rock's Rage of Creation album. In 2005, Lee released his first album in eight years entitled Retraced, which consisted of blues covers from the 1960s and 1970s. Lee was briefly in a three-piece band called 3 Day Crush.
In 2011, Jake appeared in the video, along with Ron Keel, Blas Elias, Sunset Thomas and Paul Shortino, for the song "We Come Undone" by the band Beggars & Thieves. The song is from their new CD We Are the Brokenhearted and Jake is featured performing the guitar solo. The following captions appear on the screen during Jake's appearance: “Jake E. Lee is alive and well, living in Las Vegas” and “He would just rather play with Beggars & Thieves than deal with shady promoters and play Bark at the Moon 750 more times”.
In 2012, Lee had a cameo in That Metal Show's "That Metal Special" in Las Vegas, and was a guest on the fourth episode of the 12th season of the show as well as guest guitarist on the eighth and ninth episodes of the same season.
Jake is in a new band called Jake E. Lee's Red Dragon Cartel. Their first album is due at the end of January 2014.
While appearing on That Metal Show on VH1 Classic, Jake E. Lee claimed he wrote "Bark at the Moon" for which Ozzy Osbourne claimed credit, along with the rest of that album. Lee and Daisley were properly credited for their writing on The Ultimate Sin album.
Note: He has used various other pieces of equipment, but due to his low profile, it is difficult to list all of it.
- Marshall JCM800 2203 and various other Marshalls
- Orange OR 50 with Marshall Cabinet
- EVH 5150 III (He can be seen using this on episodes of 'That Metal Show' on VH1 Classic and Deceived videoclip)
- EVH 5150 III 100S (Stealth, limited edititon model of the EVH 5150 III 100w head)
- Boss OD-1 'Over Drive'
- Boss BF-2 'Flanger'
- Dunlop Rotovibe 'Univibe'
- Modified Fender Stratocaster (modded by friend at Charvel, hence the logo. White finish, black pickguard, slanted middle and slanted neck single coil pickups)
- Custom Charvel Stratocaster (Same specifications as his modified Fender, but with a transparent blue finish and no pickguard)
- Charvel San Dimas (Used on BTM tour and Ultimate Sin, with Ozzy Osbourne) (White with a Black Pickguard)
- Charvel Holdsworth Stratocasters (Red with mirror pickguard and single bridge pickup; Daphne Blue with a black pickguard and a single bridge pickup)
- ESP Custom Shop 'Jake E. Lee Signature' Stratocasters (Same specifications as his modified Fender, but in various different colors)
Jake has also been seen on photo and on video using Gibson guitars (from 2009 to 2012):
- Black Gibson SG Standard
- Gibson SG Jr. ('60s model) (Cherry finish, single P-90 pickup)
- Gibson Les Paul Special (Beggars and Thieves video – Single cutaway, dual P-90 pickups)
- Gibson SG Junior (White with black pickguard and single P-90 bridge pickup)
With Rough Cutt
- songs "A Little Kindness" and "Used and Abused" (1981)
With Ozzy Osbourne
- Bark at the Moon (1983)
- The Ultimate Sin (1986)
- Badlands (1989)
- Voodoo Highway (1991)
- Dusk (1998)
With Wicked Alliance
- Twisted Beauty Demo (recorded 1994)
- A Fine Pink Mist (1996, Pony Canyon Records)
- Retraced (2005, Shrapnel Records)
- Guitar Warrior (2007, Deadline Music)
- Running with the Devil (2008, Cleopatra Records)
With Mickey Ratt
- The Garage Tape Dayz 78-81 (2000)
With Enuff Z'Nuff
- Dissonance (2009)
With Red Dragon Cartel
- Red Dragon Cartel (2014)