In 1979, ex-Black Sabbath vocalist Ozzy Osbourne was in Los Angeles, attempting to form a new band. An acquaintance of Osbourne’s, future Slaughter bassist Dana Strum, contacted Rhoads to see if he was interested. Rhoads, disillusioned with Quiet Riot’s inability to land an American recording deal, discussed the possibility of joining an already established band with his mother Delores. When she asked him if he would accept “an offer like this one”, the guitarist replied “Of course!” Rhoads got the call for the audition just before his final show with Quiet Riot in September 1979. The day before Osbourne was scheduled to return to England, Rhoads walked into the vocalist’s Los Angeles hotel room with his Gibson Les Paul guitar and a practice amp and started warming up. Osbourne immediately gave him the job. Osbourne was very drunk, and passed out during the audition. Rhoads recalled later, “I just tuned up and did some riffs, and he said, ‘You’ve got the gig’; I had the weirdest feeling, because I thought, ‘You didn’t even hear me yet'”. Rhoads, Osbourne, Strum, and drummer Frankie Banali subsequently spent a couple of days jamming together before Osbourne returned to England.
Randy died in a plane accident while on tour with Osbourne in Florida in 1982. Rhoads played his last show on Thursday, March 18, 1982 at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum. The next day, the band was heading to a festival in Orlando, Florida. After driving much of the night, they stopped in Leesburg, Florida, to fix a malfunctioning air conditioning unit on the bus while Osbourne remained asleep. On the property there was an airstrip with small helicopters and planes. Without permission, tour bus driver and ex-commercial pilot Andrew Aycock took a small Beechcraft F35 plane registered to a Mike Partin. On the first flight, Aycock took keyboardist Don Airey and tour manager Jake Duncan. He then landed and a second flight took to the air with Rhoads and makeup artist Rachel Youngblood aboard. During the second flight, attempts were made to apparently ‘buzz’ the tour bus, where the other band members were sleeping. Aycock succeeded in making two close passes, but botched the third attempt. At approximately 10am, after being in the air for approximately 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 spiraling out of control. The initial impact with the bus caused Rhoads’ and Youngblood’s heads 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 mansion, bursting into flames. Keyboardist Don Airey was the only member of the band to witness the crash, as the rest were asleep in the bus. Rhoads was killed instantly, as were Aycock (36) and Youngblood (58). Though all were quite distraught, the remaining band and crew members were forced to remain in Leesburg for an additional two days, until preliminary investigations were completed. Rhoads’s brother-in-law flew from California to Leesburg to identify what remained of the guitarist’s body. The band was scheduled to perform at an outdoor festival called Rock Super Bowl XIV later that day in Orlando. Though the event was not canceled, promoters offered refunds to all ticket holders.
A devoted student of classical guitar, Rhoads combined his classical music influences with his own heavy metal style. Rhoads was influenced by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones as a child and would imitate their performances with his brother Kelle in the family garage. Despite his short career, Rhoads, who was a major influence on neo-classical metal, is cited as an influence by many guitarists to this day.
This gallery uses material from the Wikipedia article Randy Rhoads, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0. Featured photo PRPhotos.com