Today would have been Randy Rhoads 57th birthday. Randy, who died in 1982, was on his way to Orlando, Florida for the next stop on the Ozzy Osbourne, Diary of a Madman tour. After driving most of the night, the band stopped to visit friends and ended up going for a joyride on a small engine plane piloted by tour bus driver Andrew Aycock. Rhoads who was afriad of flying went only because seamstress / hairdresser Rachel Youngblood had a heart conditon and Aycock promised he wouldn’t do anything risky. Randy also loved photography and wanted to take some aerial photos. Aycock tried to startle the sleeping members on the tour bus and flew the plane extremely close to the bus twice. The third trip however proved to be fatal. The plane crashed and burst into flames killing 25 year old Rhoads, Youngblood and himself.
Randy began his foray into music forming a cover band at 14 called Violet Fox, with his brother on drums playing classic songs by The Rolling Stones, Alice Cooper and David Bowie during performances at a local music school. After Violet Fox broke up, Randy formed The Whoreand they began playing over the next several months at backyard parties in LA. At 16, Randy and best friend Kelli Garni, who he had taught to play bass, formed Quiet Riot and started playing bars and clubs around LA including two of the most popular in that era: The Whisky a Go Go and The Starwood. While they were creating a buzz, Quiet Riot was only able to sign a Japanese recording contract with CBS/Sony who released Quiet Riot and Quiet Riot II in Japan only.
In 1979, during an interview with a magazine, Ozzy Osbourne mentioned that he was looking for a new guitartist. The editiors suggested Rhoads and when he showed up for his audtion Ozzy hired him on the spot without even hearing a note. Randy had later recounted ”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 played on two Ozzy albums: Blizzard of Oz and Diary of a Madman. Ozzy also released an 3 song live EP in 1980 called Mr. Crowley Live EP from the Southhampton, UK show earlier in the year.
Randy, who was a devoted student of classical guitar combined his classical music influences along with his own heavy style to create music that will live on forever. He has influenced many, many musicians and is considered one of the greatest guitartists of all time. His death was a huge shock to the world and Ozzy wrote in his autobiography “I Am Ozzy” that he almost quit music after Randy’s death.
Happy Birthday Randy! You may be gone but you are never forgotten!