Randall William "Randy" Rhoads (December 6, 1956 – March 19, 1982) was an American heavy metal guitarist who played with Ozzy Osbourne and Quiet Riot. A devoted student of classical guitar, Rhoads combined his classical music influences with his own heavy metal style. Despite his short career, Rhoads is a major influence on neo-classical metal, is cited as an influence by many guitarists, and is included in several "Greatest Guitarist" lists.
At age 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, and 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 1970s Hollywood nightspot), spending several months playing at backyard parties around Los Angeles.
Together the pair went on to form Quiet Riot when Rhoads was 16. Kevin DuBrow auditioned for vocalist in Rhoads' kitchen after he convinced Rhoads and Garni to give him a chance, although DuBrow once said he 'auditioned once and got the gig'. The drummer Drew Forsyth, 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. The band was able to land a record deal with Japanese label CBS/Sony Records. Quiet Riot and Quiet Riot II were released in Japan.
In 1979, Black Sabbath singer Ozzy Osbourne was forming a new band. During an interview with Raw Power Magazine editors Robert Olshever, Murray Schwartz and Scott Stephens (future singer of Liquid Blue), Ozzy mentioned he was looking for a new guitar player. Randy's name was suggested during the interview and the next day Robert asked friend and future Slaughter bassist Dana Strum to try to reach Randy to see if he was interested. 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 was drunk and passed out during the audition, but 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, titled 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 recorded another LP, but before the US Blizzard tour both Lee Kerslake and Bob Daisley were fired by Sharon Arden, Ozzy's future wife. For the US Blizzard tour, Tommy Aldridge and Rudy Sarzo were hired. Diary of a Madman was released soon after in October 1981, and since Kerslake and Daisley were already out of the band, Aldridge and Sarzo's photos appear on the album sleeve. Disputes over royalties performance, and other intellectual property rights became a source of future court battles. "You Said it All" and "You Looking at Me, Looking at You" became rare collector's items, only released on the B-Sides of singles. A live album, Tribute, mainly drawn from a performance in Cleveland, Ohio, was released in 1987 and included live versions of "Goodbye to Romance" and "No Bone Movies", recorded in the UK with Daisley and Kerslake in 1980.
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 at UCLA. In the documentary Don't Blame Me, Osbourne confirmed Randy's desire to earn the degree and stated that had he lived, he did not 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 (though Randy had originally called his white pinstriped V "the Concorde"). Randy received one prototype – a black offset V hardtail which is the base for today's RR line of Jackson guitars – but died before the guitar went into production. Rhoads also received the Best New Talent award from Guitar Player magazine. While on tour with Ozzy Osbourne, Rhoads would seek out classical guitar tutors for lessons.
Randy Rhoads played his last show on Thursday, March 18, 1982 at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum. The next day, the band was heading to a festival in Orlando, Florida. After driving much of the night, they stopped on the property belonging to Jerry Calhoun, owner of "Florida Coach," in Leesburg, Florida. On it, there was a small airstrip lined with small helicopters and planes, and two houses. One of the houses belonged to the tour bus driver Andrew Aycock, and the other was owned by Calhoun. Aycock, a licensed pilot, talked the band's keyboardist Don Airey, into taking a test flight with him in a '55 Beechcraft Bonanza. By some accounts the manager Jake Duncan, was also on this first flight. The joyride ended and the plane landed safely. Then Aycock took Rhoads and hairdresser/seamstress Rachel Youngblood on another flight. Rhoads was persuaded to go on the second flight, despite his fear of flying.
Though he resented flying, Rhoads apparently agreed to go for two reasons: the seamstress had a heart condition so Aycock agreed to do nothing risky, and Rhoads wanted to take an aerial photo as one of his hobbies was photography. During the second flight, attempts were made to "buzz" the tour bus where the other band members were sleeping. They succeeded twice, but the third attempt was botched. The left wing clipped the back side of the tour bus, tore the fiberglass roof then sent the plane spiraling. The plane severed the top of a pine tree and crashed into the garage of a nearby mansion, bursting into flames. Rhoads was killed instantly, as were Aycock (36) and Youngblood (58). All three bodies were burned beyond recognition, and were identified by dental records and Rhoads' jewelry.
It was later revealed in an autopsy that Aycock's system showed traces of cocaine at the time. Rhoads' toxicology test revealed only nicotine. The NTSB investigation determined that Aycock's medical certificate had expired and that his biennial flight review, required for all pilots, was overdue. In Ozzy Osbourne's autobiography, I Am Ozzy, he writes that the night of Rhoads' death, he told his wife, Sharon: "I don't think I want to be a rock 'n' roller anymore." Rhoads' funeral was held at the First Lutheran Church in Burbank, California. He is interred at Mountain View Cemetery in San Bernardino, California, where his grandparents are also buried.
