written by Michael Oshust
Randy Rhoads came from a musical family. His parents, Delores and William, were both music teachers. Delores opened a music school in North Hollywood, California, called Musonia, to support the family. Randy took folk and classical guitar lessons at age seven at his mother's music school.
While in high school, Rhoads created a band called Violet Fox. The band played music from Mountain, the Rolling Stones, Alice Cooper and David Bowie. Live albums were popular, and Rhoads began to take note of the differences between studio recordings and the live versions, particularly the different solos guitarists incorporated when playing live. He began to memorize these licks and taught himself to play them later when he returned home.
At age 16, Rhoads formed the band Little Women. He recruited singer Kevin DuBrow and the band changed their name to Quiet Riot.
When Ozzy Osbourne separated from Black Sabbath following the release of 1978's Never Say Die, Osbourne decided to start a solo career in 1979. While he was in Los Angeles, Osbourne began looking for musicians. A friend of Rhoads told him to audition for Ozzy. Rhoads initially said to Rudy Sarzo that he was not interested in auditioning, but finally agreed to get his friend off his back. Randy received the call for the audition just before his final show with Quiet Riot on October 27, 1979.
When Randy showed up with his Gibson Les Paul and a practice amp, Rhoads started tuning up and playing some warmup riffs. Osbourne said of the audition, "He played this fucking solo, and I'm like, am I that fucking stoned, or am I hallucinating or what the fuck is this?!" Osbourne was immediately blown away by the guitarist's talent and said: "You've got the gig." Rhoads said, "Well, it was kind of strange. I walked in the studio and set up my equipment while Ozzy stayed in the control room. So I started to tune my guitar and play a few riffs from my guitar solo and then Dana Strum came into the room and told me I had the job!"
While writing songs for "Blizzard of Ozz", Rhoads combined his classical music influences with his heavy metal style. The group headed into the studio to record their debut album, titled "Blizzard of Ozz" where Osbourne encouraged Rhoads to play what he wanted. Following a UK tour, the band recorded their second album, "Diary of a Madman."
The Blizzard of Ozz tour included "I Don't Know," "Crazy Train," "Mr. Crowley," "Revelation (Mother Earth)," "Steal Away" and "Suicide Solution." "Believer" and "Flying High Again," from the soon-to-be-released Diary of a Madman record.
Rhoads played his last show on Thursday, March 18, 1982, at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum. The next day, the tour bus stopped in Leesburg, Florida, at the Flying Baron Estates to fix an air conditioning unit on the bus. On the property, there was an airstrip with small helicopters and planes. While there, the bus driver took a single-engine plane without permission. Randy Rhoads was afraid of flying but wanted to take some aerial photos of the countryside for his mother. He tried unsuccessfully to coax bassist Rudy Sarzo to join him on the flight, as Sarzo chose to get some extra sleep. At about 10 am, after being in the air for five minutes, one of the plane's wings clipped the top of the tour bus, breaking the wing into two parts and sending the plane spiralling out of control. The initial impact with the bus caused Rhoads' head to crash through the plane's windshield. The plane then severed the top of a pine tree and crashed into the garage of a nearby house bursting into flames.
Randy Rhoads was just 25. Serving as pallbearers at his funeral were Ozzy Osbourne, Doug Aldridge, Rudy Sarzo, and Randy's former Quiet Riot bandmate Kevin DuBrow.
On his tomb is the inscription "An inspiration for all young people."