Delores Rhoads - A mother's tribute
Most mothers think that cream only belongs in coffee and deep purple on the drapes. The only Ozzy they know is the one that shared a house with Harriet, David and Ricky Nelson on the Ozzy & Harriet TV show. Randy Rhoads' mom, Delores, was different. An accomplished musician herself, she founded her own music school, which she runs to this day. Her most famous pupil was her son, whom she encouraged to explore the palette of his chosen instrument. His talent and invention, which she nurtured from his first days with the guitar, would put him among the great rock voices of our time. The full impact of his musical ambitions will never be known, but the roots of his greatness live on vinyl and in the hearts of his fans. Delores Rhoads kindly shared with us some remembrances of her son.
Was Randy a natural on guitar, the kind of musician who would play one note and you would recognize it?
That's Randy from the very beginning. I knew he had something very special and I think that carried through. He played with that feeling, which is so important. When we would play together he'd always say, 'Let's play with real feeling even though we were just playing for enjoyment. I've taught for many, many years and I've never seen anyone so dedicated. He played sports in junior high school, but the guitar was his life.
Did he take lessons at your music store?
For a limited time. I started my daughter and Randy at the same time. Back then they started with folk guitar. They learned a few chords and played a few pop tunes. I gave him some piano lessons so he could learn to read. He didn't go into it extensively but he had a little foundation in it. Of course that didn't satisfy Randy very long. He wanted to go on to the electric guitar. That's when Scott Shelly came in. Randy studied with him for about a year. Then Scott came to me and said, 'I really can't teach him anymore. I've taught him all that I know how to teach him, He is outstanding.'
When did Randy's flair for music really begin to show itself?
In my school I always have groups where the students who take private lessons can play as an outlet. It's geared to be like a school orchestra or band group. One number that Randy especially liked to play was "Chattanooga Choo Choo." He couldn't have been more than eight years old at the time, maybe younger. But he would sit there and play his heart out because he enjoyed it. He was taking things a little on his own even then. His friends flocked to him to listen to his playing, but Randy wouldn't settle for that simple type of band music to play for his friends. He would branch out and do things that I wouldn't even know, which were probably the current hits of that time. He was learning to read music. A little later down the line we entered our group in a local competition. Randy took off on a little bit of lead at that point and on the judges comments they mentioned that the guitar didn't fit with the proper school type thing, They said the guitar was playing all over the place.
Randy has said he didn't really emulate any guitar heroes.
That's right. We didn't have hi-fi equipment or records because we were limited as to funds and I had to raise the three children myself. So he really didn't listen to other people.
At what point did he start teaching?
He was about 16. He knew a lot more than most of the teachers that I could get. He would relate well to his students and play with them. They would come out of the room walking on clouds because of the good experience. He had a certain method which was his way of teaching. He explained it to me many times and gave me diagrams. I think I still have the diagrams of how he taught the students. He called it bouncing the ball, and he had a certain progression that he followed. He could get them on their feet to follow a pattern and then start their lead from that. It really was unique. He tried to explain it to me time and time again but I don't play guitar. He said, 'Do it on the trumpet or do it on the flute. It's the same thing.' I'm sorry to say that I never followed through to completely understand it. It is such a shame that it wasn't put down. There was one boy who came to me once and said he kept all of the lessons Randy taught him. I thought that if I could get enough material together I would like to write a book.
Was Randy teaching guitar at the same time as he joined Quiet Riot?
He didn't join Quiet Riot, he formed it. He was the one who started it. He and his friend Kelly Garni used to jam a lot together and they were the ones who started Quiet Riot when they decided they would like to make something a little more formal. I was in my kitchen when they auditioned Kevin (DuBrow). After he sang a little bit for them, I remember Kevin saying, 'Well if you don't like me just say so and I'll leave.' Randy and Kelly said, 'Now wait a minute, there are probably some things we have to work out. Let's talk about it.' That was actually the very first day for Quiet Riot. This all happened about the same time he was teaching for me. He was about 16. So it was Quiet Riot and teaching at the same time, right through those five years together.
How excited was Randy when he got the deal for the Japanese record?
Being from a musical family, musicians know what happens in music. You don't get excited until it's actually there. I had always stressed that with Randy. Don't get your hopes up; take it in stride. Whatever you get out of it, fine, but don't think that only great things are going to happen. They were well aware of that and took it in stride. I remember Randy wasn't happy with either of those two Quiet Riot records. Even before the accident, kids would and ask me where to get those records. I said, 'Randy, what should I tell them?' 'Tell them I don't want them to have those records,' he said. 'What I do now is so much better, I don't want them to have those albums.' I have discouraged any procedure on those albums because I know how he felt.
I understand his meeting Ozzy was quite by luck.
Randy didn't want to go. This bass player (Dana Strum) knew of Randy, had heard him, and recommended that Ozzy hear him, because he was ready to go back to England and give up. They called Randy in the morning and he said, 'I'm not interested. I like my band and I don't want to make a change.' They called again and asked if he would come down. He said, 'I have to teach at my mother's school. We don't get home until late and by the time I get there it will be midnight or 1:00 A.M.' They said, 'That's all right, come whenever you get through, but just come.' He still didn't want to go. I said, 'Randy, it can't hurt; just go and see what it's all about.' So he did. He took his little old Fender practice amp, which he loved, and he wasn't gone all that long. When he came back he said, 'I don't know what happened. I was just warming up, tuning up, and Ozzy came out and said, you've got the job. I don't know what job I got, but he says I got it.' Then Randy said, 'It probably won't amount to anything, because Ozzy has to go back to England. He said he would call me in two weeks but you know how these things are in music.' But Ozzy did call in exactly two weeks.
Did Randy call from England while they were writing the record?
Oh yes, he called many times. He lived with Ozzy at first and they wrote a great of the Blizzard album before they had a band. Sometimes he had a question about certain technical terms in music and I would help him.
When you heard the Blizzard album, was Randy's guitar playing light years beyond Quiet Riot?
When they did the two Quiet Riot albums, I criticized them very much. I kept saying that the songs weren't that good, and Randy got very upset with me. When he brought home Blizzard, the first time I heard it I said, 'Randy that is great.' He was elated. Everything was so much better. I knew he had something special, but I think I realized it for the first time with that album. Of course I was thrilled to death about the song "Dee," because he dedicated it to me.
He had commented that he didn't have it together for Diary of Madman.
He called me from England while they were working on that. He was extremely depressed, because they were terribly pressured time wise. It was winter and he said the weather was so cold he couldn't even go outside. He said, 'I feel like I'm in prison. I just work all day. We have to get this recorded so we can go on tour in the United States.' He felt they did it all in too much of a hurry. He was most disappointed that they couldn't stay for the mixing of that second album. They had to leave to come over here. He felt that a lot of the songs would have been much better if the band could have only stayed for the mixing, because they would have approved the mix. He was disappointed especially on the one where they used the professional musicians and the chorus. He said the sound didn't come off nearly as good as it really was because of the mixing. Randy was a perfectionist. He wanted everything just right and he would just work and work. He would be extremely critical of himself.
When Randy was on the road I know he would look for guitar lessons in each town.
He was always reaching for more. He had in the back of his mind that he would go back to college and get his degree, then go to Europe and get his Masters in classical guitar. That would have been his next step forward.
The Day The Music Died - Randy's Rhoads Web Page