The following is an interview with Randy Rhoads co-author Steven Rosen.
What appealed to you about doing a book on Randy Rhoads?
“To be honest, I wasn’t a huge Randy fan, and I told that to Andrew when he asked me to get involved. I thought what Randy did with Quiet Riot OK. Actually, I saw him a couple of times at the Starwood, and I thought he was all right. There were certainly better guitar players, like George Lynch or Eddie Val Halen.
“Andrew’s passion drew me in. Andrew, Peter [Margolis] and I conducted interviews together and separately and it is from those interviews that we compiled the story. During this process, I went back and listened to the Ozzy records and the Quiet Riot stuff, and then it hit me how special he was. That’s what got me into the project. And then I saw how much Randy touched all of the people he played with. Everybody who knew him, from the first time he played backyard parties when he was 15 years old, had a sense that he was destined for great things.”
Was there anything that surprised you about what Randy’s friends and family had to say about him?
“I don’t know if it surprised me, but what struck me was how much everybody loved Randy as a person over and above his guitar playing. Had Randy not played guitar, they still would’ve been attracted to him. He had this charisma and charm that was undeniable. Everybody said that. It’s kind of funny, because even though people thought he was going to go on to big things, they always thought that Randy belonged to them. He was their little Burbank guy, the local kid. It’s like they didn’t want him out there in the world. Not that they sensed that something bad would happen to him, but they were just very protective of him as a person, a musician and a special friend.”
For the uninitiated, for those who might have heard about Randy but don’t know his work, what would you say he really brought to rock guitar that was unique?
“That’s a difficult one. As someone who has met and talked to hundreds of players, everyone from Jeff Beck and Eddie Van Halen and Jimmy Page, I would say that Randy was one of the few people who brought his own style of guitar playing to the masses. Two or three other really did that – I realized this once I started digging in. When I first heard Edward play, I thought, ‘This is something special. He’s going to be right up there.’ Eric Johnson is another guy like that.
“With Randy, it was his modal sense and the way he utilized classical music. He also had a brilliant command of rhythm – it’s like he bounced off the strings. Eddie had that same touch. The tone of Randy’s guitar was different. He didn’t go for an extremely overdriven sound, and even though he used a Les Paul through a Marshall on a lot of tracks, he still got a sound that was his own. The classic element loomed large in his work, but he also had a blues side. He loved Leslie West, Mick Ronson and the early Alice Cooper stuff.”