Friday, 20. October 2017
Home Bio
Randy Rhoads Biography - Early Years
Article Index
Randy Rhoads Biography - Early Years
Randy Rhoads Biography - The L.A. Scene
Randy Rhoads Biography - Quiet Riot Years
Randy Rhoads Biography - The Ozzy Years
All Pages

The following Biography is derived from the Official Randy Rhoads Website:

Beginning:

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.


Early Years:

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
theory.

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
done before.

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
Roll.

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.

 




LA Scene:

Randy's first rock band was with his brother Kellie Rhoads who would later go on to form his own
band during and after Randy's death. "We got the group together when Randy was about 14
and named it Violet Fox after my mother's middle name, Violet. I played drums. Randy played
rhythm guitar on a big red Ovation; at that time, he didn't think he'd ever be a lead player. This
band was together for four or five months, and we played some parties and some little shows at
my mom's school."

"By the time he was 13 or 14, his little group was playing for parties and picnics, in the park,
and down on the Burbank Mall. He was playing a lot by then. I used to go with him and load up
the equipment.," Mrs. Rhoads recalls.

Kellie remembers Randy's attendance at his first rock concert as a defining point in his life. In
1971 they attended an Alice Cooper concert and it was then that Randy realized where his life
could go. Kellie recalls, "He never saw anything like it, and he couldn't talk for four hours. I think
that kind of showed him what he could do with his talent, and that's partly what made him
decide to play rock. Before that, he played rock guitar and I played drums, but we never really
thought about it."

It was soon after this that Randy found his own stage experience confirming his desire to play
Rock and Roll, "When I first got up and played for people, it was a fluke. These guys used to
jam on a mountain in Burbank, and I thought that I wanted to get up and play. When I first did
it, people started clapping. A friend had shown me the beginning blues scale. That sort of
showed me how to connect the barre chords to a little scale. From then on, it was just
add-ons."

The Rhoads family couldn't afford many luxuries while Randy was growing up. With the
responsibility of running Musonia and raising three children Mrs. Rhoads could not even afford a
hi-fi system or television. In a way this may have inadvertantly helped shape Randy's style. He
couldn't listen to much music at home and at Musonia he was constantly surrounded by
classical music and other styles far from rock-n-roll. So Randy forced to develop musically on his
own and find his own guitar style before real exposure to rock-n-roll.

When Randy was about 16 he started teaching at Musonia. He was a very popular teacher from
the start. He understood his students completely and related with them very well. "They would
come out of the room walking on clouds because of the good experience," said Mrs. Rhoads.
This was the first time Randy had a chance to study other guitarists and copy their licks and it
was then that he began to develop his own rock style. Randy spoke of this later in an interview,
"The way I started to get a style was by teaching. People wanted to learn everybody's licks,
and a first that was okay. Then I thought, 'Wait a minute - you've got to get your own style.'
So I started combining what they wanted to learn with a bit of technique. Every day with every
student I'd learn something. When I started to get a lot of students, I thought, 'Enough with
the licks. I'm going to have to get them to learn to find themselves.'"

Randy said later in an interview, "When you teach something to a student, it clicks in your
head. You may find the answer to another problem you have been trying to figure out. I taught
eight hours a day, six days a week, every half hour a different student. I had little kids,
teenagers, and even some older people. When you sit there and play all day long, you're going
to develop a lot of speed. I learned to read, too, but I have to look at it, think about it, and
then play it. About the third time I do a piece, I can read it. I think half of your sound comes in
the way you play. A lot of it is in your hands. If you practice with a lot of muting and then go
out and do it louder onstage, you've still got the same sort of sound. You can't be lazy. You
have to want to play. You have to love the guitar. I did. As a matter of fact, I was afraid of
competition because I thought that everybody was better than I was. It was so close to me, I
thought everybody was great. Therefore I couldn't copy licks; I just learned my own."

One of Randy former students, Keith Baim, not only attributes Randy for helping him with
developing his own style but in teaching him to feel and express the music from within himself.
He took lesson with Randy for about six months at Musonia. "I was extremely fond of Randy and
had a great deal of respect for him, as did his other students, who numbered in the forties or
more. Randy had much more than talent; He had charisma. He was friendly, and, above all,
enjoyed teaching and helping others to become better players. He'd almost always run late, and
we would spend about half an hour a week laughing, talking, and learning. He would say, 'Keith,
make your guitar part of you. use it to express how you feel.' He emphasized that phrasing is
the most important aspect of one's playing: 'People don't talk in monotone, and you shouldn't
play guitar that way. Accent your playing.' He worked very hard with me to help me develop my
own style. Needless to say, he was a huge influence and was more inspiration than is
imaginable."

