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Randy Rhoads Biography

Compiled from Various Sources around the web, including the site that started it all from my personal friend Randy Perry's site The Day the Music Died.

Randall William Rhoads was born on December 6, 1956 at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California. With one brother (Doug) and one sister (Kathy), Randy was the youngest of three. When Randy was 17 months old his father, William Arthur Rhoads, a public school music teacher, left and all three children were raised by their mother, Delores Rhoads. William Rhoads would later remarry, producing Dan and Paul,... "half" brothers to Randy. 

Randy started taking guitar lessons around the age of 6 or 7 at a music school in North Hollywood called Musonia, which was owned by his mother. His first guitar was a Gibson (acoustic) that belonged to Delores Rhoads' father. Randy and his sister (Kathy) both began folk guitar lessons at the same time with Randy later taking piano lessons (at his mother's request) so that he could learn to read music. Randy's piano lessons did not last very long. At the age of 12, Randy became interested in rock guitar. His mother, Delores, had an old semi-acoustic Harmony Rocket, that at that time was "almost larger than he was". For almost a year Randy took lessons from Scott Shelly, a guitar teacher at his mother's school. Scott Shelly eventually went to Randy's mother explaining that he could not teach him anymore as Randy knew everything that he (Scott Shelly) knew. 

 

The Quiet Riot Years...

At the age of 11, Randy met who was to be his best friend, Kelly Garni. Kelly Garni recalls the experience, "Randy dressed different and he was small. He was artful looking and not athletic-looking what so ever. You could tell he was artistic and very introspective and just all in all different. That is what attracted me to him. One day I just walked up to him and said ‘hey, how ya doin?' After that we just started talking and hanging out together. I started going over to his house. It was immediately clear that his family was very musical. At that time, Randy knew his guitar chords already and was just starting to learn his leads." Randy's mother, Delores, also remembers this, “They were just friends in school, they were in the same grade. Randy said, 'I sure would like to have a bass player to jam with. Kelly, I'm going to teach you how to play bass.' Randy taught Kelly how to play bass. They jammed together after school, had a lot of fun until the neighbors complained, of course.” 

The seemingly inseparable two began playing shows wherever they could. Parks, parties, back yards, and sometimes living rooms where transformed into their stage. Quite often they would play local block parties with large amounts of people, that would frequently be shut down by the police. This soon became a problem for the boys, so they began to practice and perform the recital room at the music school Delores ran. The deal was that Randy and Kelley were to play with ‘The Six Musonians,” some of Delores' top students, if they were to be able to use the room. They used any drummer they could find, and sometimes their drummer for the show would be twice their age, or older. They rarely used singers, but did happen to find one thru a bulletin board in a Guitar Center, by the name of Smokey. They played with their new band ‘Smokey' at a club called ‘Rodney's English Disco. The band eventually broke up. At the age of 14, Randy formed ‘Violet Fox,' named after his mother's middle name, with his brother Doug on drums. He was also in various bands such as ‘Mildred Pierce', and ‘Katzenjammer Kids' before Quiet Riot was officially formed. Kelly Garni remembers very well meeting up with Kevin Dubrow, the singer of Quiet Riot. “One day Randy and I were at this girls house named Hillary. She was talking on the phone to one of her girlfriends about some singer named Kevin. I was like, ”singer? Kevin? Who is this guy?”. So, I thought that I would give the girl the third degree and find out some more information on this singer named Kevin. Hillary said that he looked like Rod Stewart, though she had never heard him sing. She didn't know much about him and so she just gave me his phone number so that I could call him myself. Randy and I called him and spoke to him about what we were looking for. We wanted to check him out and so we went over to his house and took a look at him. Our first thought was that he looked pretty geeky. We didn't see a whole lot of potential there! Randy and I just sort of looked at each other and rolled our eyes. We immediately started looking for a way to get out of there! 

