Interview: Remembering Randy Rhoads with his family.

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I recently had the honour of interviewing via phone Kelle and Kathy Rhoads regarding their late brother Randy.

A bit of background to this scenario above is that Kelle told me that his family has been taken advantage of at times over the years and their late brother’s legacy has also been misrepresented. If that wasn’t enough, in November of last year, Musonia was the site of a burglary with some of Randys’ gear and memorabilia being stolen and the music school being vandalized and damaged. It’s no wonder that the Rhoads family is very protective and careful in regards to their late brother and interview requests and things of that nature.

Now it’s time for a brief history lesson for the handful of people that don’t know about Randy and his career, and some interesting facts that I found out during my chat. The interview section will follow so hang on to your hats as this Crazy Train is going full steam ahead.

Without getting into the fine details, I will say it like this.

Randy Rhoads was a guitar prodigy that came to fame via Ozzy Osbourne and the release of albums Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman. Those albums were guitar riff-driven and his guitar solos were his signature. Songs like Crazy Train, I Don’t Know, Flying High Again, and Mr Crowley were hits worldwide. The rest of the songs on the albums are also dynamite.

Randy was born on December 6, 1956, and grew up in Burbank California and started playing guitar at the age of 7. As a teenager, he taught guitar at his mother Delores’s Musonia School of Music and played in local bands before teaming up with Kelli Garni to form Quiet Riot.

After playing with Quiet Riot for a few years and recording QR 1 and 2, Randy was called to the bar and asked to audition for Ozzy Osbourne. Randy met Ozzy at the prompting of his mother Delores who basically told him that life gives you opportunities and that he should take this one and see where it leads. After meeting Ozzy at a location in LA; after just warming up his fingers with some scales……Ozzy knew without hearing anymore that this young kid had something rare and hired him on the spot.

At this point in Ozzy’s life, he was down and out and needed this young kindle, 2 restart his fire. He had been kicked out of Black Sabbath for the 4th and last time & it is of my opinion that Randy and Ozzy needed each other. Ozzy needed help resurrecting his career and Randy needed a bigger stage for his humble personality and God-given talent.

After selling millions and millions of the Blizzard and Diary albums, Randy’s life was taken away from us at the tender age of just 25. Randy was a passenger in a twin-engine airplane on the morning of March 19, 1982, that clipped the Ozzy band’s tour bus and crashed. Reports say that the airplane made three buzzes just above the bus in a joyriding fashion probably to arouse the sleeping crew. Along with Randy, the pilot Andrew Aycock who also drove the tour bus, and the band’s seamstress and cook Rachel Youngblood also perished in the tragic accident and should be remembered as fondly by friends and family, as Randy’s family and extremely huge fan-base worldwide remember him.

Now, some interesting notes I was informed of during my lengthy conversation with K & K included some things that only the hardcore RR fans would have known. I consider myself a huge fan and he inspired me to play guitar; I play at a level Randy played when he was 6 🤣. Anyway, I found out that Randy’s favourite food was Chinese and after returning home to Burbank from being on tour with Ozzy, he would always go to The Chop Stick (no longer there) and also the  Sun Moon Garden restaurant which was a ritual according to Kelle, “he would order way too much food” (laughter).

Another interesting fact I learned was that he was not a fan of the Black Sabbath music. This was not only confirmed by the Rhoads family but is widely known…except for me…..and possibly you.

Now here is something that really blew me away; while in Quiet Riot, Randy recorded Laughing Gas and I was told that his classical guitar piece Dee was composed as a direct result of that solo. I have listened to it and can confirm the key progressions match Dee perfectly. If you are unaware, Dee was written as a tribute to his late mother Delores. It is common knowledge that the late axemaster adored his Mother and according to Kelle, “if our Mother said to Randy…. that is a beautiful black car and it was, in fact, red, Randy would say yes that it is a beautiful black car Mom.”(laughter).

Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Lost In Space were Randy’s favourite TV shows as a teenager. I am told that Randy was a huge fan of Arnold the pig. My Mother confirms she loved the show as well.

