Thirty years after taking the guitar world by storm on Ozzy Osbourne's Blizzard of Ozz album, Randy Rhoads will be remembered in a number of ways, including via a museum located near his gravesite in Corona, California.
For those unfamiliar with the amazing life and tragic death of Rhoads, he was the former Quiet Riot guitarist who Osbourne chose for his new band after Ozzy got the boot from Black Sabbath in 1979. Rhoads only played on two of Ozzy's solo albums—1980's Blizzard of Ozz and 1981's Diary of a Madman—before he died in a fiery plane crash in Florida on March 19, 1982. He was a passenger in a small plane piloted by Osbourne's cocaine-addled tour-bus driver, who got the bright idea to buzz the bus that Ozzy was sleeping on. On the fourth attempt the plane clipped the bus, went crashing into a nearby mansion, and Rhoads was dead at the age of 25.
I interviewed Ozzy for a Straight cover story a few months after the crash and the singer was clearly still grieving; from all accounts Rhoads was a sweetheart of a guy, a sensitive soul with a great outlook on life. Of course, most people only knew him for his astounding talents on guitar, the way he'd combine classical artistry with his own burgeoning metal instincts and technical virtuosity. There's no doubt that without Rhoads on board Osbourne's solo career would not have taken off the way it did. His wickedly intense playing on "Crazy Train" alone was enough to immortalize Ozzy as the world's reigning heavy-metal madman.
Three decades after Rhoads first made his mark worldwide his brother Kelle and former Quiet Riot bassist Kelly Garni have announced a museum in his honour, which will open later this year (for details see their YouTube video). Garni, Rhoads's lifelong friend, will also pen a book about his life titled You Can't Kill Rock & Roll, which will feature previously unpublished photos, drawings, and letters. And Rhoads's sister, winery owner Kathryn Rhoads D'Argenzio, is planning on releasing limited-edition bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon in homage to her brother.
As for the Ozzman himself, he and manager-wife Sharon are working on two Rhoads-era live films that will incorporate unreleased and rare concert footage. And according to the little promotional insert found in Osbourne's new album, Scream, 30th anniversary re-releases of Blizzard and Diary are "coming soon", and will include unheard studio and live songs, demos, and a new documentary with the Osbournes, Steve Vai, Rob Halford, and Lemmy.
The insert also encourages fans to sign up at Ozzy.com and send in their best memories from the Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman tours. Mine involves seeing Rhoads onstage in Vancouver in '81, I believe it was, ripping it up with that cream-coloured Les Paul. Although the sound was atrocious—it was the Kerrisdale Arena, after all—I'm forever grateful that I got to bask in his one-of-a-kind talent. If there's a rock 'n' roll heaven, I imagine Rhoads is showing the recently arrived Ronnie James Dio a riff or two right now. Don't ask me how things will pan out if Beverly Hills' Prince of Darkness ever shows up.