Personalities | Randy Rhoads | Quiet Riot to Ozzy | Guitar Heroes

Randy Rhoads (1956–82) had a career that lasted only six years. He played with Quiet Riot and Ozzy Osbourne before dying in a plane crash in 1982.

But his guitar style, which included classical influences, opened up new directions in heavy metal, and he was an acknowledged influence on a subsequent generation of guitarists, including Zakk Wylde. Rhoads also played with Warren DeMartini (Ratt), George Lynch (Dokken) and Alex Skolnick (Testament).

William Randall Rhoads, born in Santa Monica, California, grew up with a strong musical background. His mother owned a music school in Hollywood. Rhoads was learning acoustic guitar by the age of seven and played in various bands from the age of 14. He formed Quiet Riot in 1976 with friend and bassist Kelly Garni and vocalist Kevin DuBrow.

The band gained a strong following in Los Angeles, but they were unable to get a US record deal, signing instead with Columbia in Japan. Neither Quiet Riot (1977) nor Quiet Riot II (1978) was released in America. In 1979, Rhoads successfully auditioned for Ozzy Osbourne, who was recruiting for a new band, and came to the UK to record Blizzard Of Ozz (1980). Rhoads co-wrote seven tracks, including ‘Mr Crowley’ with its ‘neo-classical’ guitar solo, and ‘Crazy Train’, with a guitar riff that has been regularly used on American sports programmes. He also wrote the intricate acoustic solo ‘Dee’.

The band toured Britain, where the album went Top 10. Rhoads co-wrote every track on their second album Diary Of A Madman (1981), including ‘Flying High Again’, on which his compact solo ushered in a new style of 1980s metal guitar. The band toured the US during the summer of 1981 and commenced another four-month schedule at the end of the year as sales of both albums took off. On 19 March 1982, Rhoads was killed when a plane in which he was a passenger clipped the tour bus and crashed in Leesburg, Florida. A live album, Tribute, recorded in 1981, was released in 1987 and Joel McIver’s Rhoads biography, Crazy Train: The High Life and Tragic Death of Randy Rhoads, was published in 2011.

During his career Rhoads had three guitars custom-made for him. The first was a black and white polka dot Flying V made by Karl Sandoval, the second was a white Flying V made by Grover Jackson of Charvel Guitars, the third was a variation of the first Jackson guitar in black. As a tribute to Rhoads, Marshall Amplification released the 1959RR in 2008. The amp is a limited-edition, all-white Marshall Super Lead 100-watt head modeled after Randy’s own Super Lead amp.

Essential Recordings

Quiet Riot: Quiet Riot

with Ozzy Osbourne: Blizzard Of Ozz

with Ozzy Osbourne: Diary Of A Madman

with Ozzy Osbourne: Tribute

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