The album was released in memory of Rhoads, guitarist for Osbourne's band between 1979 and 1982 who died in a plane crash while on tour in Florida in 1982. The album also includes studio outtakes of Rhoads recording the classical-influenced acoustic guitar piece "Dee", which Rhoads wrote for his mother Delores and which was originally included on Osbourne's debut solo album Blizzard of Ozz.
The majority of the album from "I Don't Know" through to "Paranoid" was recorded live in Cleveland, Ohio on 11 May 1981, with the exception of an extended guitar solo in the song "Suicide Solution" which was recorded in Montreal on 28 July 1981, and inserted into the song. Osbourne stated upon the album's release in 1987 that the entire album had been recorded "somewhere in Canada", though he may have been confusing it with that Montreal recording from which the guitar solo was taken. "Goodbye to Romance" and "No Bone Movies" are taken from an early tour in support of the Blizzard of Ozz album, possibly from Southampton on 2 October 1980. These two tracks feature bassist Bob Daisley and drummer Lee Kerslake.
The album was originally to be released in 1982, but was shelved indefinitely upon Rhoads' death early that year. Instead, another live album, Speak of the Devil, was recorded and released later that same year, consisting entirely of Black Sabbath songs and featuring future Night Ranger guitarist Brad Gillis.
The recording of "Crazy Train" that appears on this album was also released as the album's only single on 10 February 1987, along with an accompanying music video. The album's cover photo was taken at a performance in Rosemont, Illinois on 24 January 1982, by photographer Paul Natkin.
The operatic music which opens Tribute, as well as all of Osbourne's live shows of that era, is "O Fortuna" from the Carmina Burana 'scenic cantata' by Carl Orff. This introduction is omitted from the 1995 remaster ("I Don't Know" is shortened to 4:43). Ozzy's voice in this album is doubled tracked.