|Article - Randy Rhoads - A Tribute (PART TWO)
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|Author:||Randy Perry [ Sun Dec 23, 2007 8:05 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Article - Randy Rhoads - A Tribute (PART TWO)|
The first half to this article is on the second page.
From Obscurity to Eternity
Rudy Sarzo played bass in both the pre- and post-Randy Rhoads-era Quiet Riot, in addition to having toured with Randy in Ozzy Osbourne's band, making him the only musician to have worked with Randy during both his formative years and at the peak of his playing. Although Rudy was with Randy at the time of his death, he was hesitant to reflect upon that tragic day for this special tribute. Like many people, he is still touched by it deeply. Rudy's bass playing can be beard on the new Ozzy Osbourne - Randy Rhoads live album Tribute.
"I replaced Quiet Riot's original Kelly Garni, in 1978. That was when I first met Randy. Since we were searching for an American record deal at the time, everyone in the band was very business oriented. When ever record-industry people would come to our showcases, they would always tell us the type of music they were interested in. As a result, the band's songwriting and direction became aimed towards pleasing the industry.
It wasn't until I started playing with Randy in Ozzy's band that he really came into his own as a great guitar player. I remember Ozzy once said to him, 'Just be the best Randy Rhoads that you can be. It will open up a world of possibilities for you. And it did. Randy finally had the freedom to do exactly what he wanted, instead of being in a band where he could only go so far. Ozzy gave him no boundaries.
Randy was more than just a great guitar player. He was a great composer, a great performer and, as a person, I've never met someone so level-headed. What usually happens after rock musicians become successful is they lose the desire to become more musical. After they make it, all they want to do is party. I've met lots of successful musicians, and that's what I've noticed. Randy wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like that at all.
There was a time in his career when he wanted to put aside touring and go back to school for his Masters degree in music, which is something that most successful musicians would never do. He was in total control of his life and knew exactly what he wanted from his music.
Whenever Randy would compose a guitar solo, he would first write the back ground music in such a way that it would weave within the song. He wouldn't just riff over the verse or the chorus during the solo, like many guitarists do. Since his writing structure was very orchestrated, Randy was perfect for a band with a three-piece format. He was able to fill the holes without relying on another guitarist or a keyboardist to do it.
Randy is the only guitarist I've worked with who could play a totally incredible solo and then double it note-for-note. He would double wah-wah inflections, everything. And even when he used a small Fender Champ amp, like he used in Quiet Riot, he still managed to get the most incredible sound in the studio. When I was listening to a tape of the new Ozzy live album, it brought back a lot of wonderful memories of Randy. The album was recorded about three weeks after we started touring, so it was only the starting point of his career. Although his playing on it still sounds great, Randy improved so much since that album was recorded.
His playing may not sound as ground-breaking today, but Randy started a new breed of playing. Many people compared him to Eddie Van Halen, but to me their styles are totally different: Eddie's more bluesy and American-sounding, whereas Randy's more classically-structured. In fact, the tonality of some of the stuff that Yngwie does isn't much different from what Randy was doing back in 1981. Unfortunately, it's mostly in the memory of the people who have seen him play and those who were fortunate enough to have worked with him."
The mouth sheds a tear
Kevin DuBrow was the vocalist in Quiet Riot with both Randy Rhoads and (later) Carlos Cavazo in the guitar slot. As soon as be got word that this magazine was doing a special tribute on the late, great guitar hero, DuBrow immediately contacted us and did what be does best-talk, talk and talk. Fortunately, a tape recorder got it all down. Here, then, is Randy's co-writer and vocalist being most vocal.
"The first time I met Randy was on the phone. I had just come back from a Rod Stewart concert, and Randy had called and said that he was looking for a singer. The first thing we talked about was the type of music we liked. We were both really crazy about the first Montrose album, so we talked about forming a band with that type of sound. When we met in person, I was amazed by how long his hair was. He looked so effeminate, but his voice was so low. We got along really well from the get-go and started playing together soon after we had met. "Randy was definitely the high point of Quiet Riot, there's no doubt about that. He was light-years ahead of the rest of us. Although we were just playing clubs, Randy would always make our shows into an event. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d run around the stage with his polk-a-dot outfits. No matter how much he'd run around, it would never interfere with his playing. He was so good that people would always tell him to dump the rest of the band. Randy was the type of guitar player that all the girls wanted to see and all the guys wanted to be like.
