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The following Biography is derived from the Official Randy Rhoads Website:
Randy Rhoads was born on December 6, 1956 at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica California
and died on March 19, 1982. From his birth until his death his life had centered around music.
His impact on the guitar world may never be fully understood, but his influence can be seen
through the many guitarist in the world of rock and roll, as well as the world of the classical
guitar, that list a major impact in their musical lives.
His full name is Randall William Rhoads. His love and understanding for music can rightfully be
traced back to his mother, Delores Rhoads, and to his introduction to music at such a young
age. Mrs. Rhoads has owned and operated the Musonia School of music in Burbank, CA since
1949. After graduating from UCLA with a bachelors degree in music she taught in the Los
Angeles School system before leaving to play professionally and to start her Musonia. Randy's
father was a music teacher himself, but he left when Randy was 17 months old, leaving Mrs.
Rhoads to raise her three children, Randy, Kellie and Kathy, and to head the music programs
Musonia school of Music, Burbank, CA.
Randy received his first guitar at age six and a half, it was an old Gibson classical acoustic
"Army-Navy" guitar that had belonged to his grandfather. Randy said later, "I just started trying
to figure out different things on my own, so by the time I started taking lessons I had a pretty
good idea of what to do." He began taking lessons with his sister Kathy at his side. To
compliment his guitar lessons Mrs. Rhoads gave Randy piano lessons to sharpen his skills at
reading music and to round out his musical education by building a strong foundation in music
In the beginning he studied folk and classical. Randy had little patience with his lessons,
probably because of his insatiable desire to explore new ideas and expand his knowledge rather
than stick to the basics. "I did not want to be bothered with technique and learning scales,"
Randy said, but it is apparent in his later works that not only did he learn these skills, but he
embraced them and took them to there highest level combining them ways that had never been
Ozzy Osbourne spoke often of Randy's innate ability to use his extensive knowledge of music in
combination with current style to push the level of musicality to new high and to explore paths
that had not yet been touched. Ozzy said, "...when we were working on the albums, I would
give him a melody and he would work a riff around it. Every hook he ever came up with I loved.
He was original. We discovered that most heavy metal bands stick to one key - I don't know
about keys or read music or really understand notes because I just get up there and scream
and jump around. ...He was so Intelligent when It came to music. I can't even read music, but
he knew everything. One Randy day he came to me and said that most heavy metal songs are
written in an A to E chord structure. He said, 'Let's try to change that' ...So we made a rule
that almost every number that we recorded on an album was never played in the same key." It
was this kind of creativity that has gained Randy a place in history as an innovator of Rock and
At Musonia, Randy had his first experience with group performance. Mrs. Rhoads created a
band-like setting focusing on a school orchestra model to prepare the student's for future
endeavors in the public system. Mrs. Rhoads later said, "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."
Mrs. Rhoads made sure that Randy had to read music and perform as a part of the Musonia
program. "To play in my little group that I had even way back then, he read the charts when he
played. They called them charts; I just called it music in those days. But he had to read,
because he couldn't play in the group unless he read. And then I worked with him when he was
very young. I gave him some piano lessons, so he had to learn to read. I always make my
students count very accurately and read properly and do everything the right way, so he had
some help in that."
"Randy grew up musically in my school," Mrs. Rhoads said in an interview, "I am sure he was
influenced by this in many ways. He started when he was so young, he was somewhere
between six-and-a-half and seven when he started lessons. In those days, way back then, we
started them with the folk guitar where they learned the chords and a few pop songs."
Delores recalls Randy being different from other musicians, both young and old, "he played with
feeling, which was so important.... he would say 'let's play with real feeling even though were
just playing for enjoyment'," Randy's dedication was apparent from the start. He played sports
and enjoyed all the things a junior high school child would do, but his music was always the first
thing in his mind. His brother Kellie Rhoads, who played in one of Randy's first rock groups,
remembers, "All Randy ever wanted to do was play the guitar. I don't remember him ever saying
wanted to do anything else. I can remember a time before he played guitar."
Randy soon gained interest in electric guitar, "I had an old Harmony down there and the guitar
was almost larger than he was." said Mrs. Rhoads, "it was a semi-acoustic, and he started on
that. I, fortunately, had a very good electric guitar teacher at that time - Scott Shelly. He was
very good, and that was fortunate because he was a good teacher and gave Randy a very
good start. He made him play a lot of scales, made him use violin books for scale material. It
was only about a year when Scott came to me and said, 'Well, I've taught Randy everything I
can, he knows everything I can teach him.' I said, 'Oh, come on, you're just putting me on.' I
thought he was teasing me, but he really meant it, that's the truth."
Randy attended 1st Lutheran School in Burbank and went on to attend John Muir Jr. High
School. His High School program was condensed at Burbank High when he graduated from a
special program so that he could pursue his music. He received all A's and B's in High School,
but he wanted to continue with his musical education and to teach at his mothers school so he
choose to graduate early and begin his career.