This week rock fans remember legendary heavy metal guitarist Randy Rhoads. The calendar marks thirty-five years since his passing at the extraordinarily young age of 25.
Rhoads was different from many heavy metal guitarists of the time. The first reason being that he was classically trained and began taking folk lessons on the guitar around the age of 7. Some of Rhoads biggest influences were the likes of Mick Ronson, David Bowie’s guitarist, and Glen Buxton, the lead guitarist from the Alice Cooper Group. It’s been said that seeing Alice Cooper in 1971 was a life changing moment for Randy, and motivated him to take his talent to new levels that he had previously never thought possible.
One of Rhoads first bands was what became known as Quiet Riot. Before the band featured members like Kevin Dubrow and Frank Banali, it was initially known as Little Women. It included Kelly Garni, a longtime friend of Randy’s from his middle school days. Quiet Riot at the time became known as one of the biggest bands on the LA scene, but due to their lack of ability to get a record deal, Randy accepted the offer to join forces with Ozzy Osbourne, who was coming onto the rock scene for the first time as a solo act. Rhoads produced some of the most recognizable guitar riffs of the time period, and helped created one of Ozzy’s biggest albums, Blizzard of Ozz (1980). The album included hits such as as: “Crazy Train”, “Mr. Crowley”, “I Don’t Know”, and many more. Rhoads was given much more freedom with Osbourne than he had previously, and he used his classical training to his advantage.
He almost left the band in 1981 due to the fact that he wanted to pursue a degree in classic guitar, but he had finally started to achieve recognition for his music. Rhoads was even granted with a signature model by Jackson Guitars, the Jackson Randy Rhoads. The guitar was sadly put into production after Rhoads death, but is used today for Jackson’s line of Randy Rhoads guitars.
Rhoads lost his life all too soon in a plane crash on March 19th, 1982. His last show was the night before at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum. After accepting an offer for a plane ride with tour bus driver and pilot Andrew Aycock, they decided it’d be a good idea to “buzz” around the tour bus, which was stopped due to an air conditioning malfunction that needed to be fixed. Rhoads lost his life when one of the wings of the plane clipped the top of the parked tour bus, causing the aircraft to spiral out of control. Rhoads along with Aycock and makeup artist Rachel Youngblood died instantly.
To this day, Randy Rhoads’ insane solos and unfathomable musicianship captivates the ears of many rock ‘n’ roll fans. There is no feeling to describe what it’s like listening to the solos on “Crazy Train” for the first time and discovering the talent that he possessed. He was without a doubt taken too soon, and it can only be imagined what he’d be doing with that guitar if he were still here.
We miss you, Randy. You may be gone, but you will truly never be forgotten.
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