Whether it was through regular lineup changes or the tragic death of Randy Rhodes, Ozzy went through a number of guitarists to contribute to his solo music career. Before landing with New Jersey’s own Zakk Wylde, numerous auditions took place to find the right person.
Enter Jennifer Batten, an amazingly talented guitarist that’s been shredding faces off since the early 80s. Having been known for playing with Michael Jackson during many of his tours in the 80s and 90s, as well as appearing in some of his music videos, she’s earned plenty of international notice over the decades.
While speaking with Ultimate Guitar, she spoke about the sexism that she’s dealt with as a professional female guitar player. And while she said she’s dealt with that problem over the years, one thing that stood out to her was her attempt to try out for Ozzy’s band, where she’s certain her gender killed her chances at the gig.
“I remember, specifically, before the [Michael] Jackson thing came up, I was trying to get an audition with Ozzy Osbourne. And they were of auditioning everybody in LA at the time. And I know my audio got to the right people, and I didn’t even get a chance. Looking back, it’s a super macho gig, and they probably wouldn’t even consider a female for that. Having said that, if it was the same thing today, I think it’d be a whole different story. You get somebody like Nili Brosh – you could slay in a gig like that. She has incredible chops, great tone, great attitude, everything. It’s a different world. It is a very different world now.”
It’s hard to know whether her music ever actually did get to the right people roughly four decades after the fact, but it’s curious to wonder who would have turned her down simply for being a woman. Either way, that’s got to be a difficult pill to swallow, though she said she ultimately lived with it and moved on, eventually joining Michael Jackson for those aforementioned tours and music videos.
When asked about the current landscape for female shredders — specifically about ex-Alice Cooper and current Demi Lovato guitarist Nita Strauss — Batten had nothing but praise, citing how she relates to her.
“I’m super proud of her [Strauss]. I don’t have her record, but I’ve seen quite a few things on YouTube. It’s kind of funny, I think if I were her age, I’d probably do a similar kind of thing on stage – the hair flippy thing, [laughs] that the metal guys do. But that is so not who I am right now. It just kind of cracks me up.”
If you’d like to hear more about Batten’s career and her advice for young musicians everywhere, be sure to head over to Ultimate Guitar to read more of her interview.