Randy grew up in Burbank and was a guitar prodigy who started at the age of six and taught at his mother's school.
During his professional career, he played in an early version of the successful 1980s heavy metal band "Quiet Riot", and was the original guitarist for heavy metal singer Ozzy Osbourne's solo band.
Known for combining classical and heavy metal music together, his work on Osbourne's first two solo albums "Blizzard of Ozz" and "Diary of a Madman" are hailed today for their ingenuity, and songs like "Crazy Train" and "Flyin' High Again" are considered heavy metal classics.
He gave the inspiration for Grover Jackson, founder of Jackson guitars, to start a guitar company.
Tragically, Randy was killed in a private plane crash in Leesburg, Florida at age 26.
MARCH 27, 2015 UPDATE
Read this great article about Randy today
RANDY RHOADS’ RIVALRY WITH EDDIE VAN WHO…AND THE RIFF THAT SAVED OZZY’S ASS
Whenever I hear ‘Crazy Train’ I’m immediately transported back to 8th grade Guitar class. One dude will forever be etched in my mind. Dave was 1/2 Japanese, all of about 5 ft tall, and probably weighed 80 lbs soaking wet, if that. His hair, alone worthy of open adoration, making up the bulk of his weight and height. This ‘Metal Mane’ was streaked, sprayed, and stood a good 6 inches above his head, cascading down to the middle of his back in perfectly teased strands. My 13 yr old brain could not fathom the ridiculous routine and expense this must have required. But damn if he didn’t more the rockstar part than 90% of the bands on the cover Cream and Hit Parader magazine. His bare arms were like sinewy, wire pipe cleaners. And I’d never seen jeans that tight in my life. Not even on a girl. No sir. I don’t know where the hell he found them, or how he breathed. The entire situation was delicately perched upon tiny black (or white) Capezio, soft-as-hell-leather lace-up dance shoes. Boom. Mind blown. Only a handful of dudes had the nuts to wear these. Dave’s look was definitely balls-out for West Phoenix. But nobody questioned him, because Dave was the reigning guitar badass. While the rest of us fumbled through the opening of ‘Stairway to Heaven’, Dave was staring at the ceiling tiles, biting his lip, soloing like the Segovia of Heavy Metal.
Dave even brought his own guitar to class. Lugged it around in a case thicker than him, covered in cool stickers. Rather that than play the nylon-strung acoustic beaters they had in class. I don’t remember what kind of acoustic it was, but the strings (always Dean Markley) were so light that you could hardly see them, let alone feel them. You had to lean in to hear a damn thing, but it was worth it. And the action was set so low that you could run scales faster than a hot knife through butter. But if you strummed it would buzz like crazy. No worries. No one was strumming shit. Everyone was shredding– with varying degrees of success. Dave was a Rock God in the making, and everyone at Maryvale High School seemed to sense it. Dave was into the hot, new Japanese Metal bands that no one else even heard of. And he spoke of Yngvie, Eddie, and Randy in hushed whispers like they were comrades. Knew all their solos and tricks, and could perform them on cue. Eruption, Spanish Fly, Dee, and of course, Crazy Train were all in his finely honed repertoire. We moved from Phoenix to Tempe that year, and I changed schools, so I don’t really know whatever became of Dave. But my fascination with the marvel and mystery of Randy Rhoads was firmly cemented. No head-banging hooligan. A sensitive, immensely talented man taken too soon.
“I never really got into Black Sabbath when I was in England. Right? And then Ozzy came out with this great first album, you know, it really was good. And we got to see them play after that, like almost every night. And so, Randy Rhoads, although being a wonderful guitar player, could not play Asteroids for shit. I beat him right across this country. From East coast, to West and back.
Randy Rhoads was like just, brilliant. You know, I mean of course he got better after he died. You know, because everybody does. Right? But uh, I loved Randy, yeah. He took risks. He wasn’t scared, you know. I mean, he knew his instrument, you know? So he’d just go for it. That’s what I used to like about him. And you could…like, Ozzy used to just throw him around, throw him up on his shoulders while he was playing. And he never missed a note.”
–Lemmy from Motorhead
Randy Rhoads pre-concert soundcheck –photo by John Livzey
“The very first time Randy Rhoads saw Van Halen, he took his girlfriend Jan with him. Jan told us that Randy was ‘devastated’ after the show. Here he was, the king of Burbank. Everyone was always telling him how great he was. Then he saw Eddie and it opened his eyes and he got a major reality check. It was healthy for him. He was inspired. He thought Eddie was great. He wanted to be great also. I know they met at least four times.