 




Quiet Riot Years:

One of his best friends in the early days when was Kelly Garni. Kelly and Randy started playing
together around 1971 and eventually formed Quiet Riot together after combining their talents in
many other bands including Milfred Pierce, the Katzenjammer Kids and Mammoth. When they
met, Randy had already started to form his own style and by age 13 Randy was already making
older guitarists "look bad" with guitar playing that far exceeded his age.

Garni lists Randy's major influences in those days as Glenn Buxton of Alice Cooper and Mick
Ronson of David Bowie. I was then that Randy started experimenting with "weird noises" and
"strange sounds" that would become part of the Rhoads sound copied by many guitarists even
today. This music was reminiscent of Buxton. According to Garni it was at this time when Randy
created a lot of the trademark licks and Erie sounds found on his later albums with Quite Riot
and Ozzy. Kelly and Randy would routinely spend all week looking for a gig and then every
weekend playing at a party in someone's backyard in Burbank. They hardly ever got paid for the
gigs, but the music was the most important thing. Garni said of the early days, "When Randy
played they all jumped to attention....Even though it was only a backyard, he put such a good
show that you felt like you were at a coliseum at a major rock gig. He knew how to dazzle an
audience."

During these years Randy and Kelly became well known in the area and created a quite a local
reputation for themselves which helped launch their next band Quiet Riot. In 1975 Randy and
Kelly formed Quiet Riot. After years of backyard bands they wanted something more "formal". So
they audition for a lead singer and found Kevin DuBrow. Kevin's audition was held in the kitchen
at Mrs. Rhoads house. She remembers the day well, "Kevin saying, 'Well if you don't like me just
say so and I'll leave.' Randy and Kelly said, 'Now wait a minute, there are probably some things
we have to work out. Let's talk about it.' That was actually the very first day for Quiet Riot."

Kevin recalled that day in a later interview, "He was just 17 at the time; I was 18. He had hair
down to his waist and a thumbnail about four inches long. I looked at him and thought, 'No way
can this guy play.' But I figured what the hell, and went over to his house to hear him play
through this tiny amp. He plugged in, and I thought that my head was being plastered against
the wall; every lead that I could ever imagine - he played them better than anybody I'd ever
heard on record."

Randy and Garni worked with Kevin until they decided to add him to the line-up. The original
band members of Quite Riot included Randy on guitar, Kelly Garni on bass, Kevin DuBrow on
vocals and Chris Forsyth on Drums.

Within a year Quiet Riot was the hottest band around. Soon they were regulars at "Starwood" in
Santa Monica. Still playing basically for free, but to them the music was all that mattered. In
the early days in the rock scene groups wrote most of their own music and "Aside from playing
guitar," Garni said, "Randy came up with a lot of the songs, too... Randy would come up with an
idea and then we'd all jump on it; I think that's how a lot of bands go about. Randy was a very
prolific writer, too - he'd always have something new. In the early years he and I came up with
a lot of riffs to jam on, but later on when Kevin came in and he and Randy wrote most of the
songs."

Quite Riot performed four or five gigs a week and soon created enough excitement that they
landed a record deal with Japan's CBS Sony record label. As Garni put it in a later interview,
"Well, we scored the deal to do the two Japanese albums and they did very well over there. I
still have a stack of letters from fans there and we got some big write-ups in the magazines,
too. They kept calling us the 'Next Big Thing' and the 'New Sound' in music."

After the success of the Japanese albums Quiet Riot tried to no avail to put together a tour and
to land an American record contract. "The only thing that was bad about it was that the
records were never out here. So, it kind of made feet like you really never had a record deal.
You got the record and you were able to look at it, but you sure as hell couldn't go in some
record store and buy it because, back then, imports weren't really that big of a thing," said
Garni.

In 1978-9 Garni left the band to pursue a career as a paramedic. It was then that Rudy Sarazo
joined the group as the new bassist and although he appeared on the cover picture of Quiet
Riot II album, he didn't play on either of the Japanese releases.

