Randy Rhoads Biography


Randall William Rhoads was born on December 6, 1956 at St. Johns 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.

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 mothers request) so that he could learn to read music. Randys 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 mothers school. Scott Shelly eventually went to Randys mother explaining that he could not teach him anymore as Randy knew everything that he (Scott Shelly) knew. When Randy was about 14, he was in his first band,Violet Fox, named after his mothers middle name, Violet. With Randy playing rhythm guitar and his brother Doug playing drums, Violet Fox were together about 4 to 5 months. Randy was in various other bands, such as "The Katzenjammer Kids" and "Mildred Pierce", playing parties in the Burbank area before he formed Quiet Riot in 1976 with longtime friend and bassist Kelly Garni. Randy Rhoads and Kelly Garni (whom Randy taught to play bass guitar) met Kevin DuBrow through a mutual friend from Hollywood. How they actually got together is a different story with many variations:

A.) The two contacted Kevin DuBrow, went to his house to "audition" him but originally werent interested in having him as a vocalist. Kevin kept calling Randy and Kelly until they eventually decided to try him out as a vocalist.

B.) Randy and Kelly Garni auditioned Kevin DuBrow in Delores Rhoads kitchen. Kevin sang for them, then said something to the point of, "well if you dont like me just say so and Ill leave." Randy and Kelly decided to work with him though they would have to "work some things out".

C.) Randy Rhoads called Kevin DuBrow, they decided to get together to see about putting together a band. Randy went to Kevins house with his guitar and an amp. As Randy began to play, Kevin began to hear the best guitarist hed ever heard.

Around that same time Randy began teaching guitar in his mothers school during the day and playing with Quiet Riot at night. Originally called "Little Women", Quiet Riot got their "new" name from one of Kevins friends from the band Status Quo. Quiet Riot were quickly becoming one of the biggest acts in the Los Angeles area and eventually obtained a recording contract with CBS/Sony records, releasing two full length l.p.s and one e.p. in Japan. Quiet Riots two records, Quiet Riot 1 (1978), which was originally recorded for an American record label, and Quiet Riot 2 (1979), received rave reviews in the Japanese press, claiming them to be the "next big thing". Unfortunately these recordings were never released in the United States. While there were plans for Quiet Riot to tour Japan, their management turned down the offer and Quiet Riot stayed in the United States continuing to sell out college and high school auditoriums as well as clubs in the Los Angeles area. About 5 months before Randy left Quiet Riot, he went to Karl Sandoval to have a custom guitar made. Several meetings and drawings later they would ultimately create a black and white polka dot flying "V", a guitar that would become synonymous with the name Randy Rhoads. The guitar would cost Randy $738.00 and was picked up by Randy on September 22, 1979. (September 22, 1979 saw Quiet Riot playing at the "Whiskey a go-go" in Los Angeles, California,... so chances are, that was probably the first place he ever played that guitar in front of an audience.)

In the latter part of 1979, at the request of a friend (Dana Strum), Randy went to audition for a band being put together by former Black Sabbath lead singer, Ozzy Osbourne. As the story goes: Ozzy had auditioned just about every guitarist in Los Angeles and was about to go home to England, the hopes of a new band washed away. Enter Randy Rhoads. Randy wasnt completely interested in auditioning, he was happy with his current band and thought that this "audition" wouldnt amount to much. As with Kevin DuBrow, Randy's first meeting/audition with Ozzy Osbourne has a few variations:

A.) Randy walked into Ozzys hotel room late one evening with a guitar and a small Fender practice amp, plugged in and started tuning his guitar. He did a few warm up exercises and got the job as Ozzy Osbournes lead guitarist at age 22.

B.) Randy walked into a Ozzy's studio/rehearsal place late one evening with a guitar and a small Fender practice amp, plugged in and started tuning his guitar. He did a few warm up exercises and got the job as Ozzy Osbournes lead guitarist at age 22.

C.) Ozzy was first introduced to Randy in a bar where someone introduced him to Ozzy as his (Ozzy's) "next guitarist".

With Ozzy Osbourne, Randy Rhoads and bassist Dana Strum (Slaughter), all that was missing was a drummer. Randy Rhoads brought in a friend of his, Frankie Bannalli (Quiet Riot, W.A.S.P.), and the band began to rehearse in Los Angeles for a short time. However, when it became time to go to England, where Ozzy's albums would be recorded, the record company could only obtain a work permit for one non-English band member,... Randy Rhoads.