Before we whammy bar dive into the Q & A section, I have to say that Kelle advised me when we were talking about my favourite Randy guitar solos; I mentioned that the outro solo in the song Tonight is one of my all-time favourites as the master guitar player utilized amplifier feedback into a musical note while playing. If you are unaware, there are two great solos in the song and the outro solo goes for about a minute and a half while fading out……and all RR fans know, that you keep turning the volume up so you don’t miss a second or note of the solo. “Actually that solo goes way way way longer and in my opinion, they shouldn’t have cut it out,” said Kelle. Wow! I wish I could have heard the rest of it.

Now it’s time to talk with Kelle and Kathy about Randy’s love of things miniature, his shoe fetish and many other things.

All answers were in agreement with Kelle and Kathy and when I feel relevant, I will single out one of the interviewees. Enjoy !

Who was Randys’ favourite Classical composer? Did he have a favourite Canadian Band?  Who was his favourite guitar player?

We never really asked him or had a conversation about that,…. that we can remember, but he did have albums by Boscarelli the cellist… I am sure he liked Bach, and he also liked Segovia. One thing to mention is that when he would come home from a tour he would always listen to classical music, he didn’t really listen to much rock towards the end of his life. 

It is also true, that he had told Ozzy that after the tour, he wanted to take a break from touring and recording so he could go to school and get his Masters Degree in Classical music where our mother got hers. Ozzy actually said to him, are you ******** crazy, you could buy your own university. He was definitely going to take a break and get his Master Degree in Classical and my mother had already started the process for him through UCLA.

A lot of people think he always played classical music but that is not true; for instance, when he joined Ozzy, he may have enjoyed listening to classical but his desire to play and study didn’t come until later. As a matter of fact, when he was on tour, he would go through the yellow pages and look up universities and find classical guitar teachers and take lessons.

Did he have a favourite Canadian band? I am not sure if he had a favourite, but he definitely liked the Guess Who. 

He had more than one favourite guitarist……he had many, but one that stands out and someone who really liked Randy when he met him was Leslie West of Mountain. He also liked Michael Schenker (and turned me on to MS…Kelle)  and was a big fan of Mick Ronson of Bowie fame and that’s where the polka dots came from. He saw Mick Ronson with polka dot knee pads and Randy took it to another level.

What country would you say was his favourite to travel to outside of the US on an Ozzy tour and why?

England. Randy had pretty much lived at home and never really been away from our humble, kind of secluded area in Burbank.

He really liked taking photos and, specifically of the castles in England. He was really touristy. In his bedroom, he had many books on the subject and when he was in England he would buy souvenirs for us and himself like coasters & miniature castles..

Who is most responsible for Randy’s personality besides your late Mother Dee (Delores) ? 

Obviously he was influenced by my Mom; he adored her, but he was also influenced by my sister when they were really young. She was just a bit older than him, and people thought they were twins. (laughterKelle. 

How many visitors annually stop in to Musonia to pay tribute to your late Brother ? 

That’s a really tough question to ask; it’s sporadic. We may get some during a week and nothing for weeks or months and then all of a sudden get bombarded and a bunch of people come at once. Now, the time around his birthday, or the time of his passing, we tend to get more than we normally would get. People do have to call in advance and make an appointment so not to interfere with our students while we are giving lessons. Kelle 

Now to elaborate on that, my husband and I have a wine room (Dargenzio Winery) in Burbank and we have quite a few visitors and customers who are fans of Randy’s. It’s a similar situation; they gravitate to Musonia first,… but we make a Randy Rhoads wine release so we do have a lot stop by, and when we have an event like we usually do every year on his birthday, then that also draws a very huge crowd. Kathy 

Roughly, how often after all of these years since his passing, do you get requests for interviews regarding Randy? 

We do!! We’re doing one with you right now (laughter)….. but it’s not like we do ten a week, it’s also very sporadic. On another note, at the time of Randy’s passing and in the subsequent years when there was no internet we got a lot of letters. We literally have a warehouse full of letters. Our Mom read and saved every single letter from all the fans from around the world and I think Randy would be shocked to hear how revered he still is in the musical realm, how much his name comes up, and how everyone thought so much of him….he’d be shocked. 

On another note, our Mom worked and taught until she was 90 years old and was very special and dear to our hearts. I’d also like to just interject,…. the Osbournes were so gracious and loving to our late Mother. 

Do you speak regularly with any of Randy’s past band-mates or friends?

We will say this without going into detail; we stay connected of course with Ozzy, Sharon, and Don Airey, is a very close personal friend and… Rudy…. he’s just like a family member. To answer your question we do stay connected with a lot of Randy’s friends and ex-bandmates.