But, Kevin was very persistent We would try avoiding him though he would keep calling us. We reluctantly had him come over to Randys house one day. We went into Randys garage and jammed with Kevin. Kevin was just horrible! Randy and I looked at each other and basically weren't too suprised. We knew that. After that, he still would not leave us alone. He kept calling and asking ”well, when is our band going to play? When are we going to rehearse?”. We would make up excuse after excuse. We would say things like we had a cold , or one of the amps was blown up, or there was no where to play. He just wouldn't give up though and kept calling. So, we finally just gave up and said, ”well, let's see what we can do with him”. 

We started working on his singing and gave him a few pointers. 

As time went on he actually became a very good singer. He was eventually acceptable and once he was definitely in the band, he took over everything. He ran the whole show. It was fine with Randy and I because up until then I was the one doing everything. He took over us getting a manager, running the band, finding us a place to rehearse, finding us a gig. He was a business man through and through. We just kind of said, ”well, okay. He certainly justifies his involvement here”. It was cool. There was obviously no getting rid of him! We were stuck with him! That was it! He wasn't going anywhere! Our drummer Drew Forsyth was one of the drummers that we had used through the years. We had decided to permanently bring him into the project. We were then, Quiet Riot. 

Kevin came up with the name Quiet Riot. As I recall he heard a guy say that if he ever had a band, he would call it Quiet Riot. He shouldn't have said that in front of Kevin because Kevin said ”I'm going to have a band and I am going to call it Quiet Riot!”. So, he did. That same guy is probably going, ”wow, you know I said that once. Now it's a big name!” 

Lead singer Kevin Dubrow remembers this as well, “I am a huge Humble Pie fan and I went to see them play in 1975 in San Diego, California. The show had cancelled so I came back home and there was a message for me that said ‘Randy from Smokey's band called and wants you to call him'. So, not knowing what this was about, I called Randy and we discussed his situation. There was this guy named Smokey who was a singer in a band that Randy and Kelly were in. They use to play in a club called Rodney's English Disco in Hollywood. Kelly and Randy had left the band and were told about me through a mutual friend. They were told that I was a singer. Randy and I started talking on the phone and he told me that he was a guitar player and it just turned out that we both had a lot in common. We then got together. It was funny because when I first heard him play, he was actually playing the songs that were eventually on the first Quiet Riot album. All with a little guitar amp and a Gibson SG. He was pretty amazing. We just started playing in the garage of his mom's house. Randy gave me my first guidance as a singer. I was singing really low and he suggested that I try singing a bit higher. The way that you hear him play later on is actually pretty much how he played early on as well. We soon became Quiet Riot. Our first real band argument was that Randy and Kelly wanted to play a lot of Alice Cooper stuff and I wasn't a big fan of Alice Cooper. Also, Randys girlfriend at the time had a big influence on the decision making that was happening in the band. I was like ”hey, why is she making decisions when she is not even in the band?”. I certainly brought the business sense into the band that was most definitely lacking. I actually shook things up a bit at the time. Randy and Kelly were just kids. I was eighteen, but still had a business sense. We finally got things organized. 

Quiet Riot played its first show at what was to be Randy and Kelly's' high school prom. It was quite strange because the people at their high school gave them such a hard time for the way they looked, that Kelly didn't even graduate, but got his GED instead. Afterwards though, all of the student body, mainly jocks, had a different view of them, and they seemed to get along just fine. The second show they performed was at a Halloween party in Burbank, and then on to a Chili Cook off festival. 

From then on they quickly became a very popular local band, rivaling bands such as Van Halen at local clubs. Stress from management forced Quiet Riot into a very glam look, which is also where Randy's polka-dot bowtie trade mark came from. Quiet Riot secured a record deal with Casablanca, who eventually backed out. Next they were signed to Buddah records who unfortunately went bankrupt soon after. They struggled with record deals and only managed to get eventually get two albums released in Japan, under a CBS/Sony label. They released Quiet Riot I (1978), and Quiet Riot II (1979), as well as a single, which we all hugely successful and developed a large fan base for them in Japan. They were meant to eventually tour in Japan, but that never came to be. In 1978 Kelly Garni decided to leave the band, and was replaced by Rudy Sarzo. Kelly's last gig with the band was at the Santa Monica Civic Center, opening for Angel. Five months before Randy would leave QR, he had his signature Polka-dot V made by Karl Sandoval for $738, which he received on September 22, 1979. Later that same year, Randy would audition for the gig with Ozzy Osbourne. 