A few months before the breakup of Quite Riot Randy went to the guitar workshop of Karl
Sandoval and asked him to make a guitar for him. Sondoval created one of Randy's trademark
polk-a-dot guitars. As Sandoval and Randy had several meetings to discuss the creation of the
now famous guitar. Randy had drawn pictures of the new instrument and had all the details of
the guitar well thought out. The shape as well as the color of his new guitar would, from then
on, be associated with Randy. He wanted a Flying V shape, tremolo unit, double humbucking
pickups, and one volume and one tone control per pickup. Sandoval described the guitar in
detail in a later interview, "The guitar has an old '60's non-adjustable Danelectro neck that has
been shaved and modified to look somewhat like an arrowhead. It has a rosewood fingerboard
and a wide, flat feel. The action is very comfortable. The tuners are standard Schallers. The
thing that was different about it was the Strat-style side-mount jack underneath the V section,
which was one of his ideas. he also wanted the toggle switches at the end of the wing. Polka
dots were used because they were like his trademark, and the inlay on the fingerboard is
supposed to resemble bow ties. Both of these were his ideas, too."

Quite riot had a large following in the years with Sarazo. Rudy later said that Randy was the
"focal point of the band" his polk-a-dot theme expressed in his guitar and his clothing was
copied by many of his fans. "It was great! ...you'd see a bunch of little kids with his haircut
wearing little polka dot bow ties and vests, trying to be like him. And then there were a lot of
clone Randy Rhoads guitar players in bands," Sarazo said.

Quite Riot eventually broke up in 1980. Randy thought at the time that Quiet Riot might make it,
but later, during his tour with Ozzy he said, "...now that I'm away, I knew it wouldn't. I have to
say that. It was kind of like I was growing up at the time and didn't know it. There's a lot more
room for guitar in this band than in Quiet Riot,"

Sarazo said later. "[We] didn't do much traveling - we went from Oxnard down to Riverside. We
mainly were an LA club band, doing weekends at the Starwood or Golden West Ballroom. We
didn't get an American record deal, which is one of the reasons why Quiet Riot broke up."

"That was frustrating," Randy stated. "We thought we were good, yet the
record companies kept turning us down. We thought the success of Van Halen would help us,
but actually It hurt. Most of the record company people would say, We don't want the second
LA. metal band. 'That's why we released the albums In Japan. There's a big market for rock and
roll there, and at that time we were just thrilled to get our records out no matter where It was."

 




Ozzy:

Randy got the call for the Ozzy audition just before the last Quiet riot gig. Ozzy Osbourne,
formerly of Black Sabbath, had recently broke from the group and was looking for a guitarist.
Although Randy had not been much of a fan of Ozzy he accepted the invitation and went for
the audition. Mrs. Rhoads talked to Randy before about the possibility of him playing with an
already established band if was offered the chance would he take a gig like this one and Randy
answer was "of course." Now was Randy's opportunity.

Ozzy had gone through scores of guitarists in Los Angeles and New York and the night before he
was scheduled to leave for England Randy showed up at his motel room in Malibu at 2 o'clock in
the morning for the audition. Most of the guitarists before had shown up with Marshall stacks,
big attitudes and one even had black plastic fingertips imitating Ozzy's former black Sabbath
guitarist Toni Iommi. But Randy stood out from the rest by his calm and unimposing demeanor.
He brought in a little amp and plugged in and began to play. Randy recalled later, "I just tuned,
up and did some riffs, and he said, 'You've got the gig.' I had the weirdest feeling, because I
thought, 'You didn't even hear me yet.'" Randy elaborated later in another interview, "Possibly
he knew a certain sound he was looking for, and all these other players tried to show off too
much. I didn't get a chance to show off. I just started making a few harmonics, and maybe
perhaps it was my personality, because I was really quiet and everybody was too outgoing. I
still don't know."

It took two months for the details to get worked out and then Randy was off to London as the
lead guitarist of the newly formed Blizzard of Ozz. They arrived in England in September of 1980
and began working on their first album. They were in the studio for six weeks writing and
recording the first of two studio albums featuring Randy and by Christmas it was complete.

Ozzy and Randy had a great rapport together from the start. The differences in their respective
musical approaches filled in the gaps in each others abilities and they became an extremely
complimentary writing team. Ozzy had the experience in studios and techniques of song writing
and Randy's fresh approach and creativity added to the unique quality of their first album
"Blizzard of Ozz", an LP of a sort that had never been heard. Randy's patience and solid
musicianship drove Ozzy to a new creative high. "They [Black Sabbath] never had the patience
to try and listen to where I was coming from. Randy Rhoads was the first guy who ever sat
down with me and listened to my humming and worked with it," Ozzy said.

