It’s hard to
believe that it’s been over 30 years since the music world was rocked
with the tragic loss of Randy Rhoads, the lead guitarist in Ozzy
Osbourne’s Blizzard of Oz band. Alongside Eddie Van Halen, Rhoads led
the 80’s wave of exceptionally talented hard rock players. Their style
and dexterity helped to define and transform the shape and scope of
heavy metal music. His remarkable playing was a wily confluence of
influences, ranging from rock, classical and blues. The results of that
wide stylistic swath can be heard in his fiery and acrobatic guitar
playing that powers such enduring jewels as “Crazy Train,” “Over the
Mountain,” Flying High Again” and “Goodbye to Romance,” amongst others.
new book, Randy Rhoads (Velocity Book/$99) celebrates the
guitarist’s all-too short career. The product of years of rigorous
research, the 400-page oversized hardback book, authored by renowned
music scribe Steven Rosen and Andrew Klein, is a work of art. An
absorbing and comprehensive portrait of the life of one of music’s most
gifted guitar players, this beautiful tome is teeming with engrossing
text, rare memorabilia and hundreds of photographs, creating the most
comprehensive look at the life and legacy of Randy Rhoads. It is highly
Ken Sharp spoke with co-author and resident Randy Rhoads expert Andrew
Klein for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at this landmark project.
This is the first
major book on Randy Rhoads. Take us through what fans of Randy can
expect from this project in terms of text, visuals and rare
In terms of text,
the book is comprised of fourteen chapters, a prologue, foreword, intro,
and epilogue. We start in chapter one with some brief family history and
learn more about Randy's life and career as the chapters progress. We
also devote a chapter to his gear and another to his legacy. One of my
favorites is chapter 14, which profiles many of rock's most gifted
photographers. Each shares their own story and memories of what it was
like to see Randy in action through their respective lenses. Chapter
five is one that people will enjoy as well: it focuses on the women in
Randy's life. Randy's first serious girlfriend, Jan McGuire, and of
course, the woman who spent the last five years of his life with him and
was engaged to marry him, Jodi Raskin-Vigier. We spent considerable
time with Jodi in preparation of this book and she was kind enough to
share all of her memories with us. There were a few other women in
Randy's life; however, their stories are as brief in our book as their
relationships were with him. It’s also worth mentioning that a major
contributor to our book was a woman named Lori Hollen. Lori was the
Quiet Riot fan club president and one of Randy's closest friends.
Although it was strictly a platonic relationship, she was closer to
Randy than anyone. Her stories bring us closer to Randy than we ever
dreamed we could get. He told her everything; how he felt about Quiet
Riot, Ozzy, his girlfriends, his career and his life in general. She
was his confidant.
In terms of
visuals, we hope that we have given the fans what they want. Randy was
so charismatic. People love to look at his pictures. As we all know,
there was something about him. He had it - we all have our own
definitions of what it is, but whatever it is, he had it big
time! So, our book has more than 400 pages. In all honesty, I don't
know how many photos there are in the book. We tried to add something
special to every page. We wanted to avoid creating full pages of text,
when possible. We, along with our graphic designer, Denny Anderson,
wanted every single page to be visually exciting and different from one
another. In my humble opinion, each page of the book is a work of art.
Many, many hours were spent designing each page, and each were carefully
planned and thought out, which is why the book took so many years to
create. We redesigned some of the pages multiple times until we were
completely happy. That's how much we cared. We really wanted to create
something special that would stand the test of time and be worthy of
Randy; something that would honor him and his legacy.
Our senior editor,
Peter M. Margolis was a friend and guitar student of Randy's. Peter
really brought out the best in us and forced us to maximize our
abilities. Nothing less than perfect is acceptable to him, which is one
of the many reasons why I know he was the right guy for the job. Fans
get super excited when they see images of Randy they have never seen
before. Hopefully there are some images in the book that will be
considered rare. Many of Randy's closest friends and even some of his
band mates were kind enough to allow us to use their photos. Lori
Hollen and Jodi Vigier-Raskin were gracious in opening their vaults as
well. The book includes many familiar photos that have been published
multiple times. We hope that we have presented them in a new or
artistic way that will offer a fresh perspective. In terms of
memorabilia, we have presented some goodies that fans will enjoy.