Quiet Riot and Van Halen played on the same bill at Glendale College in April 1977. Quiet Riot opened, Van Halen was the headliner. Randy once approached Eddie and asked him how he was able to keep his guitar in tune without a locking nut for his tremolo. Eddie refused to tell him and said it was his own secret. Randy couldn’t comprehend because he was a teacher at his core. He loved to help others and he was always willing to share anything he knew. He would teach anyone anything they wanted to learn. So, he was quite disappointed in Eddie’s treatment of him.”
“Randy and his good friend Lori Hollen were in the parking lot behind the Whisky loading his gear into this car. Eddie and Dave (DLR) pulled up alongside of them in a white Mercedes diesel and began harassing him. Lori quickly put a stop to it and actually slapped Dave across his face. Quiet Riot’s drummer, Drew Forsyth, has said that the Eddie/Randy rivalry has been made up to be so much more than it was. He also said that Eddie used to come watch Randy play way more than Randy used to go see Eddie play. They were both great, and I’m sure there was an immense amount of mutual respect. Randy told journalist John Stix that he does a lot of Eddie’s licks live, and it kills him that he does that. But he added that it’s just flash, and that’s what the kids want to see. That’s what impresses them. He also said that it kills him because he believes in the importance of finding your own voice and style. He thought the worst thing a guitar player could do was copy someone else.
Finally, when Randy was home on break from the Ozzy tour, he decided to drive to his local music store to buy some classical albums. Randy said that when he walked into the record store, Eddie Van Halen was standing on line at the register purchasing the Diary of a Madman album. Imagine that scene. Can you imagine walking into a record store on any given day and seeing both Eddie and Randy in there at the same time?”
“Randy was one in a billion. He didn’t try to be different. He was born different. I don’t think he dressed that way because his goal was to be different. He wore what he wanted to wear. He used to take his first girlfriend, Jan, with him when he shopped for shoes. He preferred the girl’s shoes, and he would have her try them on for him. Clearly, he was embarrassed to buy them for himself, and he knew he would get grief for wearing them. It didn’t matter to him. He was very committed to doing what he wanted to do. Sometimes it did get him into a lot of trouble, especially at school. He constantly had jocks wanting to beat him up. They called him names. It didn’t affect him. Randy may have been frail, but he was emotionally strong. It took more than names to rattle him. He just laughed at them.”
“One of the things Ozzy loved about Randy Rhoads was that he was a teacher at his core. He used to sit with Ozzy and help him. Randy would find the right key for songs so that Ozzy would feel more comfortable and within his singing range. They worked out melodies together. Ozzy would hum ideas to Randy, and he would, in turn, convert those melodies into songs. ‘Goodbye to Romance’ was created this way. When Randy would noodle or test sounds, Ozzy would say, ‘What was that?’ And Randy would say, ‘What?’ Ozzy would say, ‘Play that again’ – and sure enough, songs were born that way as well. ‘Suicide Solution’ and ‘Diary of a Madman’ were born that way.”
“I know Randy was a salvation for Ozzy. Ozzy was really down on his luck. He had just been thrown out of Sabbath. He was broke, constantly drunk, and basically living in squalor. Then, Randy Rhoads walked into his life. I am not so sure Ozzy was a salvation for Randy. I think Randy could take it or leave it. His arm had to be twisted to go to the audition, and when he was given the job, he didn’t want it. He didn’t want to hurt Quiet Riot and his friend Kevin DuBrow. Although they were frustrated and going nowhere, he was prepared to stick it out. He was not one to seek auditions, and I don’t think he would have quit had he never met Ozzy. So, I would have to conclude that Ozzy needed Randy way more than Randy needed Ozzy. This is evident at the end of Randy’s life. He informed the Osbournes he was quitting the band. Ozzy went crazy over this and begged Randy to stay. Randy had made up his mind and nothing was going to change it. Ozzy knew what he had. When they first got together in 1979, Ozzy would introduce Randy to people by saying, ‘This is Randy, my secret weapon.’ When they met producer Max Norman for the first time, Ozzy said to him, ‘Keep everything Randy records – don’t erase anything!’ Ozzy Osbourne is no dummy. He knew what he had.”
“The band had a great relationship with Ozzy. From the beginning, they were managed by Sharon’s brother, David Arden. He managed the band well. He was very attentive to their needs. It was ultimately David’s decision to bring Randy to England. David tried to convince Ozzy to find a guitarist in London who was local in order to make things easier. Ozzy begged and pleaded and said Randy was the only one he wanted. David acquiesced and sent Randy a ticket. When the band began working, they were all very close. Ozzy used to say to them, ‘Here’s my hand, here’s my heart, this band will never part.’ They recorded the ‘Blizzard of Ozz’ album, and then they began a U.K. tour.”
