A tribute to Randy Rhoads, one of the world’s greatest guitarists
By Eric Wilkins, Staff Writer
March 19, 1982: Guitarist Randy Rhoads, tour bus driver Andrew Aycock, and hairdresser/seamstress Rachel Youngblood took a joyride in a small plane while en route to a festival. The flight would turn out to be the last thing any of the three ever did, as it went down in flames.
That tragic flight was later revealed to be aided by the fact that Aycock, who was flying the plane, had been on cocaine at the time. Additionally, Rhoads boarded despite his fear of flying, and Youngblood’s heart condition certainly made the event a cocktail for disaster. On that day, 30 years ago, three lives were lost in one of the most unnecessary and gruesome of fashions.
But Rhoads’ light has not faded since his untimely death. Despite passing away at the young age of 25, and having (by comparison to other guitarists) relatively little recorded material, Rhoads has continued to be viewed as one of the greatest guitarists of all time.
While Rhoads had enjoyed his time in previous groups, namely Quiet Riot, which saw the release of two records in Japan, his shot at North American fame was not to come until 1980. Ozzy Osbourne had just been kicked out of Black Sabbath due to his many highly publicized addictions. Osbourne then set out to create a new group, and while auditioning guitarists, happened to have the young Rhoads come by. “He plugs in his amp and starts doing these finger exercises. I almost cried he was so good,” said Osbourne in his 2010 autobiography, I Am Ozzy. With that brief and highly erratic (on Osbourne’s part) audition, Rhoads became the new guitarist for Osbourne’s “solo” project, The Blizzard of Ozz.
It was during his time with Osbourne that Rhoads finally got to shine. With Quiet Riot, Rhoads’ desire to incorporate the classical scales he had learned so well as a child was more or less stifled. However, with Osbourne, it was a completely different story; Rhoads was given the creative freedom he needed, allowing him to help develop the sound that would later become known as neo-classical metal. Such was with one of Rhoads’ best known contributions during that time, which would result in the timeless classic, “Crazy Train.”
Rhoads has since always been viewed as a prolific guitarist. While his time in the spotlight was a flash in the pan in the grand scheme of things, he has managed to leave a lasting impression on the music world that will not soon (if ever) be forgotten. Rest in peace, Randy.