Randy Rhoads PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 02 December 2008 14:44

Randy Rhoads

Randall William "Randy" Rhoads

Born: December 6, 1956 Santa Monica, California, USA

Died: March 19, 1982, Leesburg, Florida, USA

Age: 25

Cause of death: Plane crash

Notable because: Guitarist with Ozzy Osborne, died in plane crash when pilot tried to buzz the tour bus, clipped it with a wing and crashed.

 

Randy Rhoads was an American heavy metal guitarist who played with Ozzy Osbourne and Quiet Riot. Despite his short career, he is cited as an influence by many contemporary heavy metal guitarists. A devoted student of classical guitar, Rhoads often combined his classical music influences with his own heavy metal style. While on tour with Ozzy Osbourne, he would often seek out classical guitar tutors for lessons.

Rhoads was born on December 6, 1956 at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California. He was the youngest of three children. His older brother, Doug, who goes by the name of Kelle Rhoads, is a drummer and vocalist who also arranges classical compositions. His sister's name is Kathy.

When Randy was 17 months old, his father, William Arthur Rhoads, left his mother, but he stayed in touch with Randy even up until his son's death. Delores Rhoads, and the three children. Mrs. Rhoads has owned and operated the Musonia School of Music in North Hollywood, California since 1949. Rhoads started playing guitar at age 7 on his grandfather's old Gibson "Army-Navy" classical acoustic guitar. According to Rhoads' mother, he learned to play folk guitar, which was a popular way to learn guitar at the time, although he did not take lessons for very long. Rhoads was always evolving toward a hard rock/metal lead guitar style, but he was heavily influenced by classical music as well. This can be heard on Ozzy Osbourne tracks like "Dee" (an instrumental he named for his mother Delores), "Mr. Crowley", "Diary of a Madman", "You Can't Kill Rock And Roll", "Crazy Train" and "Revelation (Mother Earth)".

At the age of 14 Rhoads formed a cover band called Violet Fox (after his mother's middle name, Violet), with his older brother Kelle on drums. Violet Fox staged several performances in the "Grand Salon" at Musonia, Delores Rhoads' music school. Among their setlist was "Mississippi Queen" by Mountain, as well as songs from The Rolling Stones, Alice Cooper, and David Bowie. After the dissolution of Violet Fox, Rhoads taught his best friend Kelly Garni how to play bass, and together they formed a band called The Whore (who rehearsed during the day at Rodney Biggenheimer's English Disco, a famous '70s Hollywood nightspot), who spent several months playing at backyard parties around Los Angeles. Together the pair went on to form Quiet Riot when Rhoads was about 17 (according to Rhoads' mother). Kevin DuBrow auditioned for vocalist in Rhoads' kitchen after he convinced Rhoads and Garni to give him a chance. The drummer, Drew Forsyth, was already in the picture and had periodically played with Rhoads and Garni in the past.

Quiet Riot initially played in small bars in Hollywood and local parties in Burbank, eventually playing at the two main L.A. music clubs of the day — the Whisky a Go Go, and The Starwood. While the band had a strong following in the L.A. club scene, they were unable to secure a major recording contract in the United States. Eventually, however, the band was able to land a record deal with Japanese label CBS/Sony Records and Quiet Riot and Quiet Riot II were released in Japan.

In 1979, ex-Black Sabbath singer Ozzy Osbourne was forming a new band. Future Slaughter bassist Dana Strum recommended Rhoads to Osbourne. Rhoads got the call for the audition just before his final show with Quiet Riot. He walked in with his Les Paul guitar and a practice amp and started warming up; Osbourne immediately gave him the job. Rhoads recalled later, "I just tuned up and did some riffs, and he said, 'You've got the gig.' I had the weirdest feeling, because I thought, 'You didn't even hear me yet.'" Osbourne described Rhoads' playing as "God entering my life." Rhoads subsequently recommended his friend Greg Leon, who also taught guitar at Musonia for Rhoads' mother, to replace him in Quiet Riot, and then departed for the UK to write and record with Osbourne in November 1979.

The band, then known as the Blizzard of Ozz, headed into the studio to record the band's debut album, which would also be called Blizzard of Ozz. Rhoads' guitar playing had changed due to the level of freedom allowed by Ozzy and Bob Daisley and he was encouraged to play what he wanted. His work with Quiet Riot has been criticized as being "dull" and did not rely on classical scales or arrangements. Propelled by Rhoads' neo-classical guitar work, the album proved an instant hit with rock fans, particularly in the USA. They released two singles from the album: "Mr. Crowley" and the hit "Crazy Train". The British tour of 1980-81 for Blizzard of Ozz was with Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake. After the UK tour, the band wrote another LP before the US Blizzard of Ozz tour. But before the US Blizzard tour, both Lee Kerslake and Bob Daisley were fired by Sharon Osbourne. For the US Blizzard tour, Tommy Aldridge and Rudy Sarzo were hired. Diary of a Madman was released soon after Blizzard of Ozz in October 1981, and since Kerslake and Daisley were already out of the band, Aldridge and Sarzo's photos appear on the album sleeve. This was the source of many future court battles.

Around this time Rhoads remarked to Osbourne, fellow Ozz bandmates Tommy Aldridge and Rudy Sarzo, and friend Kelly Garni that he was considering leaving rock for a few years to earn a degree in classical guitar. In the documentary Don't Blame Me, Osbourne confirmed Randy's desire to earn the degree and stated that had he lived, he didn't believe Randy would have stayed in his band. Friend and ex-Quiet Riot bassist Kelly Garni has stated in interviews that if Randy had continued to play rock, he might have gone the route of more keyboard-driven rock, which had become very popular through the 1980s.

It was at this time that Rhoads was beginning to receive recognition for his playing. Just before his death Jackson Guitars created a signature model, the Jackson Randy Rhoads or Randy Rhoads Pro (though it was recommended to be called the Jackson Concorde). Randy received two prototypes — one in black and one in white — but died before the guitar went into production. Rhoads also received the Best New Talent award from Guitar Player.


Rhoads' tomb, San Bernardino, California

Randy Rhoads' last show was played on Thursday March 18, 1982 at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum in Knoxville, Tennessee. On March 19, 1982, the band was headed to a festival in Orlando, Florida. After driving much of the night, they stopped at the house of Jerry Calhoun, the bus company's owner, in Leesburg, Florida. The driver, Andrew Aycock, took Rhoads and hairdresser Rachel Youngblood on a flight in a Beechcraft Bonanza he had taken without permission. Apparently, during the flight, a few attempts were made to "buzz" the tour bus where the other band members were sleeping. They succeeded two times but the third was a botched attempt. The right wing clipped the left side of the tour bus by accident, leading to the crash of the plane into Calhoun's nearby mansion, completely destroying the garage. Nobody in the home was hurt. Rhoads, age 25, was killed instantly, as were Aycock, 36, and Youngblood, 58. It was later revealed in an autopsy that Aycock's system showed traces of cocaine at the time; Rhoads' toxicology test revealed no illicit drugs. The NTSB investigation also determined that Aycock's medical certificate was expired and that the biennial flight review required for all pilots was overdue.

Randy's funeral was held at the First Lutheran Church in Burbank, CA. He is interred at Mountain View Cemetery in San Bernardino, California where his grandparents are also buried.

 

Last Updated on Friday, 22 June 2012 08:00
 

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