Gary James' Interview With The Author Of
Crazy Train: The High Life
And Tragic Death Of Randy Rhoads
He was like a meteor that burned brightly across the sky and then was no more. Randy Rhoads was Ozzy Osbourne's guitarist. He was nothing short of incredible. This guy could really play. He died in a plane accident.
Joel McIver has written a detailed account of Randy Rhoads life titled Crazy Train: The High Life And Tragic Death Of Randy Rhoads.
Q - Joel, I've been waiting a long time for a book like this to be written. Is this in fact the first book to be written on Randy Rhoads?
A - Yes. Some years before my book came out, Rudy Sarzo (Ozzy's bassist) wrote an excellent memoir of his time with Ozzy, which obviously included plenty of memories of Randy, but it wasn't dedicated solely to him. I wanted to be the first person to really dig deep into Randy's life and work and according to the feedback I've received, I pulled it off, although there are always improvments that could have been made to my book.
Q - Did you ever see Randy in concert with Ozzy?
A - Sadly, I was only 11 years old when Randy died, so I missed out there.
Q - Well, I did. I saw him in I believe April, 1981 at the Landmark Theatre in Syracuse, New York. The Cortland, N.Y. group The Rods opened the show. After their set, The Rods came out into the audience and watched Ozzy. All eyes, even their's, were on Randy. At the time, I thought "Hey! This guy does a pretty good imitation of Eddie Van Halen." I realize now, that wasn't quite true. He really did have his own style of playing.
A - I know what you mean. He even compared his own playing to Eddie's, saying that when he wasn't feeling inspired he would sometimes find himself playing that way. But he had his own style for sure.
Q - Here's a guy who really didn't want to audition for Ozzy. He didn't think he was good enough. But towards the end of his life, he wanted to get off the road?
A - Correct on all counts. He had to be persuaded to go down and audition. Obviously he gave 100% commitment to the band while he was a member, but towards the end he had become fed up with the partying and wanted to return to Burbank to settle down with his girlfriend, Jodi.
Q - For years we've all heard about the pilot of the plane trying to buzz the tour bus that Ozzy was sleeping in. But you write that the pilot was not trying to buzz the bus, he just lost control of the plane. There was no fooling around.
A - That's what Sarzo wrote. From my book: "After the plane returned safely to the ground, Randy and Rachel Youngblood agreed to go along if the pilot agreed not to attempt any aerobatics." She thought it would be a special occasion for her to go up on a small plane. So, she got all dressed up and everything, said Sarzo. The pilot knew that Rachel had a heart condition, (so he) told Jake Duncan that it would be just going up and down. Nothing fancy. Nothing crazy, right? And that's why Randy said, "Well, in that case, I'll join you guys. I want to take some photos."
Q - Now that the Hard Rock explosion of the 1980s has passed, you don't really hear many people talk about Randy Rhoads anymore, at least I don't.
A - I do. Ask any of today's guitarists about their influences; Phil Demmel of Machine Head and Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine are huge fans, for example. Also, if anything technical, Metal and Hard Rock is as big or bigger now than it was back then.
Q - So, what is Randy Rhoads' legacy?
A - The Quiet Riot and Ozzy albums plus the sharkfin guitar shape and an extra boost for the L.A. shredder movement, which he, Eddie Van Halen and George Lynch pioneered.