When most people speak of amazing guitarists, the names of Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, and Jimmy Page are part of the conversation. While these axmen certainly are worthy to be remembered in such a way, there are others that were just as good or better that do not get the recognition they truly deserve. One such example can be found on the album-Blizzard of Ozz- that launched the solo career of Ozzy Osbourne. Just as important as the Ozzman himself was the guitarist that made the album such a sucess and helped create the most famous opening riff of all time-Randy Rhoads.
Randall William Rhoads was born on December 6, 1956 to William and Delores Rhoads. When Rhoads was seventeen months old, his father left his mother, leaving her to raise Randy and his brother Doug and sister Cathy. While this unquestionably changed the Randy's life, he kept in touch with his father right up to his untimely death in 1982. The future axman strated playing guitar at the age of six or seven at Musonia, a music school in Northern Hollywood that was and still is owned by his mother. Randy's mother wanted him to take piano lessons so that he could learn to read music, but those lessons didn't last very long as Randy had already taken and interest in the rock guitar. Delores had an oldsemi-acoustic Harmony Rocket, which she said that at that time was "almost larger than he was"
. Randy took lessons from Scott Shelly, a guitar instructor at his mother's school. However in less than a year Shelly was forced to explain to Delores that he could no longer teach Randy anything because Rhoads had mastered everything Shelly could teach him.But at the age of 11, Rhoads had already met Kelly Garni, the guy who was to be his best friend. Garni recalls the meeting, "Randy dressed different and he was small. He was artful looking and not athletic-looking what so ever. You could tell he was artistic and very introspective and just all in all different. That is what attracted me to him. One day I just walked up to him and said ‘hey, how ya doin?' After that we just started talking and hanging out together. I started going over to his house. It was immediately clear that his family was very musical. At that time, Randy knew his guitar chords already and was just starting to learn his leads."
The two friends stared playing shows whereever they could find a gig. They also played with "The Six Musionians", which were some of Delores's top students at the school. Over the Years Randy and Kelly played in various bands, including Violet Fox, a group Rhoads named after his mother( her middle name is Violet), before forming the band that would give the world their first taste of the great axman-Quiet Riot
Randy and Kelly were visiting their friend Hillary one day when, acording to Garni, they herd about a singer Kevin Dubrow. "She was talking on the phone to one of her girlfriends about some singer named Kevin. I was like, ”singer? Kevin? Who is this guy?”. So, I thought that I would give the girl the third degree and find out some more information on this singer named Kevin. Hillary said that he looked like Rod Stewart, though she had never heard him sing. She didn't know much about him and so she just gave me his phone number so that I could call him myself. Randy and I called him and spoke to him about what we were looking for. We wanted to check him out and so we went over to his house and took a look at him. Our first thought was that he looked pretty geeky. We didn't see a whole lot of potential there! Randy and I just sort of looked at each other and rolled our eyes. We immediately started looking for a way to get out of there!
But, Kevin was very persistent We would try avoiding him though he would keep calling us. We reluctantly had him come over to Randys house one day. We went into Randys garage and jammed with Kevin. Kevin was just horrible! Randy and I looked at each other and basically weren't too suprised. We knew that. After that, he still would not leave us alone. He kept calling and asking ”well, when is our band going to play? When are we going to rehearse?”. We would make up excuse after excuse. We would say things like we had a cold , or one of the amps was blown up, or there was no where to play. He just wouldn't give up though and kept calling. So, we finally just gave up and said, ”well, let's see what we can do with him”. We started working on his singing and gave him a few pointers.
As time went on he actually became a very good singer. He was eventually acceptable and once he was definitely in the band, he took over everything. He ran the whole show. It was fine with Randy and I because up until then I was the one doing everything. He took over us getting a manager, running the band, finding us a place to rehearse, finding us a gig. He was a business man through and through. We just kind of said, ”well, okay. He certainly justifies his involvement here”. It was cool. There was obviously no getting rid of him! We were stuck with him! That was it! He wasn't going anywhere! Our drummer Drew Forsyth was one of the drummers that we had used through the years. We had decided to permanently bring him into the project. We were then, Quiet Riot."
"Kevin came up with the name Quiet Riot. As I recall he heard a guy say that if he ever had a band, he would call it Quiet Riot. He shouldn't have said that in front of Kevin because Kevin said ”I'm going to have a band and I am going to call it Quiet Riot!”. So, he did. That same guy is probably going, ”wow, you know I said that once. Now it's a big name!
Quiet Riot played a few shows over the next few years and even releasing two albums in Japan, but soon the now famous band would loose their amzing guitarist to a former front man that would turn rock n' roll on its head.
In 1979, Ozzy Osbourne was fired from the band Black Sabbath. While Randy never took a liking to Sabbath, his mother saw this as an opportunity to help Rhoads advance it the the music buisiness.Randy went down to the studio with Ozzy where he thought he "was going to go play with a band. I met him at a recording studio and I had just brought a tune up amp. If you've ever been in a recording studio, they have the glass booths up there. Well, through the tune up amp, no effects or nothing, straight through that and mic'd, they were all listening and said ‘ok, play.' You've got to be joking. What can I play? I didn't know what to do so I just started warming up and he said ‘Yea you're good.' I had only played for a couple seconds, and then I got kind of mad cause I thought, ‘You haven't even heard me yet.'” Ozzy, who decribed Randy's ax work as "God entering into my life", took Rhoads to Englang where they formed the band Blizzard of Ozz with former Rainbow bassist Bab Daisley and ex-Uriah Heep drummer Lee Kerslake. Recording their first album at Ridge Farm Studios, the band created the song "Crazy Train", an anthem that showed the world just what metal coull be. A year the band releases the album Diary of A Madman, which achieved platnium certification by the RIAA. However Randy would never know how sucessful front-man Ozzy would truly become. On March 18, 1982, at 9:00 p.m., Randy Rhoads was killed in a plane crash and was laid to rest in San Bernadino, Califoria.
However the spirit of Randy Rhoads would never die. Today the ever famous "Crazy Train" intro is played all across the world and is known and recognized by music fans of all ages. I remember my sophmore year in high school, the jazz band played a recruiting show for the forth grade. When our director asked for questions one boy asked "The song 'Crazy Train' was by Ozzy Osbourne wasn't it?" I was amazed that he even knew who Ozzy was. Sometimes I think where the Ozzman would be if it wasn't for Randy. Weather Randy Rhoads ever recieves the recognition he truly deserves or not, his spirit will forever be heard every time an Ozzy song is played and the famouse intro is heard.