1956 – Randy Rhoads, a guitar god of a different stripe with Ozzy Osbourne’s

Randy Rhoads

1956 – Randy Rhoads, a guitar god of a different stripe with Ozzy Osbourne’s band, is born in Santa Monica, Calif.

Randall William “Randy” Rhoads (December 6, 1956 – March 19, 1982) 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.

Biography

Early life

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)”.

Quiet Riot

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 (rehearsing during the day at Rodney Bingenheimer’s English Disco, a famous ’70s Hollywood nightspot), spending 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.

Career with Ozzy Osbourne

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.

Death
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.

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.

Equipment

Guitars

* 1975 Cream Gibson Les Paul Custom
* Black Gibson Les Paul Custom
* Karl Sandoval Polka Dot Flying V
* White Jackson Randy Rhoads w. black pinstripes
* Black Jackson Randy Rhoads
* Guild 12 string acoustic
* Early 60s Fender Stratocaster
* Gibson Firebird 12 string electric guitar
* Martin 6&12 string acoustics

Effects

* VOX 847 Wah Wah pedal
* MXR Distortion plus
* MXR 10 band equalizer
* MXR Stereo flanger
* MXR Stereo chorus
* Maestro Phase Shifter
* Maestro Echoplex
* Roland FV-300H Volume Pedal

Amplifiers

* Marshall vintage Super Lead Plexi 100w amp heads (2)
* Marshall 4×12 White cabinets with Altec Lansing speakers (2)
* Marshall 4×12 Black cabinets with Altec Lansing speakers (2)
* Marshall Plexi MKII Super Lead 100 watt amp (modded with cascade mod)
* Ampeg 4×12 cabinet with Altec Lansing speakers
* Peavey standard 130 watt amp
* Fender Harvard 1×12 amp

Posthumous achievements

In 1987, five years after Rhoads’ death, Osbourne released Tribute, the only official album featuring Osbourne and Rhoads playing together in concert. Most of the album is a live performance from Cleveland, Ohio, recorded on May 11, 1981. Also used in the recording was Rhoads’ guitar solo from a show in Montreal, Canada, recorded on July 28, 1981. That whole show had been broadcast on WMMS, and the King Biscuit Flower Hour, from which it became an extremely popular and fast selling bootleg. The songs “Goodbye to Romance” and “No Bone Movies” from the Tribute album were recorded on the UK Blizzard of Ozz tour at Southampton, on the same date as the Mr. Crowley EP.

Randy was inducted into the Guitar Center Rock Walk (on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood, CA), on March 18, 2004. Guests included Delores Rhoads, Kelle Rhoads, Rudy Sarzo, Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, Zakk Wylde and Yngwie Malmsteen. In a 2006 Guitar World article, it was mentioned that Rhoads’ last name was mistakenly spelled “Rhodes” on his plaque, and by the time it was discovered, there was not enough time to correct the mistake. It has since been fixed.

As a tribute to Rhoads, Marshall Amplification released the 1959RR at NAMM 2008. The amp is a limited-edition all-white Marshall Super Lead 100 watt head modeled after Randy’s own Super Lead amp. Marshall engineers looked extensively at Rhoads’ actual amplifier and made the 1959RR to those exact specifications, right down to the special high-gain modification Randy specifically requested when he visited the Marshall factory in 1980.

Honors

* Voted “Best New Talent” by the readers of Guitar Player magazine in December 1981
* Voted “Best Heavy Metal Guitarist” by the readers of UK-based Sounds magazine in December 1981
* Placed 85th on Rolling Stone Magazine’s 100 Greatest Guitarists.
* Placed 4th on Guitar World Magazine’s 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists.
* Crazy Train and Mr. Crowley placed 9th and 28th respectivley on Guitar World’s 100 Greatest Guitar Solos readers poll.
* Named one of the fastest guitar players in Guitar World’s 50 Fastest Guitarists list.
* “Crazy Train” placed 51 in Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time” list.

Influence
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Despite his youth and relatively limited recorded work, Rhoads has influenced many notable guitar players including: Zakk Wylde,

Discography

With Quiet Riot

* Quiet Riot (1977)
* Quiet Riot II (1978)

With Ozzy Osbourne

* Blizzard of Ozz (1980)
* Diary of a Madman (1981)
* Tribute (1987)

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