Randy wrote the songs and I wrote the lyrics. He taught me how to write words to music. Randy was so easy to work with; he didn't have an ego problem like many musicians have. Although the original Quiet Riot had a very commercial sound, Randy managed to throw in every guitar part and technique that he could. He cut loose more live than in the studio, and he played everything very articulately. Randy didn't rely strictly on the left hand to just slide up and down the neck while the right hand stayed in one place. He picked every note individually, whereas a lot of guitarists will slur everything they play. I have about six hours worth of live shows on video tape, and it's amazing to watch the way he plays.
In the studio, he was just as amazing. He would be able to play something real fast, with all this incredible vibrato in his is left hand, and then double it and sometimes even triple it! I could never figure out how he was able to do it. After he did it, everyone in the studio would stand up and start clapping. Randy was embarrassed by all the attention. Everyone knew how great he was; it was just a matter of time before he would make it.
Randy was more influenced by himself than anybody else. Although he listened to other guitarists, he listened mainly for enjoyment. His early influences were guys like Johnny Winter, Leslie West and the guitarists in Alice Cooper's band. Then he started to listen to Bill Nelson's stuff with Be Bop Deluxe and he also liked Jeff Beck. And then, as he got more into guitar, he got heavily into classical music. Randy was definitely a world-class player.
As a guitarist, Randy was a lot different than Carlos Cavazo. When we got Carlos in the band, we weren't looking for another Randy Rhoads, because no one else is like him. Randy was more of a super-hot player, whereas Carlos is a good guitarist who knows how to play his parts within the context of a band. The world needs both types of players.
To get a lick in with Randy in the band was really tough for me, so I'd just lay back and listen to him wail. Sometimes he'd play these amazing licks and I'd go, 'Whoa! What the heck was that?' And he'd say, laughing, 'It's that lick you liked at rehearsal.' The original Quiet Riot was based around Randy, whereas the second Quiet Riot was based around myself.
During a break from Randy's tour with Ozzy Osbourne, Randy and I got to play together at the Starwood. I remember saying to him that night, 'I never took you for granted, Randy, but one thing I did take for granted was how much of a great human being you are. Some of the musicians I've had to deal with are jerks.' He thought that was hilarious.
I was at my apartment in L.A. when I found out about Randy's death. Somebody called me from Florida and told me what happened. I didn't believe it at first, so I went back to sleep. But about three minutes later, I got up. I put on the radio and 'Crazy Train' was on. Then I turned to another station and 'Slick Black CadillacÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ was on. So I said, 'Oh no, it probably did happen,' because whenever somebody dies they play their music on the radio. Randy was my best friend and the greatest guitar player I've ever heard. Whenever I think of him, those are the first things that pop into my mind."
Good night, Sweet Prince
Magazine issues usually run early, so when the May, 1982 issue of Guitar World hit the stands during the first few weeks of March of that year, it wasn't thought to be anything more than Standard Operating Procedure. It certainly wasn't in anybody's minds that the issue would turn into a collector's item - the first sold-out GW issue, and the rarest single copy. That it did, for the very reason of the article you're about to read. Conducted by John Stix (when the author was a freelancer writing regularly for this magazine), this is the last known interview with Randy Rhoads that was on the news stands during his lifetime. The portrait sitting that John Livzey conducted of Randy for this interview was, in fact the last one that the young guitarist ever did.
It's impossible to predict what the spotlight will do to a person once he sees it coming his way. In the early seventies, Roy Buchanan went from being a revered bar band player to "the finest unknown guitarist in the world." Under the spot light, his star refused to shine. The hype had been ours, the media's - not his. America's back porch proved to be too big for this easy going blues picker. It's too early to tell how guitarist Randy Rhoads will fare, but so far his reaction to center-stage is quite relaxed. The hype is mine, not his, but still it's a far cry from giving guitar lessons at eight dollars a half-hour, which is what Rhoads was doing before ex-Sabbath vocalist Ozzy Osbourne tapped him to join the Blizzard Of Ozz.
A sincere and altogether amiable person off-stage, Randy's head is still swimming about what people are saying about his stage performance. Debuting in huge arenas hasn't boosted his ego so much as made him "frightened and humble". It's totally strange," says this 24-year-old native of Burbank, California, who has been practically adopted by the British music press. "I've still got my past in me. I'm trying to mature into all this, but I don't have my feet on the ground at all." Randy's reaction to all this hoopla seems strange until you realize he fell into it by accident. And in true People magazine style, he says he owes it all to his mother, "She was the one who pushed me all the time," he says with affection. "She even helped me with my equipment." Like Eddie Van Halen, Randy is fueled by his love for the instrument more than any great desire to be a rock star. In fact, Randy admits to not having rock 'n' roll dreams as a youngster. "I loved the guitar right from the beginning," he says with a gleam in his eyes. "But when I started liking rock, Elvis Presley was my only idol. I was seven and too young to know anything about lead guitar. To this day, I still don't have a guitar idol!"
