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Randy Rhoads: The Legacy

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 Randy Rhoads has one of the most recognizable guitar styles in the history of metal. His classical influences can be seen in Ozzy masterpieces such as Mr. Crowley, as well in awesome instrumentals such as Dee and Laughing Gas. He has received “Best New Guitar Player” from Guitar Player magazine and was inducted into the Rock Walk in 2004. In 1982, Randy lost his life in a plane accident. Even still, he influences some of rock’s biggest guitarists. Only-Rock is delighted to bring you the new O-R Special: Randy Rhoads: The Legacy.

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 Randy’s Early Years

Randall William Rhoads, better known as Randy Rhoads, was born on December 6th, 1956 in Santa Monica California. When he was almost two years old, his father left the family. He was raised by his mom, Delores Rhoads, who owned and operated the Musonia School of Music in Burbank. When he turned six, he received his grandfather’s old army Gibson classical guitar and began to learn folk music. He took lessons for a only a few years before his teacher told his mother that she just couldn’t teach him any more. This classical style can be seen in his neo-classical works with Ozzy Osbourne.

            When Randy was 11 years old, he was already learning his leads. He met his best friend, Kelly Garni. Randy had wanted a bass player to jam with, but who would take an eleven year-old seriously? He eventually taught Kelly how to play bass. As they got older, the pair would play shows with any drummer they could find at the time. Though they rarely used singers, they eventually found one by the name of “Smokey” at the local Guitar Center. The boys called the band Smokey and played at various clubs, including one by the name of Rodney’s English Disco. Soon the band was disbanded and Randy was with a new band named Violet Fox. Named after his mother’s middle name, Violet, the band featured Randy on guitar, Kelly on bass, and Randy’s older brother Doug on drums.

           

The Quiet Riot Years

By the time Randy was 17 Quiet Riot had been formed. “One day Randy and I were at this girl’s house named Hilary and was talking… about some singer named Kevin. I was like, ‘singer? Kevin? Who is this guy?’  Hillary said he looked like Rod Stewart, though she had never heard him sing… we wanted to check him out so we went over to his house and took a look at him. Our first thought was that he looked pretty geeky. We didn’t see a whole lot of potential there. We immediately started looking for a way to get out of there!”

            Even though Randy and Kelly thought that DuBrow had little talent, Kevin sure had a lot of respect for Randy. Kevin tried and tried to get together with the guys and form a band. “We would make up excuse after excuse. We would say things like we had a cold, or one of the amps were blown, or there was nowhere to play. He just kept calling,” Kelly said. Eventually though, RR and Kelly gave him a chance. From Kevin DuBrow, “Randy gave me my first guidance as a singer. I was singing really low and he suggested I try singing a bit higher. We soon became Quiet Riot.”

            Randy may have been a prodigy, but him and Kelly were not well liked at their school. Their fellow students at their school gave them a hard time for how they looked and dressed, and Kelly even recalls Randy as “small… artful-looking… not athletic-looking what so ever. Just all in all different.” However, Delores Rhoads thought differently. “Randy was dedicated and determined to expand his abilities both as a performer and musician… A special talent is definitely reflected in those early recordings.” Drew Forsyth joined the band as drummer, and QR played at Hollywood clubs and parties.

            Eventually, Quiet Riot rivaled bands such as Van Halen and Ratt on the L.A. club scene. They began playing at the biggest name clubs on the L.A. Sunset Strip such as The Whiskey and The Starwood. However, they just couldn’t seem to keep hold of a record deal, since every label that signed them went out of business before their record could be released. Finally in 1977 CBS/Sony in Japan signed the band. They released Quiet Riot I in 1978 in Japan. In late 1978, Garni left the band and was replaced by bassist Rudy Sarzo. Quiet Riot II was released in 1979.

            On September 22, 1979, Randy received his signature polka-dot guitar from Karl Sabdoval. It cost Randy $738, and would later become a trademark for early-Ozzy albums and is now a special guitar for sale by Jackson guitars. Frankie Banali also joined the band as drummer around this time.

            When Ozzy decided to start his solo career in 1979, he scoured NY and LA for guitarists. Randy and Kelly had thought of Black Sabbath as a doomsday joke, and didn’t even consider the idea until Dana Strum, future VVI and Slaughter bassist who had been a good friend of Randy, referred him to Ozzy. He was reluctant to try out, but Mrs. Rhoads talked him into it. “Randy, in the music business, it’s important to know people,” she had said. She believed that even if Randy didn’t make the gig, Ozzy could refer him in the future. After he was given some time to think, he decided he would give it a go. Randy quit Quiet Riot and in his spot came Carlos Cavaso. In 1983 Quiet Riot received a US record deal from Sony and their debut album, Metal Health, was the first heavy metal album to top the Billboard charts.

 

The Ozzy Years

When Randy came to the audition, he decided to warm-up. Legend has it that Ozzy gave him the job before Rhoads even played a note, though we can prove his is false. However, it is more likely based on what Randy said after the audition that Osbourne gave him the job during the warm-up. Randy said after the expirence, “He just said you’ve got the gig. I thought, ‘You didn’t even hear me yet.’” Frankie Banali even said, “The choice was obvious. It had to be Randy.”

            When Randy left America for Ozzy’s place in December of 1979, he met bassist Bob Daisley. Daisley remembers, “The first time we played together, Randy and I looked at each other, right at the same time – it was uncanny – and said ‘I like the way you play.’ We both said it right at the same time.” When it was time to choose a drummer, the band chose Kerslake.

