”All Randy ever wanted to do was play the guitar. I don't remember him ever saying he wanted to do anything else. I can’t remember a time before he played guitar." ~ Kellie Rhoads
Randall William Rhoads was born to William Arthur and Delores Rhoads on December 6, 1956 at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica California. He lived and breathed music from the day he was born, until his untimely death in 1982, leaving behind legacy that will last forever.
An Inspiration to All Young People:
When he was 6, Randy received his first guitar, an acoustic Gibson that had belonged to his maternal grandfather. He spent a lot of time playing around with it, trying to learn things on his own. He soon started taking guitar lessons with his sister, Kathy at Musonia, a music school in North Hollywood that was owned by his mother. He would later take piano lessons there at Delores’ request so he could learn to read music. The piano lessons didn't last very long however, and at the age of 12, Randy became interested in electric guitar. For almost a year, he took lessons from Scott Shelly, a guitar teacher at Musonia. Shelly eventually went to Delores and explained that he could not teach Randy anymore, as he knew everything that Shelly knew. (So begins the legend...)
Bassist Kelly Garni and Randy started playing together around 1971, combining their talents in bands such as Milfred Pierce, the Katzenjammer Kids and Mammoth. During weekends, they would play parties in backyards in the Burbank area. When they met, Randy had already started to form his own style beyond that of someone his age. It was at this time that Randy created a lot of the trademark licks and sounds that many musicians today continue to copy. It was also that during these years Randy and Kelly became well known in the area and created a quite a local reputation for themselves, which helped launch their next band.
Gonna Start A Riot
After years of playing backyard parties, Randy and Kelly wanted to do something else, something more formal. There are many different versions of the initial meeting between Kevin DuBrow and Randy Rhoads. The actual story goes that in May of 1975, Randy called up Kevin DuBrow through a mutual friend. After the phone call, Randy and Kelly went over to Kevin’s house to watch some home movies of him singing with the musicians that eventually became The Dickies. Later that week, Kevin went to Delores’ house and began working with Randy. That was the beginning of Quiet Riot. The original line up had Randy on guitar, Kelly Garni on bass, Kevin DuBrow on vocals and Drew Forsyth on drums Around this same time, Randy began teaching guitar in his mother's school during the day and playing with Quiet Riot at night.
Originally called "Little Women," Quiet Riot got their new name from Richard Parfitt, a guitarist for the English group Status Quo. They recorded the Quiet Riot EP in 1975 and released it on their manager's label Magic Wand records. They were quickly becoming one of the biggest acts in the Los Angeles area along with Van Halen, and eventually obtained a recording contract with CBS/Sony record in Japan, releasing two full-length LP's. Unfortunately, these recordings were never released in the States. While there were plans for Quiet Riot to tour Japan, their management turned down the offer and they stayed in the U.S., continuing to sell out college and high school auditoriums as well as clubs in Southern California.
In the latter part of 1979, at the suggestion of a bass player from a band that used to open for Quiet Riot (Dana Strum), Randy went to audition for a band being put together by former Black Sabbath lead singer, Ozzy Osbourne. Ozzy auditioned just about every guitarist in the Los Angeles area and was about to go home to England, all hopes of a new band washed away. Randy was convinced that the audition wouldn't amount to much, since he was content to stay with Quiet Riot. Randy auditioned for Ozzy in a recording studio in Malibu and after tuning up Ozzy said, "You've got the job" Later they rehearsed at L.A's MARS sound stage with future Quiet Riot drummer Frankie Banali. They didn't want Dana, only Frankie and Randy but they could only get English work permits for Randy.
Ozzy left for England in late 1980 and eventually Randy joined, to begin working on "Blizzard of Ozz.". When it was released, it immediately charted at number 7 in the U.K. and sales of the album more than doubled with each U.K. town they played. On the road, Randy was known for his stellar live performances and when the first tour began the crowds would cheer for Ozzy, but soon an equal amount of the audience was coming to see the newest sensation in rock-n-roll, Randy Rhoads. Not long after Blizzard of Ozz, the band started to work on Diary of a Madman. Ironically, as with Quiet Riot, Randy Rhoads' guitar playing would be heard on two full-length albums and one EP.
With all of this going on around him, Randy's interest in classical guitar was consuming him more each day. Often times Randy would have a classical guitar tutor in each city the band played. It became common knowledge that he wanted to quit rock and roll temporarily so that he could attend school to get his masters in classical guitar. There was also talk of Randy returning to Quiet Riot. Randy was supposed to play on the track "Thunderbird" from Metal Health. He was killed before he was able to.
Fly on Thunderbird...
March 19, 1982 is often called "The Day the Music Died" by many. Sadly, it was the day that Randy was taken from this Earth. At approximately 9:00a.m without permission, Andrew Aycock took Rachel Youngblood and Randy Rhoads up for a few minutes in a red and white 1955 Beechcraft Bonanza F-35 that belonged to Mike Partin of Kissimmee, Florida. Aycock's pilot's license was not valid due to the fact that his medical certificate had expired. They flew low to the ground several times, "buzzing" the tour bus three times, with, Ozzy, Sharon Arden and Rudy Sarzo sleeping on the bus. The plane's left wing struck the side of the bus and then crashed into the garage of a house owned by Jerry Calhoun. Randy died instantly.
With such a brief stint on Earth, and with so much more music to be played, we are only left with what Randy did give us while alive. This music we must enjoy and savor. His influence on heavy metal can't be captured by words—we can only listen to a master at work when we play his music. His spirit, immortal, now plays for the angels.