Remembering Randy Rhoads (December 6, 1956 – March 19, 1982)

Born in 1956 to a very musically inclined family, it wasn’t a question if Randy Rhoads would be a musician. Starting at the age of seven Rhoads started playing and taking guitar lessons at his Mother’s music school. Eventually the very advanced Rhoads started giving lessons, which he continued until he got the gig of lead guitar in Ozzy Osbourne’s new band, The Blizzard of Ozz. All though Rhoads was a teacher he always thought of himself as a student, as he continued studying classical guitar and taking classical guitar lessons. At the time of his death it is said that Rhoads wanted to study music at U.C.L.A.  Tragically he never got the chance.

When Rhoads got to Ozzy’s band he was no newcomer to the stage. Starting in 1970 Rhoads played with the groups Violet Fox, and then Quiet Riot starting around 1976. It is said when Quiet Riot would perform the audience would not be around the lead singer but, Rhoads who would be dressed in a velvet vest and a polka-dot bow tie.  Rhoads was a showman through and through as evident in the video of his live guitar solo from his Quiet Riot days Laughing Gas.” This solo also previewed a number of riffs that would later be featured in recordings during his tenure as Osbourne’s guitarist.

In 1980 Ozzy Osbourne’s fortunes had taken a turn for the worse, he had been fired from Black Sabbath. After spending countless months in a hotel room drinking and drugging, Osbourne, Dana Strumm, and future wife Sharon Arden set out to form a new group. The new group was to be called, Blizzard of Ozz and be a four piece. Rhoads reluctantly auditioned, as he was not a Black Sabbath fan but, he got the job. Eventually The Blizzard of Ozz retreated to the Ridge Farm Studio where they recorded Blizzard of Ozz.

The record was released in September of that year. It consisted of nine blistering tracks including “I Don’t Know,” “Crazy Train,” and “Mr. Crowley” which later became staples of Osbourne’s live show. The album also featured the song “Dee,” a short classical piece inspired by Rhoad’s mother Delores. The album featured bassist Bob Daisley and drummer Lee Kerslake. The album reached number 21 on the Billboard chart and reached Multi-Platinum level sales.

Shortly after the release of Blizzard, Arden got the group to go into the studio to record what was to become Diary of a Madman. Rhoads put on another tremendous performance when recording Diary enhancing his virtuoso image and showcasing his raw talent. Tracks from the record including “Over the Mountain” and “Flying High Again” where released as singles but, the most notable track of the album was the title track. Even though Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake played on the record, they were not featured on the album artwork. Instead pictured and credited were bassist Rudy Sarzo and drummer Tommy Aldridge. The album was released in November of 1981 and went platinum in the U.S. by the following May. Unfortunately Rhoads was not able to receive this honor.

Thirty years ago today Randy Rhoads was killed, when the plane he was riding in crashed into a private home in Leesburg, Florida. The plane was piloted by the tour bus driver Andrew Aycock. Aycock had two passengers on board, Rhoads and hairdresser Rachel Youngblood. He was joyriding when the wing of the plane hit the side of Osbourne’s tour bus and crashed into a pine tree and finally collided into a garage of a house near the airport. Rhoads was only 25.

In the two years Rhoads toured and recorded with the Blizzard of Ozz, he did more than most people do in a lifetime. His guitar playing took the instrument to a whole new level of proficiency. His sound and technicality was emulated by multiple generations of guitarists.  On this day we remember Randy Rhoads not only as a musician but, a caring human being that thought he could learn something from everyone, especially his students.

-B. Harlow

Solo Starts at 2:28

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