            They began recording their first album, Blizzard Of Ozz, on March 20th at Ridge Farms studio. Max Norman, producer, remembers what Randy was like in the studio. “Randy was always very nervous in the studio. He was extremely careful about what he played. If there was one thing out, he would go back and do it again. That’s a really good policy, really.” By September the album had been released and the tour had started. This is when Randy received his custom white Flying V from Grover Jackson. Though the album was selling well, the Ozzy Osbourne Band was experiencing poor ticket sales.

            The group returned to Britian in 1981 to record the next classic album, Diary Of A Madman. It was released on Halloween, and all was well until Ozzy broke down from stress. The remaining UK shows were canceled, and the band had a one-month break until they started the tour in America.

Randy Rhoads was awarded “Best New Talent” in 1981 from Guitar Player Magazine. Randy originally thought they were joking. “I just couldn’t believe it,” he said. “Still don’t believe it. I’m really proud and honored and I don’t want to stop here.”

 The band began the US tour on December 30, 1981. The tour was a big hit, with a huge dungeon backdrop, pyrotechnics, and a giant hand that Ozzy walked from to reach the stage. This was also the tour that Ozzy’s most famous legend (where he bit off a bat’s head) was created. Everything was beginning to happen so quickly, and Randy felt he wasn’t having enough time to sort it all out. “There’s so much going on and there’s not enough time to do anything. I haven’t had time to sort everything out. Since I’ve started this, great things haven’t stopped happening. It just gets to the point where you don’t know how to handle good news anymore.” Randy began to want more and more with classical guitar, and this caused distance between him and Ozzy. He started thinking about leaving the band in February, just one month before the fatal accident occurred that took his life.

 

The Accident

An excerpt from Randy-Rhoads.com: “Approximately 9:00 a.m. on the morning of March 19th, Andrew Aycock took Rachel Youngblood and Randy Rhoads up for a few minutes. During this trip the plane began to fly low to the ground, at times below tree level, and "buzzed" the bands tour bus three times. On the fourth pass (banking to the left in a south-west direction) the planes left wing struck the left side of the bands tour bus (parked facing east) puncturing it in two places approximately half way down on the right side of the bus. The plane, with the exception of the left wing, was thrown over the bus, hit a nearby pine tree, severing it approximately 10 feet up from the bottom, before it crashed into the garage on the west side of the home owned by Jerry Calhoun. The plane was an estimated 10 feet off the ground traveling at approximately 120 - 150 knots during impact. The house was almost immediately engulfed in flames and destroyed by the crash and ensuing fire, as was the garage (pictured) and the two vehicles inside, an Oldsmobile and a Ford Granada. Jesse Herndon, who was inside the house during the impact, escaped with no injuries. The largest piece of the plane that was left was a wing section about 6 to 7 feet long. The very wing that caught the side of the tour bus, was deposited just to the north of the bus. The severed pine tree stood between the bus and the house.

Ozzy Osbourne, Tommy Aldrige, Rudy Sarzo and Sharon Arden, who were all asleep on the bus, were awoken by the planes impact and (at first) thought they had been involved in a traffic accident. Wanda Aycock had returned to the bus while keyboardist Don Airey stood outside and witnesses the accident, as did Marylee Morrison, who was riding her horse within sight of the estate. Two men, at the west end of the runway, witnessed the plane "buzzing" the area when the plane suddenly "went out of sight" as it crashed.

    Once outside of the bus the band members learned of the catastrophic event that had just taken place. The bus was moved approximately 300 feet to the east of the house that was engulfed in flames. The band checked into the Hilco Inn in Leesburg where they mourned the death of Randy and Rachel and would wait for family members to arrive. While Orlando's "Rock Super Bowl XIV", scheduled for later that day, was not canceled, the Ozzy Osbourne band would not play and the promoters offered refunds to all ticket holders.”

            It was later found that pilot Andrew Aycock had en expired license and a small amount of cocaine in his system. Randy’s drug results were negative, he was on nothing at the time of the accident.

   

The Legacy

Randy Rhoads was put to rest in San Bernadino, California. The Quiet Riot song Thunderbird is dedicated to Rhoads’ memory. In 1987, Ozzy decided to take out shelved tapes recorded at a live concert in 1981, and released them as a double-disc set called Tribute.  In 2004, Randy was inducted into Hollywood’s Rock Walk, and his guests included Ozzy & Sharon Osbourne, Zakk Wylde, and Yngwie Malamsteen. Many guitars players claim to be directly influenced by Randy, and those include Zakk Wylde, Buckethead, Yngwie Malmsteen, Jake E. Lee, Alexi Laiho, and Dimebag Darrell.

Randy's Hollywood Rock Walk Tile
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Discography:

Quiet Riot:

Quiet Riot I (1978)

Quiet Riot II (1979)

 

Ozzy Osbourne:

Blizzard Of Ozz (1980)

Diary Of A Madman (1981)

Tribute (Live) (Recorded 1981, Released 1987)

 

Highlights From His Carrer:

Laughing Gas (Instrumental from The Randy Rhoads Years)

Force Of Habit (The Randy Rhoads Years)

Killer Girls (Quiet Riot II)

Trouble (Quiet Riot II)

Crazy Train (Blizzard Of Ozz)

Mr. Crowley (Blizzard Of Ozz)

Dee (Acoustic Instrumental from Blizzard Of Ozz)

Flying High Again (Diary Of A Madman)

Diary Of A Madman (Diary Of A Madman)

I Don’t Know (Tribute)

Suicide Solution (Tribute)

 

References:

  • Wikipedia.com
  • Randy-Rhoads.com
  • Windowsmedia.com
  • The Randy Rhoads Years album booklet from Rhino Records
  • And of course the Only-Rock band pages Quiet Riot.

The monthly O-R Special is an Only-Rock exclusive and shall not be copied or used in any way or form.

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