It might have been different if he had a record player at his disposal, but he didn't. The absence of any sustained contact with the gift licks of John Mayall and Yardbirds alumni make Randy a rare bird in the hard-rock jungle. "That must be a frustrating way to learn," he says in retrospect. "What are you gonna do if you learn a lick. How are you gonna use it in your own songs?" Randy Rhoads didn't drop by from another planet. The blues jams so common to all of us are also part of his history. The difference is, he didn't use Clapton and family as a reference. Instead, he says, "As a teenager I went back to taking guitar lessons and studied classical guitar."
As his playing progressed, Randy's Les Paul could be heard teaching in his mom's music store in Burbank, and on the local stages with his group, Quiet Riot. Randy's style emerged by combining these two parallel paths. As best evidenced by "Mr. Crowley" from the Blizzard Of Ozz collection. Randy's gifts include an awesome technique coupled with a composer's disciplined approach to soloing. He just may be the Allan Holdsworth of hard rock. Hammered notes pour from Randy's instrument, as he abandons the barrage of spitfire riffs embraced by most hard rockers. "Crowley" also displays his ability to construct a classically - influenced solo from long lines while maintaining a lava-like heat.
Incongruous as it may sound to fans of Beethoven and Brahms, the classical approach is a heavy metal tradition. From their earliest recordings jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Leslie West and Ritchie Blackmore have all given more than a casual tip of the hat to western classical music. (Remember "Beck's Bolero"?) "There's an answer to that," explains Rhoads. "Most heavy metal is not very melodic in nature. It's often minor in tone so you can use a lot of minor thirds in your lead breaks. That automatically sounds classical. Leslie West was one of my favorites because he used classical ideas with feeling. He was melodic but mean. My solos are more like rolling scales than the call-and-response of blues riffs. Quiet Riot played songs with a lot of changes. I used to analyze the progression and look over my possibilities. If I didn't like what was available, I'd play as weird as possible."
His ability to focus, dissect and share information made Randy a popular and busy teacher. Through his students he was finally exposed to the classic electric guitarists of the sixties and seventies. "I learned more by teaching the guitar than by doing anything else. Students would come up with chord progressions and ask what kind of lead they could play over them. More often they wanted to learn note-for-note solos from their favorite players. That's when I started to learn other people's licks."
On the technical side Randy had his students practice hammering up and down the neck, going through all the frets with four fingers, by hitting each string once. For the right hand he advised a lot of double-picking. "The main thing, though, myself is to take it as it comes. Don't try to do too much too soon. You've got to get to know your own style."
Randy feels uncomfortable with all the praise that's been coming his way. including my own. After sharing my astonishment that he didn't go through the imitation/innovation stage common to most players, he responds unpretentiously. "I wish I could agree with you," he says. "Everything happens so fast that I haven't had enough time to think about what I want to do. I have my own personality on guitar but as of yet I don't think I have my own style. For instance, I do a solo guitar thing in concert, and I do a lot of the same licks as Eddie Van Halen. Eddie is a great player, but it kills me that I do that. For me it's just flash that impresses the kids. I'm trying to make a name for myself as fast as I can. I wish I could take time and come up with something that nobody else has done. But that's gonna take a few years yet."
The release of Ozzy Osbourne's Diary of A Madman is something of an enigma for Randy. Coming out at the end of '81, Diary was already in the can before their first American tour to support Blizzard. So Randy's newest recording is really old, and from his standpoint, not the best he has to offer. He explains: "On the first album none of us had played together, so it the was everything at once. We were putting the bond together, writing the songs and being in the studio all at the same time. There was an exciting energy on Blizzard Of Ozz. We turned everything up to 10 and if it felt good we'd play it. Directly after making Blizzard, we did a European tour, came back and did Diary. There was no break. I didn't have time to sit back and think about 'What do I want to do? What do I want to accomplish?'
On Diary we put a lot more energy into the songwriting. So the songs are happening but my guitar playing isn't. We were in a hurry to get over to the States and tour behind Blizzard, so Diary was rushed. We only had time to get a song's basic form before we had to record it. Some parts of this record make me cringe from a guitar standpoint. In fact, on "Little Dolls" I never got to take a real solo. What you hear on there is actually the guitar track. It's a dummy solo I laid down where I was later supposed to put a real one. But I never got time to do it. A lot of my things on Diary lack feeling. It sounds a bit ordinary to me, like just sort of play anything you can think of." Not without some bright moments, Randy points with pride to his work on "Over The Mountain," "You Can't Kill Rock And Roll" and the title track.