Randy Rhoads receiving the “Best New Talent” award from Guitar Player magazine with Ozzy and Sharon Arden (now Osbourne) proudly looking on, 1981.
“It was at this time that David had to resign because his daughter had been born prematurely and he was needed at home. This is when Sharon stepped in to replace him. She immediately got cozy with Ozzy and everything changed. When they revisited Ridge Farm to record the Diary of a Madman album, she became notorious for emptying everyone’s suitcases and throwing their personal belongings into the pond outside. Everyone who was there said the vibe changed when she arrived. Ozzy began divorce proceedings with his wife, Thelma, and succumbed to severe depression. He stopped attending writing and rehearsal sessions and drowned his sorrows in drugs and alcohol. The Diary album was nearly complete before the real problems began. It was during these recording sessions that the decision was made to fire Bob [Daisley] and Lee [Kerslake] in favor of younger, greener musicians who wouldn’t challenge authority. When Rudy [Sarzo] and Tommy [Aldridge] were brought in, the band was no longer called the ‘Blizzard of Ozz’ – it had now become an Ozzy Osbourne solo project, which is not what Randy signed up for. Randy expressed his displeasure with anyone who was willing to listen. Randy was no longer happy as a sideman. Add to that, Sharon placed Randy in a very uncomfortable position between herself and Ozzy, which she chronicles in her own book. This was about all he could take. He really just wanted to leave the band and that situation and move on with his life.”
Rudy Sarzo, Kevin DuBrow & Randy Rhoads in the Quiet Riot glory days. “We had one of the best guitar players EVER in our band and we couldn’t get arrested!” –Quiet Riot singer, Kevin DuBrow
“Randy Rhoads and Kevin DuBrow were the best of friends. Very close. Like brothers. Both became stars separately from each other. But the dream was they were going to do it together. They remained good friends even while Randy was with Ozzy. Kevin attended all the local Ozzy concerts and was invite to after-parties at the Osbournes’ house.”
“Kevin was domineering and Randy hated that. Randy tolerated it because he knew that that component of Kevin’s personalithy was the reason why they were so successful, locally. Those who knew Randy said that if not for Kevin, no one outside of Randy’s garage would have ever heard him play. Kevin was the driving force. Randy was not a go-getter. He just wanted to play and leave the details to others. He was also non-confrontational, which is why he put up with Kevin. It was easier for Randy to say nothing than to argue. Toward the end of 1979, Randy saw the writing on the wall. Music was changing. Disco, Punk, and New Wave had taken over. Randy and Kevin never really saw eye to eye musically. When he finally got settled in with Ozzy, he was happier because he felt he had more musical freedom. Ozzy was constantly telling him to, ‘go out there and be the best Randy Rhoads you can be.’ Ozzy wanted Randy to be a guitar hero. He wanted that explosive playing all over his records. Kevin stifled Randy and preferred poppy, catchy songs because he thought that’s what would ultimately get them a record deal.”
“One of the biggest myths around Jackson/Charvel guitars is that many think Grover Jackson or Wayne Charvel made the Randy Rhoads polka dot Flying V. Grover Jackson and Tim Wilson made the white Jackson V. Grover Jackson, Tim Wilson and Mike Shannon made the black Jackson V. And it was Karl Sandoval that actually made the famous Randy Rhoads Polka Dot Flying V. However Karl did work with Grover Jackson and Wayne Charvel for about a year or so. The guitar was ordered on 7/3/79 and completed on 9/22/79. It appeared to be a solid body neck-thru or set-neck construction, but was actually a Danelectro neck that had been glued to a Flying V body! The bow-tie fret inlays were simply routed on either side of the existing dot inlays. The pick-ups were DiMarzio PAF’s, Schaller tuners were installed, and white Gibson Les Paul control knobs were used.
Soon after Randy Rhoads brought the Flying V home the headstock was broken accidently when the strap was not secured to the guitar. Kevin DuBrow was there when it fell and Randy was devastated. He had worked very hard to save the money to buy the V. Karl Sandoval re-painted the neck after the repairs were done for free. Rumors have circulated that Randy had a lot of tuning problems because the Danelectro neck didn’t have a truss rod, but there sure are a lot of pictures that have been published with Randy playing this guitar. Randy did change the bridge, nut, knobs, and pick-up rings from chrome to black.” –via jacksoncharvelworld.net