 

The Ozzy Years ...

In late 1979, after scouring the greater part of L.A. and New York for guitarists, Ozzy Osbourne was finally introduced to the guitarist that would inevitably revitalize his career, and start a Rock n' Roll revolution for Metal heads across the planet. Dana Strum (of Slaughter) was the driving force behind this duo, as Randy was very reluctant to join forces with Ozzy. Dana Strum had been searching for a guitarist for Ozzy, and had recommended Randy. 

It is often sighted that Randy himself was not a very big fan of Black Sabbath, and was hardly interested in the gig. Randy's close friend and confidant, Kelly Garni, remembers Randy's feelings towards Black Sabbath, "When we were growing up, we thought Black Sabbath was a ridiculous thing. It was something we made fun of. Here were these guys out there, and then there's the devil and all this...it was goofy. We parodied it all the time. We would act all heavy, y'know, do pre-headbanging moves and act all dark and everything. We thought it was funny. It was a joke." His mother Delores also thought that it would be a good opportunity for Randy. "Randy you know in the music business, it's sometimes very important to know some people. They can perhaps help you or recommend you. It might be worth the trip down to Hollywood to meet Ozzy if nothing else. Later that same night he went down to meet up with Ozzy Osbourne. After only plugging into a small practice amp and running thru some scales, Randy had the gig. 

Randy laughingly recalled the audition. “I thought I was going to go play with a band. I met him at a recording studio and I had just brought a tune up amp. If you've ever been in a recording studio, they have the glass booths up there. Well, through the tune up amp, no effects or nothing, straight through that and mic'd, they were all listening and said ‘ok, play.' You've got to be joking. What can I play? I didn't know what to do so I just started warming up and he said ‘Yea you're good.' I had only played for a couple seconds, and then I got kind of mad cause I thought, ‘You haven't even heard me yet.'” 

Next, it was time to piece together what would soon be, the Blizzard of Oz. Randy's first choice for drummer, was Frankie Banali. One day he phoned Frankie and asked him if he'd like to join up with he and Ozzy. After taking a moment to recall exactly who Ozzy was, Frankie said sure, and soon Randy came and picked Frankie and his drum set and headed to the rehearsal studio. That day Randy Rhoads , Ozzy Osbourne , Frankie Banali, and Dana strum came up with what would later become the song ‘Over the Mountain.' Frankie recalls having a talk with Ozzy while taking a walk during a jam session break, “ Listen, I don't know if you're going to decide to use myself or Dana, but I gotta tell you, you gotta use Randy there's no question about it. The guys amazing, I've seen him play for years. They could only get one non-English work permit to go back to England and record. The choice was obvious, it had to be Randy.” 

In fall of 1979, Randy and Ozzy left for England to begin work on the album, Blizzard of Ozz. ‘Blizzard of Ozz' bassist Bob Daisley remembers his experience joining the band. “Ozzy said 'I'm putting a band together. I know you've just come from Rainbow. Would you be interested?' So I caught a train up to Ozzy's place up in Stafford in the Midlands in England, and we had a play together with a couple of local musicians, friends of his that he had there, but it worked really well. So he asked me again if I'd be interested in putting a band together, and I said yes. The three of us [Daisley, Osbourne and Rhoads] met up at Jet Records over in London, and then we went back up to Ozzy's place and had a play together. The first time we played together, Randy and I looked at each other, right at the same time - it was uncanny - and said "I like the way you play." Right at the same time.” 