In 1987, five years after Rhoads' death, Osbourne released Tribute, the only official album featuring Osbourne and Rhoads performing together in concert. Most of the album is a live performance from Cleveland, Ohio. The songs "Goodbye to Romance" and "No Bone Movies" from the Tribute album were recorded on the UK Blizzard of Ozz tour at Southampton, the same date as the Mr. Crowley EP. In 1993, Rhino records released "Quiet Riot The Randy Rhoads years." The album featured several tracks from the first two Japanese only released Quiet Riot albums. It also included the previously unreleased tracks "Last Call for Rock n' Roll" and "Breaking up is a Heartache." The album was produced, in part, by "Kevin Dubrow" and features several photos from Randy's time in Quiet Riot, including those from live performances. Randy was inducted into the Guitar Center Rock Walk on March 18, 2004. 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, it was too late 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.
Jackson Guitars released an exact replica of Randy's original white "shortwing" V. Randy's original guitar was handled, photographed, and measured extensively by Jackson's luthiers to produce the most precise replica possible. The guitar comes with black gaffer's tape covering the top wing and the back of the guitar, just like Randy's. Only 60 of the guitars were manufactured, each with the symbolic price tag of $12,619.56 which is Rhoads' birthday. In 2010, Gibson Guitars announced a new custom shop signature guitar modeled after Rhoads' 1974 Les Paul Custom. In April 2011, author Joel McIver announced the publication of the first fully comprehensive Rhoads biography, "Crazy Train: The High Life and Tragic Death of Randy Rhoads", with a foreword written by Zakk Wylde and an afterword by Yngwie Malmsteen. In June 2012, Velocity Publishing Group announced a comprehensive Randy Rhoads biography, written by Steven Rosen and Andrew Klein, and containing over 400 pages of material.
May 31, 2011 marked the 30-year anniversary and re-master/release of Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman. Both albums have been remastered and restored to their original state with Bob Daisley's bass and Lee Kerslake's drums intact. Blizzard has 3 bonus tracks – "You, Looking at Me, Looking at You", "Goodbye to Romance" (2010 Vocal & Guitar Mix), and "RR" (Randy Rhoads in-studio guitar solo). Originally, Diary was to include long fade out versions of "You Can't Kill Rock and Roll", "Tonight", and "Diary of a Madman" (2010 Re-mix version), but were not included in the re-issue. The Legacy version of Diary of a Madman includes a second CD called Ozzy Live which includes the unreleased Blizzard of Ozz tour '81 recorded from many performances with at least one song (Flying High Again) taken from Montreal, Canada (July 1981 and was originally broadcast on the King Biscuit Flower Hour radio show). The live show features the same line up as the Tribute album – Rudy Sarzo on bass, Tommy Aldridge on drums and Lindsey Bridgewater on keyboards. Also included exclusively in the special box set are the 180 gram vinyl versions of the original albums, an expansive 100-page coffee table book and the DVD – Thirty Years After the Blizzard, which includes unreleased Randy Rhoads video footage.
Despite his youth and limited recorded work, Randy Rhoads is considered by Rolling Stone Magazine to be one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Rhoads has been on the covers of many guitar magazines and has influenced many guitar players, including Yngwie Malmsteen, Dimebag Darrell, Frank Hannon, Doug Aldrich, John 5, Steve Vai, Jake E. Lee, Zakk Wylde, Michael Romeo, John Petrucci, Tom Morello, Joe Holmes, Neal Grusky (Takara), Michael Angelo Batio, Brad Gillis, George Lynch, Alexi Laiho, Mick Thomson, Paul Gilbert and Buckethead.
Rhoads used a relatively simple setup, with a small number of guitars, effects and favored amplifiers. He preferred GHS .011 gauge strings.
Gibson '74 Alpine White Les Paul Custom (Yellowed over the years dispite his efforts to preserve it)(Mahogany Body and Neck)
Karl Sandoval "Polka Dot" V
Jackson Black Rhoads w/ Fixed Bridge
Jackson White "Prototype" Concorde
Fender '57 Stratocaster 1950s Gibson Les Paul Black Beauty (used for photographs only)
GHS Boomers, 10-11 Gauge
Dunlop Crybaby Wah Roland RE-201 'Space Echo' Korg echo MXR: Distortion + 10 Band EQ  Flanger  Stereo Chorus 
Marshall Three 100W 1959 heads in white – two with a gain modification added by Marshall, one without. Marshall Model 1960A cabs in white, all loaded with Altec 417-8H speakers (open back) Peavey Standard head (in his Quiet Riot days)
For Blizzard Of Ozz, Randy used the 1959 without the modification, and used his MXR Distortion+ for the extra gain.
Guitar Rig and Signal Flow
A detailed gear diagram of Randy Rhoads' guitar rig for Ozzy's 1981 "Diary of a Madman" Tour is well-documented.
Pickups Dimarzio Super Distortion/ PAF On Karl Sandoval's Flying V. Super 74(Bridge) on Gibson Les Paul Custom. Seymour Duncan JB/Jazz Model on Jackson's.
Awards and 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 respectively 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.
In 2008 – 2010 applications for a Posthumous Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame were submitted in the name of Randy Rhoads. Randy Rhoads' Posthumous Star has not yet been approved and the HWOF Star application will be resubmitted in 2011. If approved by the Hollywood Walk Of Fame Committee in June 2011, Randy Rhoads' Posthumous Star would be placed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2012.
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