Regina native Kevin Churko made a record with the musical "Prince Of Darkness" . . . and lived to tell about it.
"All I could think is, 'Please don't die in Ozzy Osbourne's house,' " the ridiculously talented producer/engineer/songwriter and musician recalls of a scary allergic episode that concluded with a 9-1-1 call and a shot of epinephrine, which potentially saved his life.
Osbourne made the call and even signed photos for the paramedics, but it's Churko who saved Ozzy's bacon with his work on Black Rain, an album being called the former Black Sabbath frontman's best in over a decade.
Font: ****The Blizzard Of Oz and one of Yorkton's favourite sons have become great pals since the pair co-wrote and produced the new album, but it seems a safe bet that Churko never told Ozzy that he used to perform a country two-steppin' version of "Crazy Train" in his Yorkton family band nearly two decades ago.
Although Churko has quickly established himself as one of the most sought-after producer/engineers in music today, he says his experience with Ozzy and the Osbourne clan was nothing but positive.
"It was probably the most satisfying project I have ever worked on, beginning to end," he says from the Las Vegas home he shares with his wife Kemnay and children Kane and Khloe. "The entire experience was amazing and it was the most fun I've ever had making an album."
That might seem like a bit of a stretch considering the legendary metal howler's icon status and the fact that he seemed incapable of stringing two sentences together on his family's groundbreaking (for better or worse) reality television show.
"Ozzy is not entirely what people saw on that show," Churko says, laughing. "When the show was on he was using (drugs), popping pills and drinking, but he's been sober for the past three years.
"He's a very gracious, very smart and very real person -- he cuts through bull**** and sees truth faster than anyone I know."
Some would say the same of Churko and his ability in getting the most from himself and the artists he works with and records.
His brother Cory had been a long-time touring fiddle player in Shania Twain's band when Kevin's name came up for some studio work with Twain's husband and legendary producer Robert John (Mutt) Lange in the fall of 1999.
After several late-night telephone conversations with the man who not only married the sexiest woman in country music history but also produced Back In Black, Churko was on a plane to Switzerland where he spent four years that would change his life forever.
Reputed to be the most demanding perfectionist to ever walk into a recording studio, Lange still couldn't help but be inspired by the Saskatchewan work ethic of Churko. And let's face it: If you can impress Mutt Lange, you're immediately in the upper echelon of recording studio geeks in the world.
"The hardest thing and the greatest thing about working with Mutt is that he would accept nothing less than excellence," Churko recalls. "And out of my high respect for him I would give nothing less than excellence.
"I wanted to give him as much as I possibly could on the projects we were working on and that meant a lot of hours and consecutive days and weeks. I was willing to do the work so I guess he found the right guy."
Good luck is what happens when hard work meets opportunity. A foot in the door wouldn't have meant a thing had it not been for Churko's will, hard work, God-given talent and determination.
His "man-in-demand" status is deserved . . . even Ozzy Osbourne could tell you that.
- Gerry Krochak's column appears Thursdays in What's On. You can reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org