His current concern, however, is learning how to grow under the spotlight. He's suddenly found himself at or near the top of popularity polls. When he looks over his shoulder to see who's watching, he's aware that it's getting damned crowded. Randy is genuinely surprised. "I'm totally shocked that it happened. It changes the whole thing. Now I've got to get it together. It's a pressure where you've always got to be better than yourself, which is a difficult thing to be. The main thing I'm going through right now is figuring out how to get back to being a musician, more than being in a popular band."
An incessant learner, Randy is devising a way to do just that. To help him formulate new source material, he is thinking of bringing a classical guitar tutor on the road. "I feel that a lot of my style is leaning toward more melodic playing. When I was taking classical lessons it gave me a lot of ideas to turn into leads. Everything is totally different for me now. I was used to taking lessons and teaching all day long. I had constant musical input."
Session and guest recording is another avenue that Randy would like to explore. "I was thinking that one of the great things for me would be to play on other peoples' records. It would be nice to be known for playing in different areas. Ozzy Osbourne is about as heavy metal as you can get, and a lot of people don't know me for that reason. But I would like to play some light jazz things. I was never into heavy fusion music, I'm thinking more on the acoustic melodic side. At this point my weakness is my sound. I rely on it one hundred percent. I don't go on stage with a lot of confidence. If the sound isn't right I'll get paranoid. I'm still learning what to feel on stage. It's totally different than playing in a club. If my sound isn't right it would totally blow me away."
Randy's stage sound is shaped by three Marshall 100-watt heads powering six 4 x 12 cabinets with Altec high-powered speakers. Starting with the clean sound of the Altecs, Randy's thick tone is produced by adding heavy mid-range e.q. and an MXR Distortion Plus. Other outboard devices include the MXR Equalizer, Chorus and Flanger, a Cry Baby wah-wah and Korg Echo Unit.
One person he blew away in the positive sense was Ozzy Osbourne. Randy's is a Cinderella story. It seems that about two and a half years ago Ozzy Osbourne was auditioning guitar players in the L.A. area, looking for a centerpiece for his new band. Alerted to the situation by a bass player who had already made the rounds, local guitar teacher Randy Rhoads balked at the idea. "I had never looked for auditions or gigs outside of what I was doing," he recalls. Besides, I thought I would hurt my band. When I did go down, there were all these guys with Marshall stacks. I brought along a tiny practice amp. I started tuning up and Ozzy said, 'You've got the gig,' I didn't even get to play! I had the weirdest feeling because I thought, 'He didn't even hear me yet."'
With the success of Blizzard and Diary, hearing Randy Rhoads should no longer be a problem for anyone.
RandyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s last photo shoot
When New York called and told me they wanted to set up a cover shoot with a rocker by the name of Randy Rhoads, I was naturally excited at the prospect. Rock stars usually arrive at my place with a variety of ego and flamboyance, so I'm usually prepared for just about anything. Randy, though, was immediately warm and gracious, and apparently without any star trappings. In short, a nice guy.
The first shot was, of course, with a cover in mind, so I chose a red back ground to complement his blond hair and black stage outfit - and besides, red is a passionate color. He was delighted at the polaroids I shot first (he took at least one with him after the session) and was enthusiastic from that point forward.
The second shot was a bit crazier, with colored gels on both sides and a mustard-colored background. This is the shot that ran in the magazine the very month he died. Much to the consternation of the publicist, Randy and I agreed to do yet one more set-up, this one a bit softer. We joked about the young girls loving this one, because Randy definitely had a "Cute" side to him, the heavy metal scene notwithstanding. So we chose blue background for this one. He wore just a plain white shirt. At this point, Randy remarked that my studio was quite familiar to him, that maybe he had been there before. But a few minutes later, when I got out my guitar, a Garcia acoustic, he said, "I've definitely been here; I recognize this guitar," Then we put it all together. My friend, photographer Dan Raabe, had photographed Randy with Quiet Riot in my studio a few years before. He had played my guitar then when wandering around my living area during a break.
One Saturday morning in March, I was picking up on newspapers that I had from a few days earlier when I chanced upon a small piece about a Florida plane accident, When I read his full name Randall Rhoads in the paper, at first it didn't sink in. Then I must have read it at least 10 more times, hoping the letters would somehow change, or maybe I was somehow misreading it. But no, it had to be Randy because of the later reference to the Ozzy Osbourne band. Ironically, the Guitar World issue with
Randy's story had only arrived one or two days earlier at my studio. Not only had the music world lost a brilliant guitarist, it had also lost a very nice person.
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