Randy was whisked off to England shortly before Thanksgiving of 1979 where, at Ozzy's home in Wales, the two began to write the "Blizzard of Ozz" album and audition musicians to fill out the band. While the band rehearsed at "John Henrys", a rehearsal hall in London, the earliest public performances of Randy Rhoads and Ozzy Osbourne came after theyd complete a song then go to a local pub to play the song for whoever was there. One such song, Crazy Train, appeared to get the audience moving, leading them to believe that they "had something". With ex-Uriah Heap members: Lee Kerslake (drums) and Bob Daisley (bass), the Ozzy Osbourne Band entered Ridge Farm Studios in Surrey, England on March 22 of 1980 and began recording for almost a month.

"Blizzard of Ozz" was originally to be mixed by Chris Tsangarides who was fired after one week because Ozzy felt that it "was not happening" with him. Max Norman, Ridge Farm Studios resident engineer, was then hired to pick up where Chris left off and would play an integral part of both Ozzy Osbourne studio albums and the live e.p., as well as later down the road with "Tribute". After the finishing touches had been put on "Blizzard of Ozz", Randy Rhoads returned home to California in May of 1980, where he teamed up one last time with the members of Quiet Riot at the Starwood club in Hollywood for their final show. However, this would not be the last time he played with Quiet Riot bassist Rudy Sarzo, who would later join Ozzy Osbournes band just before the start of the United States Blizzard of Ozz tour. Once back in England, the Ozzy Osbourne Band surfaced for their first "official" show on September 12, 1980 when 4,000 fans broke the box office record at the Apollo Theatre in Glasgow, Scotland. "Blizzard of Ozz" went straight into the U.K. charts at number 7 as they toured around the United Kingdom for close to three months playing 34 shows.

December of 1980 brought Randy Rhoads back home to California for Christmas. Once again Randy wanted a custom guitar built, this time he went to Grover Jackson of Charvel guitars, about a week before Christmas. With a drawing scribbled on a piece of paper, Randy Rhoads and Grover Jackson created the very first "Jackson" guitar to ever be made. Randys white "flying V" type guitar was yet another guitar that would become synonymous with the Randy Rhoads name. The finished guitar was sent to Randy in England about two months later.

During the months of February and March of 1981, the Ozzy Osbourne band once again entered Ridge Farm Studios to record their second album titled: "Diary of a Madman". With an impending United States tour to follow soon after the recording of "Diary of a Madman", the actual recording of the album became rushed. (Randys solo on "Little Dolls" was actually a "scratch" solo and was not intended to be the solo for the finished song.) None of the band members could be present for the mixing of "Diary of a Madman", which only furthered their already mixed feelings of the album.

With "Diary of a Madman" already recorded but not yet released, the Ozzy Osbourne Band began its North American tour in support of "Blizzard of Ozz", beginning in Towson, Maryland on April 22, 1981, one year and one month after the "Blizzard of Ozz" sessions began. Though they did not play on either studio efforts, Tommy Aldrige (drums) and Rudy Sarzo (bass) joined Ozzys band in time for the North American tour. They toured across North America from May through September of 1981 playing songs from "Blizzard of Ozz" as well as "Diary of a Madman", with a few Black Sabbath songs thrown in to close their shows. The month of June (1981) brought Randy back to the Los Angeles area for his first "local" show with Ozzy Osbourne at the Long Beach Arena. Choosing to headline their tour instead of going on a bigger tour as a support act paid off as "Blizzard of Ozz" went gold in 100 days, though in some of the smaller cities in the United States, their shows were threatened to be cancelled due to poor ticket sales. In one such city, Providence, Rhode Island, the Ozzy Osbourne Band (along with opening act Def Leppard) was informed by the concerts promoter that (due to poor ticket sales) he did not have enough money to pay either band.

Towards the end of the United States "Blizzard of Ozz" tour, Randy once again went to Grover Jackson to have another custom guitar made. He complained that too many people thought his white "Jackson" was a flying-V. He wanted something more distinctive. A few weeks later, Randy and Kevin DuBrow went to look at the unfinished guitar that Grover Jackson had begun work on. Once in the wood shop, Randy and Grover Jackson began drawing on this unfinished guitar for close to an hour before a final design was decided upon. There are two stories as to how the guitar was actually cut:

A.) As Grover Jackson cut the body to their design specifications, Randy waited in Grovers office, not wanting to watch it being cut.