Itineraries, tickets, flyers, backstage passes, handwritten notes, track
sheets, and legal documents. Randy sent a post card to Jodi every
single day he was away with Ozzy for two and a half years. Sometimes he
would send more than one in a day. Letters were sent to her constantly
as well. We spent many long days with Jodi reading every single one of
them. For me, as a fan, it was a real treat. For Jodi, the love of
Randy's life, I could see the pain on her face. You never get over it.
You can learn to live with the reality of losing a loved one, but the
pain never goes away. When she dumped the post cards out of a box onto
her coffee table, they were stacked several feet high. We were able to
use some of that information to help us write his story from his
perspective and get a better understanding of how Randy felt about many
things; his band mates, old friends, and his future. Clearly, the
letters show that he treasured Jodi and the special bond they shared.
If there is such a thing as soulmates, Jodi and Randy exemplified what
While Randy was a
member of Quiet Riot, he found fame as a member of Ozzy Osbourne's
Blizzard of Oz. How did a local hot shot L.A. guitar player wind up in
This story has
been told so many times that it’s become a thing of rock legend.
However, there are many details about these events in our book that have
never before been shared publicly. Dana Strum, a local L.A. bassist,
was kind enough to share his story with us. Dana had become friendly
with Ozzy, who had recently been thrown out of Black Sabbath. Dana was
selected to be the bassist in a solo band that Ozzy was putting
together. Dana was also put in charge of finding the next hotshot
guitar player for Ozzy. As the story goes, everyone walked in trying to
play like Tony Iommi and Jimi Hendrix. Dana, who was well familiar with
Quiet Riot and Randy, became obsessed with connecting Randy and Ozzy.
He was certain that Randy was the right guy. Dana obtained Randy's
phone number from a mutual friend and began hounding Randy night after
night until Randy finally agreed to meet them at Dirk Dalton's studio in
Santa Monica. Randy showed up late at night with his cream Les Paul and
Fender practice amp. All Ozzy wanted to do was go home. He was tired
and intoxicated and tired of meeting with and listening to guitar
players. Randy began playing his solo from a Quiet Riot song called
"Laughing Gas" and Ozzy told Dana to tell Randy that he has been given
the job. Ozzy then walked out of the studio while Randy was still
basically warming up. Dana ran outside after Ozzy to make sure he got
into the car okay and to say goodbye. Randy was left alone in the
studio and was still playing when Dana returned. Because it was dark
and Randy couldn't see through the other side of the glass, he was
unaware that he was alone nearly the entire time. Randy didn't get to
meet Ozzy on that October evening in 1979. They actually met for the
first time the very next day at LeParc in West Hollywood, a hotel where
Ozzy was staying. The drummer that was chosen to complete the lineup
was none other than Frankie Banali, who would later join Quiet Riot.
For many reasons, which are explained in the book, Randy was the only
one who ultimately played in Ozzy's new band. Ozzy and Randy would soon
be joined by bassist Bob Daisley and drummer Lee Kerslake.
The '80s produced
a large number of high profile metal guitarists yet only two guitar
players - Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhoads - have gained cred and
furthered their legacy through the years? Can you explain?
There were a
number of incredible guitar players from that era. Eddie and Randy were
not only the first, they were at the top in terms of innovation,
original sound, and technical ability. Each came out doing something
fresh and new. Most of the guitar players that followed did just that.
