"Randy Rhoads - Gone but Not Forgotten"
"I remember the first time I met Randy Rhoads," Ozzy Osbourne said with a wistful smile. "I was sitting in a Los Angeles bar and a friend of mine introduced me to this blond guy who was the thinnest human being I'd ever seen. My friend said to me, 'Ozzy, meet your next guitarist.' Randy was very embarrassed by that introduction, and he kinda backed away, but I stuck my hand out to him. The first question I asked him was, 'Are you gay?' Randy said, 'No, I'm Church of England.' With a sense of humor like that, I knew we'd hit it off - and that was even before I heard him play guitar." Later that night, when Randy returned to Ozzy's hotel suite to try out for the vacant Blizzard of Ozz guitar spot, the vision he encountered was not one to instill confidence. "Ozzy was stretched out on the couch, exhausted," Randy told an interviewer in Florida only days before his fatal plane crash. "He looked at me like he didn't even remember who I was. Evidently, he had been listening to guitar players all night long, and by the time I got there which was about two o'clock in the morning - he was pretty out of it. He just said, 'Go ahead and play something. 'When I started, he perked up. I could tell he liked what I was doing."
Rhoads' memorable tryout, which Ozzy would later call "the most' incredible guitar exhibition I've ever heard," earned him a n invitation to fly to England where he joined in rehearsals for Ozzy's first studio album. Randy recalled his feelings about becoming of Ozzy’s band: "It was all very strange to me. I had been in a band called Quiet Riot for a number of years, and I was quite happy there. I didn't even want to try out for Ozzy's band, but when the opportunity came, my friends said I'd be crazy not to attempt it. Looking back, I'm glad I did." Randy Rhoads was born in Santa Monica, California, into an upper-middle-class family where both of his parents were music teachers. Because of his parents' profession, by the time Randy was six he had already picked up his first guitar, "a cheap classical acoustic" - and began taking lessons in both classical and folk guitar. "I took lessons for five years," he said. "But by the time I was 12, I stopped because I wanted to play rock, and my teachers looked down on that."
By the time he was 16, his guitar talents were so outstanding that he was asked to teach a course in electric guitar at the Musonia School of Music In California. At the same time, some Los Angeles area friends were forming a band called Quiet Riot, which quickly made a big splash on the LA club scene. In fact, as Randy said, 'We became the L.A. hard rock band after Van Halen made it big." Unlike VAN HALEN however, Quiet Riot wasn't able to procure a Stateside recording contract, and their fine albums, Quiet Riot and Quiet Riot 2, were released only in Japan.
"That was frustrating," Randy stated. "We thought we were good, yet the record companies kept turning us down. We thought the success of Van Halen would help us, but actually It hurt. Most of the record company people would say, We don't want the second LA. metal band. 'That's why we released the albums In Japan. There's a big market for rock and roll there, and at that time we were ' just thrilled to get our records out no matter where It was."
Randy firmly believed that Quiet Riot was destined for big things. In fact, his commitment to the band was so great that It took some real arm twisting to get him to join Ozzy's group. Bassist Rudy Sarzo, who played with Randy first in Quiet Riot, and later in the Blizzard of Ozz, recalled what Randy went through right before leaving Quiet Riot and heading to England to join forces with the Oz.
"Randy was a very straight-laced kind of guy, "Sarzo said. 'He'd never do anything to hurt anyone. He was tom between furthering his own career with Ozzy and letting us down. He felt a commitment to Quiet Riot, and he may have sacrificed his own best interest and kept us going if we hadn't practically insisted that he take the opportunity to join Ozzy. That's the kind of guy he was. " Randy's first days with the Blizzard of Ozz weren't very easy and as Osbourne stated, 'We made Randy go through an Indoctrination period. The guys in the band had been playing for years, and Randy was the new kid on the block. We all loved him, we were a little jealous. Here was this good looking, talented guy who looked like a rock idol even before he played, and here we were - a bunch of old fat arseholes."
Once the band hit its stride, however, and started laying down such tracks as Over The Mountain and Crazy Train, most of the good natured ribbing was replaced by awe. Randy's Intense, burning solos and rock-solid riffs turned even the most local band members into instant admirers. "He was incredible," said bassist Bob Daisley, who appeared on the first two Blizzard albums with Randy and recently rejoined Ozzy during work on his latest LP, Bark At The Moon. "I had worked with Ritchie Blackmore in Rainbow, so I was used to being around talented guitarists. But Randy was special. He was so good yet so unassuming."
While Rhoads' skills were somewhat overshadowed by the Ozzy mystique on both the Blizzard Of Ozz and Diary Of A Madman albums, once the band went on tour, any doubts about Randy's stellar qualities were quickly cast aside. On stage, dressed In polka-dot vests, with his customized Charvel guitars slung low over one hip and his long blond hair flying about, Randy was an immediate hit - a charismatic axe slinger who mixed a unique appearance with a mesmerizing guitar style.
'When we first started touring the crowds were cheering the loudest for me," Ozzy explained. "But by the second or third week, there were just as many people coming to see Randy as me. Together we were magic - we had a very special rapport. We were total opposites off stage - he didn't drink and was quiet, while I've always been a fuckin' loon - yet on stage we just clicked. "He had an angelic attitude toward the whole music business," Ozzy added. "I've been around so long that I've seen It all, but he just never seemed to get upset. He had the perfect disposition to work with. In the studio I'd give him a melody. and he'd come back with the riff. He was so Intelligent when It came to music. I can't even read music, but he knew everything. One Randy day he came to me and said that most heavy metal songs are written in an A to E chord structure. He said, 'Let's try to change that' -which we did. All I knew was that It sounded incredible." Ozzy's love for Randy was returned in kind, for Randy looked at Ozzy- as "the man who has educated me about music." Ozzy's crazed disposition and self confidence helped bring Randy out of his "Insecure shell" and reach his full potential. "Before I met Ozzy I was very insecure on stage," Randy said. "If my amps acted up, or the sound system wasn’t good, it really affected my playing. Being with Ozzy has given me a great deal of self confidence. He pushed me Into trying things and doing things I never would have done on my own. When we were recording Mr. Crowley, he walked into the studio where I was playing and said, 'Everything you're playing Is crap. Go out there and play how you feel, don't plan anything. ‘That was something I wasn't used to doing, and it opened up a whole new side of my personality. I'm so thankful to Ozzy for so many things - I'll be thankful to him for the rest of my life."