After a long seach for drummers, former Uriah Heep drummer Kee Kerslake was found and fit the gig perfectly. Daisley remembers the situation, “We kept on auditioning drummers but we could not find anyone who was right, and eventually we had one more guy to audition, and if he didn't work out then we would have just gone into the studio to do our album with a session player, maybe like Cozy Powell or whoever was available, you know? But the last guy to audition was Lee Kerslake, and as soon as we started playing, we started doing the song "I Don't Know," we got into the first half of the first verse, and Randy and I looked at each other, and we both must have had the same look in our eyes, like "thank fuck for that!" And that's what we said after, too, "Thank goodness for that. YOU are the guy. You are the guy we've been looking for." It just worked out great. We went out to a Chinese meal and celebrated.” On March 20, 1980 the band entered Ridge Farms studios to record their first album, with producer Max Norman. 

Max Norman remembers very well recording with Randy, “Randy was always very nervous in the studio. He was extremely careful about what he played. If there was one thing out, he would go back and do that again. That's a pretty good policy, really, because a lot of those tracks--especially the lead guitar tracks--were triple-tracked.” 

On September 12,1980, the Blizzard of Ozz played their first show of their tour at Apollo Theater in Glasgow, Scotland. They would play a total of 34 shows before their break during Christmas. It was at this time that Randy returned home to California, and had his custom white flying V build with the help of Grover Jackson. 2 months later, the finished guitar was sent to Randy in England. 

From January to March of 1981, the Blizzard of Ozz entered Ridge Farm Studios again to begin work on the ‘Diary of a Madman' album. The album was written and recorded with a very hurried feel about it. None of the actual band members were even present for the mixing of the album. With the Diary album finished, but not yet released, bassists Rudy Sarzo and drummer Tommy Aldridge joined the band for the American Blizzard of Ozz tour beginning on April 22, 1981 in Townson, Maryland. The Blizzard album went gold in 100 days, but all was not easy, as they were often experiencing poor ticket sales. It was also during this time that Randy went once again to Grover Jackson to have another flying V built, this time with a more distinctive design. Randy only received the first of the 3 guitars Grover was building for him, as he died before he received the other 2. The North American Blizzard tour concluded in September of 1981, with the release date for the ‘Diary of a Madman' album, set for Halloween of 1981. The UK part of the Diary tour ended very abruptly in early December of 81 as Ozzy could not take it anymore, and had broke down from the stress. 

With the beginning of the US Diary tour on December 30, 1981, things were picking up very quickly. Randy was awarded the ‘Best New Talent' award by Guitar Player magazine in 1981. “When they told me I thought they were joking, ‘cause Sharon always jokes with me anyway. She called me one day and told me, and I just didn't believe it. Still I don't believe it. I'm really proud and honored and I don't want to stop here.” 

This new tour was complete with a huge dungeon backdrop for the show, pyrotechnics, a huge drum riser, and a giant hand that Ozzy came out on. It was a spectacular gothic stage setup, and was quite often beleaguered by local authorities, and animal abuse agencies, for its over the top theatrics and claims of animal abuse. 

Randy hadn't really had the time to set down and sort out all of the wonderful things happening to him yet. “There's so much going on and there's not enough time to do anything. I'm not confident about everything yet. I haven't had time to sort everything out. Since I've started this, great things haven't stopped happening. It gets to the point to where you don't know how to handle any good news anymore. Everything is great. When you dream of things you don't dream of that, you just dream of being in a band and getting your chance to do it.” 

It was during this time that Randy's obsession with classical guitar really began to consume him more and more. He often had a guitar teacher on the road with him, and would book teachers in every town he played in. Often he would end up teaching his tutor as he frequently knew more than they did. Rumor has it tension was evident in the band between Ozzy and Randy, as Randy really wasn't looking to do anymore work with Ozzy, he was more interested in going to UCLA and getting a masters degree in classical music. For 3 and a half fast paced months the group toured seemingly non-stop, with a work ethic that can't be matched, while the single ‘Flyin' High Again' was making its way well up the charts, and the album itself, was on its way to platinum status. 