Each was either an Eddie clone or Randy sound-alike. Yngwie Malmsteen
was really the next guy to come out and take his seat next to Eddie and
Randy. I think Randy would have loved what Yngwie was doing, especially
on his first solo venture Rising Force. Many Randy aficionados
imagine that a Randy Rhoads solo record would have possibly featured
that same combination of hard rock and ripping classical. Both Eddie
and Randy's legacies are well preserved because the cream always rises
to the top. Mozart and Beethoven will never be forgotten. They and
their music will forever be revered, examined and replayed. Same for
Eddie and Randy. They are the only two from that generation of guitar
players who were at that level. Both reinvented the guitar. I don't
think that will ever happen again in terms of rock guitar playing.
background as a guitar player - teaching student at the Rhodes' family
music school, Musonia Studios. How did his background as a teacher help
shape his style and approach as a player?
with the guitar began when he was seven years old. He found a Gibson
Army-Navy acoustic in his mother's closet that belonged to his
grandfather. From that day forward, he would rarely be seen without a
guitar in his hands for the rest of his life. Both Randy's parents were
accomplished musicians and music teachers. The guitar or some other
instrument would have eventually found its way into Randy's hands. Many
people don't know that Randy was also an accomplished classical
pianist. He actually preferred to write on the piano, rather than on
the guitar. Randy began taking classical guitar lessons from a woman
named Arlene Thomas. She was a guitar and vocal teacher at Musonia. We
spent considerable time with her in preparation of this book. She and
Randy formed a strong bond that would last his entire life. She was
like a big sister to him and due to their parallel teaching schedules,
they were together for long hours, many days per week, for several
years. He didn't stick with the classical lessons for long. He didn't
have the patience at that time. He wanted to learn how to play rock.
He began studying with a guy named Scott Shelly who also granted us an
interview. Scott taught Randy for about a year. Scott felt that there
was nothing more he could teach Randy. Soon thereafter, Randy began
teaching at Musonia. As Quiet Riot's popularity grew, so did the number
of students that Randy had. At his peak, he had about 80 students.
Randy taught for eight hours per day, six days per week; every half hour
he was working with a different student. Randy stated in an interview
that he learned more by teaching than from anything else. Sometimes
students would ask questions that had an answer to something else Randy
was trying to figure out. Early on, his students wanted to learn other
players' licks, but Randy quickly stopped doing that for them. He felt
that teaching other players' licks encumbered their ability to find
themselves. Randy didn't grow up with a stereo in his house. He
credited this to finding his own voice.
Share the back
story behind the creation of "Crazy Train."
"Crazy Train" is a
timeless song that will never leave the public consciousness. It seems
to still grow in popularity 32 years after it was recorded. Randy had a
fascination with toy, model trains. Bob Daisley has stated that he too
had a love of model trains. He and Randy used to go to toy conventions
on their days off and look at all the train sets together. When Randy
obtained his custom effects pedal board, he was testing it out before
rehearsal one day. It was really loud and made a chugging sound when
Randy wasn't playing. Bob said to Randy, "God that sounds awful. It
sounds like a train." Randy nodded in agreement and said, "I know, it’s
crazy." Bob then said, "Yeah, it sounds like a crazy train!" With
that, Bob, who was the band's only lyricist, now had a working title for
a new song. Randy already had the riff. One night at his London flat,
Randy was in his room writing new material. He developed the now-famous
riff that opens the song and proceeded to call his friend Lori Hollen,
back in Los Angeles. He said to her, "I want to play you something that
I wrote, can you please tell me if it’s any good?" He played what he
had written so far and she said to him, "Randy, I think that's the best
thing you've ever written." Today, turn on your television to any
sporting event and you will hear "Crazy Train". It has become a
national sports anthem, like what Queen's "We Will Rock You" was several
years ago. "Crazy Train" was also recently featured in a humorous
automobile television commercial, and a rendition of it was the opening
theme song to Ozzy's popular MTV reality show several years ago.
As a guitar
player, what makes Randy Rhoads special?
Randy Rhoads was a
special guitar player because he was a special human being. His
personality was extended through his playing. He could make that guitar
talk. The listener can feel what Randy was feeling. All the good that
was within him was audible through his Marshall Amplifiers. He loved
the guitar. He loved to play. He loved to teach. He loved to learn.
He loved to show others what he knew and help them become better. To
quote him, he said, "I just loved the guitar." He was someone that was
one in a million. I hate to use clichés, but with respect to Randy,
it’s true. He was very different from the average person. When he
entered a room, no one could take their eyes off of him-that charisma,
or component of his being transcended to his playing.