B.) Grover Jackson put the unfinished guitar body on a bandsaw and cut a "chunk" out of it. Randy, watching, said, "yeah, yeah. Thats it!"

Ultimately they came up with a variation of his white "Jackson" only with a more defined look to the upper wing of the guitar. Randy would receive this guitar, the 2nd Jackson ever made, just before the start of the "Diary of a Madman" tour. At the time, there were three guitars being made for Randy. He recieved the first one, the black custom, as they continued to finish the other two. (Unfortunately, one of the "two" guitars, that were being built for Randy at the time of his death, was accidentally sold at a NAMM show by Grover Jackson. The "third" guitar, which Jackson stopped working on at the time of Randy's death, is currently owned by Rob Lane of Jacksoncharvelworld.com.)

Ironically, as with Quiet Riot, Randy Rhoads guitar playing would be heard on two full length albums and one e.p. while in Ozzy Osbournes band. The "Mr. Crowley" e.p. featured live performances of three songs (including: "You said it all", previously unreleased) recorded in October of 1980 in South Hampton, England, during the United Kingdom "Blizzard of Ozz" tour. ('You said it all' was actually recorded during the bands sound check, with the crowd noise added at the time of mixing.) It was said that at that time the "Mr. Crowley" picture disk became the biggest selling picture disk of all time and even earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.

With the release of the Ozzy Osbourne Band's second album, "Diary of a Madman", Ozzy Osbourne and Randy Rhoads (the only original member of Ozzys band) along with Rudy Sarzo and Tommy Aldrige traveled to Europe in November of 1981 for a tour that would end after only three shows. The tour had to be cancelled after Ozzy collapsed from both mental and physical exhaustion. The entire band went back to the United States so that Ozzy could rest. They would come back a little over a month later with a four month United States tour to start December 30, 1981 at the Cow Palace in San Francisco and a single (Flying high Again) that was making it's way up the charts.

Traveling with a crew of approximately 25 Las Vegas and Broadway technicians, Randy Rhoads went from selling out Los Angeles area clubs with Quiet Riot to selling out the biggest arenas in the United States on one of the most elaborate stage sets with Ozzy Osbourne. When the "Diary of a Madman" tour began, their first album, "Blizzard of Ozz", was selling at the rate of 6,000 records each week. Backstage opening night in San Francisco, Randy was awarded with Guitar Player Magazines Best New Talent Award. (He also won best new guitarist in Englands "Sounds" magazine.) With that, the band began an exhausting yet memorable tour that seemed to be plagued with problems. Their concerts were boycotted by many cities while others were attended by local S.P.C.A. officials due to claims of animal abuse. Meanwhile "Diary of a Madman" was well on its way to platinum status.

With all of this going on around him, Randy Rhoads interest for 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 Randy wanted to quit rock and roll temporarily so that he could attend school to get his masters in classical guitar. Randy also wanted to take advantage of some of the studio session offers he was recieving.

March 18, 1982, the Ozzy Osbourne band played what would be their last show with Randy Rhoads at the Civic Coliseum in Knoxville, Tennessee. From Knoxville, the band was headed to Orlando, Florida for Saturdays "Rock Super Bowl XIV" with Foreigner, Bryan Adams and UFO. On the way to Orlando they were to pass by the home of bus driver Andrew C. Aycock, who lived in Leesburg, Florida, at Flying Baron Estates. Flying Baron Estates consisted of 3 houses with an aircraft hanger and a landing strip, owned by Jerry Calhoun, who along with being a country & western musician in his earlier days, leased tour buses and kept them at the Estate. They needed some spare parts for the bus and Andrew Aycock, who had picked up his ex-wife at one of the bands shows, was going to drop her off in Florida.

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, Jay Duncan (their tour manager), Wanda Aycock, Andrew Aycock, Rachel Youngblood and Randy Rhoads. Andrew Aycock and his ex-wife, Wanda, went into Jerry Calhouns house to make some coffee while some members of Ozzy Osbournes 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 Beech model F35 (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 Aycocks 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 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 Orlandos "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.

Randy Rhoads guitar playing, however, could not be silenced as "Tribute" was released in 1987. "Tribute", recorded live, much of it in Cleveland, OH on May 11, 1981 and Randys solo in Montreal in July of 1981, continued to earn him recognition as a guitar virtuoso.

Ozzy Osbourne's first two solo albums featuring Randy Rhoads have sold over 6 million copies combined.

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