On March 18, 1982 the group played their last gig at the Civic Coliseum in Knoxville, Tennessee, and then headed to Orlando for "Rock Super Bowl XIV" with Foreigner, Bryan Adams and UFO. On the way there they made a stop by ‘Flying Baron Estates' in Leesburg, Florida where the bus driver Andrew C. Aycock lived. (The following excerpt is taken directly from the Day the Music Died page) 

The bus arrived at Flying Baron Estates in Leesburg at about 8:00 a.m. on the 19th and parked approximately 90 yards away from the landing strip and approximately 15 yards in front of the house that would later serve as the accident site. On the bus were: Ozzy Osbourne, Sharon Arden, Rudy Sarzo, Tommy Aldrige, Don Airey, Wanda Aycock, Andrew Aycock, Rachel Youngblood, Randy Rhoads and the bands tour manager. Andrew Aycock and his ex-wife, Wanda, went into Jerry Calhoun's house to make some coffee while some members of Ozzy Osbourne's band slept in the bus and others got out and "stretched". Being stored inside of the aircraft hanger at Flying Baron Estates, was a red and white 1955 Beechcraft Bonanza F-35 (registration #: N567LT) that belonged to Mike Partin of Kissimmee, Florida. Andrew Aycock, who had driven the groups bus all night from Knoxville and who had a pilots license, apparently took the plane without permission and took keyboardist Don Airey and the bands tour manager up in the plane for a few minutes, at times flying low to the ground. Unbeknownst to anyone at the time, Andrew Aycock's medical certificate (3rd class) had expired, thus making his pilots license not valid. 

Approximately 9:00 a.m. on the morning of March 19th, Andrew Aycock took Rachel Youngblood and Randy Rhoads up for a few minutes. During this trip the plane began to fly low to the ground, at times below tree level, and "buzzed" the bands tour bus three times. On the fourth pass (banking to the left in a south-west direction) the planes left wing struck the left side of the bands tour bus (parked facing east) puncturing it in two places approximately half way down on the right side of the bus. The plane, with the exception of the left wing, was thrown over the bus, hit a nearby pine tree, severing it approximately 10 feet up from the bottom, before it crashed into the garage on the west side of the home owned by Jerry Calhoun. The plane was an estimated 10 feet off the ground traveling at approximately 120 - 150 knots during impact. The house was almost immediately engulfed in flames and destroyed by the crash and ensuing fire, as was the garage (pictured) and the two vehicles inside, an Oldsmobile and a Ford Granada. Jesse Herndon, who was inside the house during the impact, escaped with no injuries. The largest piece of the plane that was left was a wing section about 6 to 7 feet long. The very wing that caught the side of the tour bus, was deposited just to the north of the bus. The severed pine tree stood between the bus and the house. 

Ozzy Osbourne, Tommy Aldrige, Rudy Sarzo and Sharon Arden, who were all asleep on the bus, were awoken by the planes impact and (at first) thought they had been involved in a traffic accident. Wanda Aycock had returned to the bus while keyboardist Don Airey stood outside and witnesses the accident, as did Marylee Morrison, who was riding her horse within sight of the estate. Two men, at the west end of the runway, witnessed the plane "buzzing" the area when the plane suddenly "went out of sight" as it crashed. 

Once outside of the bus the band members learned of the catastrophic event that had just taken place. The bus was moved approximately 300 feet to the east of the house that was engulfed in flames. The band checked into the Hilco Inn in Leesburg where they mourned the death of Randy and Rachel and would wait for family members to arrive. While Orlando's "Rock Super Bowl XIV", scheduled for later that day, was not canceled, the Ozzy Osbourne band would not play and the promoters offered refunds to all ticket holders. 

 

Randy Rhoads was put to rest in San Bernadino, California.

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