Randy was a patient creator, much the opposite of Ozzy. Ozzy once said, "Randy I'm stumped
on this section and we're gonna need a track for the album and it's driving me nuts." And Randy
would comfort Ozzy with the reply, "Don't worry we'll get one." Ozzy would later attribute the
success of his solo the success and the success of the first two albums to Randy. He later said
of Randy, "I fell in love with Randy as a player and a person the instant I saw him. He had the
best smile in the world. Randy was the best guy in the world to work with. There is no
comparison between him and Tony Iommi, and I can only compare the two because they were
the only guitar players I had ever worked with. I was attracted to Randy's angelic attitude
towards the whole business. I didn't have to teach him anything; all that he was lacking was
guidance. He listened to every word I spoke to him, and we had a great rapport together."

When the first tour began the crowds would cheer for Ozzy, but soon an equal amount of the
audience was coming to see the newest sensation in rock-n-roll - Randy Rhoads. "Together we
were magic." Ozzy said, "...we had a very
special rapport. We were total opposites off stage - he didn't drink and was
quiet, while I've always been [crazy] ...yet on stage we just clicked."

Ozzy's insane stage presence helped Randy open up more and give even a greater performances
than in the past. "Before I met Ozzy I was very insecure on stage," Randy said. "If my amps
acted up, or the sound system wasn't good, it really affected my playing. Being with Ozzy has
given me a great deal of self confidence. He pushed me into trying things and doing things I
never would have done on my own."

Randy never considered himself a rock and roll star. He always felt strange with that label. "I've
always viewed myself as a musician. I never
thought of myself as a star. Ozzy's a star - I'm just part of the band," Randy would say. The
critics opinions didn't matter to much to the new guitar icon. He was quoted as saying "As long
as I'm satisfied with my work, I'm not too concerned with what any critics think. Our type of
music will never be a critical favorite, but when I can stand on a stage and see a lot of smiling
faces in the crowd, it makes it all worthwhile." The audience was the most important critic and
as long as they were happy Randy was.

Their next album, Diary of a Madman was recorded immediately after their Blizzard. "We
recorded Diary quickly," Ozzy said, "I hate being in a recording studio to begin with, but working
with Randy and Bob Daisley was a new and refreshing experience for me. I was working with
guys that didn't have to do it, they wanted to do it. I got that old spark again. Diary was the
better of the two albums as songs go. The mix wasn't too clever but we weren't there for the
mix, we were back out on the road."

On the road Randy was known for his stellar live performances. "Some nights Randy would give
me a spine chill. His playing was so unpredictable live. He wouldn't think about it, he would just
go for it. He wouldn't wonder if it would fit the song structure, he would just play his ideas as if
they were there anyway." Ozzy later said.

Several weeks before his death Randy express interest in leaving Ozzy to pursue a degree in
classical guitar at a University setting. During the Diary tour he said to Ozzy "I want to learn to
play classical guitar." I said, 'You're crazy, just play rock and roll and make some bucks." He
said, "I want to do it." So he started going to these seminars. Every town we'd go into, he'd
look in the phone book for classical instructors. Seven weeks later, the classical stuff he was
playing was unbelievable. Seven weeks. He worked around the clock to get where he wanted."


March 1982:

Associated Press

March 20, 1982, Leesburg, Fla. A small plane crashed into a
mansion here and burst into flames yesterday, killing the lead
guitarist of the Ozzy Osbourne rock group and two other people,
police said.

The crash killed guitarist Randall Rhoads, 25, the pilot of the
Beechcraft Bonanza - Andrew Aycock, 36 - and Rachel Youngblood,
58, the group's makeup artist and hairdresser. The plane's pilot
was also the group's bus driver.


Randy was 25 years old and at the beginning of an illustrious career when a freak accident
ended his life. An unplanned airplane excursion ended in a crash into the Ozzy Osbourne tour
bus bringing to a screeching halt the Diary of a Madman tour and the life of one of the most
innovative guitarists of our time. Ozzy tried to explain what happened in a later interview, "I
was sleeping on the bus. Don Airey saw it. At first I thought the bus driver had fallen asleep at
the wheel, crashed into a truck and run off the road. The plane ripped the bus into a million
pieces. All we've got are fragments. ... It was no prank. It was an accident and that's it. For
God's sake, if I ever hear anybody say it was one of my practical jokes that went wrong, I'll
strangle the bastard. It was an accident, a horrible accident. I was crazy after it happened. I
never spoke, I never went out. ... He was a hero, a true legend. "

"He was a saint," Ozzy said, "He was an angel, and too good for this world. His death's always
on my mind." Every year at the anniversary of his birth and death, fans from all over the world
gather at his grave site to honor his passing. We will never forget him. His musical legacy lives
on in the minds and music of his many fans.

 

Immortal RR

immortal rr

RRR Volume 1 CD

rrcd

Randy Rhoads DVD

rhoadssobol