On December 6, 1956, in Santa Monica, California, a legendary guitarist was born by the name of Randy Rhoads. Rhoads started folk and classical guitar lessons at the age seven at his mother's music school and he became interested in rock guitar and began lessons with Scott Shelly. Later during the time of lessons, Shelly approached Rhoads' mother to acknowledge her that he could no longer teach her Randy, as his knowledge on guitar had exceeded his own.
Rhoads met future bandmate Kelly Garni attending middle school in Burbank, California, and they became best friends. Rhoads taught Garni how to play bass guitar, and they formed a band called The Whore, rehearsing at Rodney Bingenheimer's English Disco, a nightspot in Hollywood during the 1970s. Rhoads learned to play lead guitar at that time and Rhoads spent several months playing backyard parties around Los Angeles in the mid-1970s.
Garni and Rhoads later created a cover band, Violet Fox, with his brother Kelle on drums. Violet Fox was banded for about five months, staged several performances at the Grand Salon at Musonia and they dissolved and Rhoads went on to create many more groups that later on failed.
With Garni and Rhoads still working together, they developed better in musical ways when given bootleg recordings of live concerts. One of which was Alice Cooper's 1971 tape that was to be the start of the riff-roaring Randy Rhoads. Listening to the tapes and memorizing licks and riffs, he developed his own style by influence of Alice Cooper, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones with Mick Romson and Glen Buxton of Alice Cooper who were two rock influences on Rhoads' playing and his biggest influences as a guitarist were Leslie West, Ritchie Blackmore, Michael Schenker, Gary Moore, Charlie Christian, and John Williams.
At age 16, Rhoads and Garni developed the band Little Women with vocalist Kevin DuBrow and drummer Drew Forsyth. All part of Burbank High California. Soon after graduation, they then changed their name to Quiet Riot.
Kevin DuBrow who was just a photographer at the time was not really liked by his bandmates, but persisted that he'd still be a part of them. Later in their graduation year, Quiet Riot became an L.A sensation of hard rock music in 1976. With a big fan base in L.A their first two albums, Quiet Riot and Quiet Riot II were only released in Japan. Garni and DuBrow still having high tension, Rhoads was forced to fire his long time friend Garni after he had made a threat to shoot DuBrow during the making of their second album.
In 1979, ex-Black Sabbath vocalist Ozzy Osbourne came in Los Angeles trying to form a new band. An acquaintance of Rhoads' from the L.A club circuit, future Slaughter bassist Dana Strum, called Rhoads to invite him for auditioning. Rhoads told Quiet Riot bassist Rudy Sarzo that he was not really interested in auditioning, but agreed to make Strum stop calling him. Rhoads got a call for the audition before his final show with Quiet Riot in 1979. The day before Osbourne was to return to England, Rhoads agreed to audition for Ozzy.
Rhoads had trouble getting to England when he didn't have proper paperwork to enter England, so he was put in a holding cell and then forced to go back to The States. He was then given another chance to come back as Ozzy has called him to give it another shot. Behold, Rhoads did make it.
After some searching for a drummer former Uriah Heep drummer Lee Kerslake came in and they were then known as The Blizzard of Ozz. The group headed to the studio to record their debut album, Blizzard of Ozz. Rhoads' musical talent had changed due to the freedom allowed by Osbourne and Daisley. His work with Quiet Riot had been criticized saying it was "dull" and did not have classical scales or arrangements. Propelled, Blizzard of Ozz proved to be an instant hit with crowds especially in the US.
In 1981, Rhoads was considered to be one of the "Best New Talent" in a magazine called, Guitar Players, after releasing a second album titled, Diary Of A Madman. Kerslake and Daisley were then fired by Sharon Arden, the manager and to be future Mrs. Osbourne. Rhoads was considering at the time to leave the band to get a degree at UCLA for classical guitar. With Ozzy's drinking and drug use, Rhoads didn't really want to deal with it, but he also didn't want to screw over the band because of his ideals. In the end after much debate, Rhoads stayed, but later regreted it after having to cancel shows and tours because Ozzy and his friends were high and drunk. It was when they were to be in Canada to record an album, Rhoads and to-be M.A.R.S and Whitesnake drummer, Tommy Aldridge, realized they were taking a step back both musically and professionally when learning they were to only do covers on the new album. But tragedy would soon arise when Rhoads and Ozzy had a dispute.
On a bus ride during their tour in the winter of 1982, Rhoads and Ozzy had a fight when Rhoads confronted Ozzy about his drunkeness and drug addiction. With no way to settle the situation or mend the strained relationship, Rhoads decided to go separately on a plane while Ozzy and the rest of the band stayed on the bus. Rhoads and makeup artist Rachel Youngblood took to the air as bus driver and private pilot, Andrew Aycock took a plane without permission and carried Rhoads with Youngblood. Rhoads tried to convince Aldridge and Sarzo to join him, but they decided not to so they could get some sleep.
At the time, Aycock was buzzed by cocaine and drove the plane into the road hitting the tour bus and causing Rhoads, Youngblood and Aycock to go head first into the plane windshield. Becoming out of control, the plane spiraled, crashed into a nearby garage and errupted in flames leaving no survivors.
At the age of 25 Rhoads' funeral was at the First Lutheran Church in Burbank, California. Serving as pallbearer were Osbourne, Aldridge, Sarzo, and Rhoads' former bandmate DuBrow. Rhoads was buried at Mountain View Cemetery in San Bernardino, California and with his tomb is the inscription "An inspiration for all young people".
Brougth onto Earth: December 6, 1956
Passage to Heaven: March 19, 1982
Awards, Medals, Recognitions
1981 "Best New Talent" in Guitar Player magazine.
1993 Quiet Riot released an album The Randy Rhoads Years as a tribute.
34th on Rolling Stones magazine for "Top 100 Guitar Players" 4th for "Best 100 Heavy Metal Guitarists" in Guitar World magazine and 26th in Guitar World magazine for "Top 50 Fastest Guitar Players".
Signature Jackson guitar model that was to be intended for Randy Rhoads.
As a tribute to Rhoads, Marshall Amplification released the 1959RR at NAMM 2008. The amp is a limited-edition Marshall Super Lead 100-watt head modeled after Rhoads' own Super Lead amp.
In April 2011, author Joel McIver published Rhoads biography, Crazy Train: The High Life and Tragic Death of Randy Rhoads with a foreword by Zakk Wylde and afterword by Yngwie Malmsteen. In 2012, Velocity Publishing Group created a Rhoads biography written by Steven Rosen and Andrew Klein.
In 2011, the 30th anniversary of The Blizzard of Oz had a reissue with Randy Rhoads' famous guitar solo, "R&R".
Rhoads' mother, Delores, created the Randy Rhoads Scholarship Endowment at California State University, Northridge that is an annual scholarships to guitar students.
January 18, 2017, Rhoads was inducted into the Hall of Heavy Metal History.
Randy Rhoads quote
"There's no reason for a guitarist to have a big ego. You should love the instrument more than wanting to be a rockstar."
Author Notes: May one of the best guitarists rest peacefully.