Randy Rhoads – 30 Years After

by on Mar.21, 2012, under Horror Show Hosts

Reposted from The BONE JANGLER Speaks! | Go to Original Post

Friday, March 19, 1982, the weekend had arrived, and I had just gone over to a close female friend’s house to listen to music, hang out, and have fun. Being that my friend Amy was only 16 at the time, she lived at home with her parents, and her older brother Greg. Upon entering the home, I was greeted warmly by Amy. Her brother was seated in their father’s recliner in front of the TV, and put down the newspaper he was reading to say, “hello.” Having noticed the record album in my hand, Greg asked me, “Whatcha got there?” I told him, “It’s Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘Diary Of A Madman’ and the guitar player’s great. In fact, I think I like his playing almost as much as I like Eddie Van Halen’s.” Knowing that EVH was my favorite living guitar player (Jimi Hendrix was, and is, my absolute favorite guitarist of all time), Greg said, “WOW! That’s really saying something! What’s his name?” “Randy Rhoads,” I said. Suddenly, the smile on his face vanished. “I hate to tell you this, but, he’s dead. He died in a plane crash today.” Immediately I looked at Amy, and then quickly back at her brother Greg, and I stared at him for a long time. Greg said, “I’m sorry. I wish I was just kidding you.” I remember it quite vividly.

Randall William Rhoads was born on Thursday, Dec. 6, 1956 at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica California, the youngest of 3 children. His father left home when Randy was only 17 months old, leaving mother Delores Rhoads to raise the 3 kids. Delores owned (and still does, at the age of 91 – she’ll turn 92 on March 26th) the Musonia School of music. When Randy was only 6 years old, he received his first guitar, a Gibson classical acoustic that had belonged to his grandfather. Before long, Randy began taking guitar and piano lessons at his mother’s school. When he was 8, he had his first public performance. A few years later, he was given his first electric guitar, a huge semi-acoustic Harmony that was nearly as big as the diminutive Randy. He began taking electric guitar lessons from a man by the name of Scott Shelly, who forced Randy to relentlessly practice scales taken from a violin book. Within a year, Mr. Shelly told Randy’s mother Dolores that there was nothing left for him to teach Randy.

Randy formed his first band, with his brother Kellie, when he was 14. About a year later, Kellie took Randy to his first concert – Alice Cooper. Randy’s mind was blown, and, in fact, he couldn’t speak for hours afterward. Seeing this concert had been an epiphany for Randy. He now knew where his talent could take him. Having been raised in a musical environment, made to read music, and growing up in a household without a stereo system, Randy quickly began to develop his own style. When he was just 16, he began teaching guitar at his mother’s school. It was here that he was exposed to other guitar players, seeing as all of his students wanted to learn how to play their favorite guitarists’ licks. Randy was playing about 48 hours a week at the school alone.

Randy taught his longtime friend Kelly Garni to play bass guitar, and, in 1973, they formed a band called Quiet Riot. They played the same backyard parties, and clubs, that Van Halen played, and even though Eddie Van Halen often performed many of his two handed antics with his back towards the audience (so that they couldn’t see how he did them), Randy eventually figured much of it out for himself. Eddie’s trademark was his striped guitar. Randy’s was his polka dot vests, and bow ties. In 1977, Quiet Riot secured a Japanese record deal with CBS/Sony, and went on to release 2 albums overseas. In 1979, shortly before quitting Quiet Riot, Randy approached guitar luthier Karl Sandoval about having his own custom guitar made. It was a Flying V body, black, with white polka dots. It was around this time that a friend from Raw Power Magazine called Randy, and tipped him off about former Black Sabbath singer Ozzy Osbourne looking for a guitarist.

Randy Rhoads was never a Black Sabbath fan, and didn’t listen to their albums. He went to the audition with his guitar, and a small practice amp. Everyone else had brought their Marshall stacks, and their giant equipment rigs, trying to show Ozzy how professional they were. Ozzy was drunk. Randy began tuning his guitar, and played a few scales and licks to warm up. Before he could put on a true demonstration of his skills, Ozzy blurted out, “You’ve got the gig,” and passed out. The 2 opposites really gelled, especially onstage. Randy was always shy, and quiet, but put on a great live performance. Ozzy had always been a crazy man, and knew the record business inside and out. Randy listened to Ozzy’s every word, and, in turn, took Ozzy’s music to a place that it had never been in Black Sabbath. In turn, Ozzy’s wild antics spurred Randy on to play live with more freedom, and a bravery to just go with the flow. On tour, Randy would look in the phone book for classical guitar tutors to give him lessons. He did this in every town that Ozzy’s band performed in… except one.

On March 19, 1982, in Leesburg, Florida, Ozzy was sleeping on his tour bus outside the home of driver Andrew Aycock. 36 year old Aycock was also a pilot, and first took keyboardist Don Airey for a ride in his plane. Next, hairdresser/seamstress Rachel Youngblood, 58, and Randy Rhoads, 25, were on the second joyride. Youngblood had a heart condition, and Randy went along for support, despite his fear of flying. Randy was also an avid photographer, and figured he could get some cool aerial shots from the view aboard the plane. For whatever reason, perhaps it was the cocaine lingering in his system (the only “drug” in Randy’s system at the time of his death, according to the official autopsy, was nicotine), Aycock decided to buzz the tour bus for laughs. Twice, the tour bus was buzzed successfully. On the third time, the wing clipped the top of the tour bus, tearing the roof to shreds, which sent the plane spiraling into a huge pine tree, severing the top of the tree. The plane crashed into the garage of a nearby mansion. All 3 persons aboard the plane died instantly, and their bodies were burned beyond recognition. Dental records, and Randy’s jewelry were used to identify what was left.

“Blizzard Of Ozz” and “Diary Of A Madman” are Ozzy Osbourne’s best solo albums, and, obviously, it is because of Randy Rhoads’ phenomenal guitar playing, which ignited a wave of “Neo Classical” guitarists that continues to this very day, 30 years after his untimely passing. Randy Rhoads, you are truly missed.

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