As a Randy Rhoads
historian, point us to several examples that best demonstrate Randy's
what I know now, I believe that he didn't get to record his best work.
Ozzy used to say that all the time, and I never knew what he meant. Now
that I have developed close and personal friendships with Randy's
friends, students, and band mates, I have had the opportunity to hear
things that have never been released. As good as Randy was on the
records, he was much better than he demonstrated or that people
realize. He didn't hold back on the records at all. Randy always
strove to do what was best for the song. He definitely had moments
where he ripped and played his best. But I'm not certain he was
entirely comfortable in the studio. He placed an enormous amount of
pressure on himself. He was never satisfied. When the Blizzard of Ozz
was at Ridge Farm recording in Surrey, England, Randy would ask the
producer, Max Norman, to make a 15-minute loop of the solo section.
Randy would then send everyone out of the studio so that he could be
alone. Randy would sit behind the board with his guitar and work on his
solo. They would all poke their heads in to check on him, and he'd send
them away again, sometimes for hours. Then, when he finally laid down a
solo he could live with, he'd double track it, and then triple track
it. Once he knew what he wanted, he could easily replicate it. Randy
had perfect pitch and he could play anything he heard, even with one
listen. When listening to writing sessions, guitar lessons, or
rehearsals, I could hear that he was much more comfortable in those
environments. He was laid back and could be himself. That's when he
was at his best. Even now, when I listen to bootlegs of some Ozzy
concerts, I could hear that box Randy was stuck in. He was extremely
limited in what he could add to those songs night after night. That is
why he never played a song the same twice. He was always striving to be
better and he loved trying new things. As for the two albums he
recorded with Ozzy (Blizzard Of Ozz and Diary Of A Madman),
there are definitely some stand-out tracks that Randy was most proud
of. He took great pride in his work on "Revelation Mother Earth," which
was his favorite, and he was pleased with his solo on "Mr. Crowley".
Regarding the second record, he was pleased with "Flyin' High Again" and
the title track. I have listened to many hours of recordings made by
Randy's guitar students. Randy was playing many of those licks long
before he met Ozzy. If you listen to the two Quiet Riot albums, you can
hear a lot of the stuff that ultimately ended up on the Ozzy records.
The main riff in "Steal Away the Night" was something Randy made all
his students play as a warm-up exercise.
Had Randy not been
tragically killed in an airplane crash, from your research, can you lend
perspective as to how his musical career would have progressed?
The fans think
Randy was going to record classical music. Kevin DuBrow believed that
Randy would have rejoined Quiet Riot. Ozzy believes Randy would have
changed his mind and stayed in the band. Jodi thinks Randy wanted to
give it all up, get married, and buy a house on the beach in Malibu,
because he hated the rock star life. The truth is I don't think Randy
knew what he wanted to do. He was open to everything. He wanted to do
everything that he wasn't doing. He spoke with a local singer in LA
just before he died, about doing a blues record together. He wanted to
make guest appearances on other people's records. He loved Earl Klugh.
Randy wanted to record music along those lines as well. The only thing
he knew for sure was that he desperately wanted to leave Ozzy's band.
When they first formed the group, it was a democracy. A year later,
Sharon entered the picture. Suddenly, Bob and Lee were thrown out, and
the name of the band was changed from the Blizzard of Ozz to Ozzy
Osbourne. Randy joined a band thinking he would have equality. When it
became the Ozzy and Sharon show, Randy wanted
out. There was no changing his mind. He was miserable at the end of
How do you
characterize Randy's lasting legacy today?
Randy Rhoads was
sent here to inspire millions of people, and after he did, he left us.
He only recorded 19 songs with Ozzy and they were recorded over a 9
month period. That's it. He was able to change the guitar forever by
doing so little. It’s unimaginable to me to think what he could have
done if he had more time. Like James Dean and others who were brilliant
and left us with a small body of work, Randy will always be remembered
that way. He left all of us wanting more.