What was Randy’s first major purchase after getting his first big paycheque or advance?;  Did he spoil the family with his generosity? We all know that back in the day with no pirating of music that once Crazy Train etc topped the charts, the royalties came in big for the artists. 

I think it was the stereo system that he bought for himself; it was quite impressive and advanced for that time in the ’80s. Did he spoil the family with his generosity? He didn’t spoil me (laughter) Kelle

In regards to the part about the royalties in your question, it’s amazing that after all of these years we still get royalties for Crazy Train etc. The cheques are still coming in to this day. Randy was very generous though, I have a really nice set of china that he bought me that I’m looking at right now. When he was home, he would really show his giving side, whether it was buying some piece of furniture for our Mom or whatever. He used to also bring home little miniature things that could easily fit in his suitcase like ceramic tiny castles or whatever. Kathy 

In regards to Ozzy’s theatrics that delved into the dark side and occult (obviously for theatrics), how did Randy handle that realm? Did he realize it was just a business and was only concerned with playing or did he ever mention that he was uncomfortable with it? 

So, we would put it like this; we grew up in a small conservative suburb of Los Angeles, we went to a parochial school and we pretty much led a sheltered life. Our life was Musonia, school, and church where our Mom was the choir director. So since Randy still lived at home when he went to England to work with Ozzy, it was an eye-opening experience….very much a shock. Ozzy was different and it’s not that Randy disapproved of him, it was just a big culture shock ….. is the best way to describe it.  

How did Randy handle his celebrity status when it was at its peak before his untimely death? Did he get exhausted from signing autographs or doing interviews, and engaging with fans; or did he enjoy it? 

Randy was a very humble person and appreciated it when people wanted him to sign autographs. It’s very true that he actually would thank them. He was so humble and I don’t think he grasped the status he held and he did not have an ego and I don’t think he would have, no matter how big he got. He knew that he was gifted but he never never never talked about it. In fact that was something our Mom said… know, don’t toot your own horn or brag. If somebody says it to you, that’s fine….you thank them, but you don’t say that about yourself. 

Other than music; what were some other passions or interests that Randy had? ie: comic books, horror movies, skateboarding….etc 

As a family growing up, we would take a lot of train rides, even across the country, so we were infatuated with trains. So when Randy was on the road, he collected these trains that were literally the size of a walnut. The smallest gauge that they sold. He would also buy the models of the villages that went with it, and construct the villages when he was home. He really loved doing that and it kind of unplugged him from everything. My husband, actually constructed this large board at Christmas of the last year Randy was alive, and he was going to set it all up with the different villages and trains. Kathy 

In closing, I feel like it would have been easier to just upload the whole 55 minute and 59-second interview. There is so much information in there that Randy’s fans would love to hear. The problem is privacy and well… privacy.

Anyway, some things to note from my chat are that Randy and Ozzy really respected each other and I was told that Ozzy misses Randy and thinks of him on a daily basis. I also learned that Randy was humble, but he did go through a very brief stage where he had a cockiness to him, but that is normal for young adults and didn’t last long. According to Kathy and Kelle, when he returned from England he really matured into a great young man, not only personality-wise, but he really started to take his music even more serious than before. He was a perfectionist according to Kathy. I would like to thank Kelle and Kathy for their time chatting with and corresponding with me; they are both very busy and it would have been easy to say no to my request.

I would also invite you to check out the Musonia School of Music for a tour if you are in the LA area at some point. Please call in advance. In addition, please check out the Dargenzio Winery, a mere 3 miles away, as well and grab a bottle of the Randy Rhoads vino, available all year round, and say hi to Kathy. She is really engaging and as down to earth as Kelle and her late brother. Kathy would love for all of Randy’s fans to follow her on Instagram as she will almost on a daily basis reveal interesting facts about things that the curious fan would love to learn; such as where was that picture of Randy taken or the history of that piece of jewellery on his hand etc.  Please follow @dargmama     

One other thing to note; there is no Randy Rhoads Museum as I learned. They had originally planned on doing something of that nature, but the break into the Musonia scuttled that for safety and security reasons. I inquired if there was a gift shop of some sort and although there is not one, I put the seed in their heads about selling Randy Rhoads coffee mugs.

 I got a big thumbs up for my “good idea Ernest” and if you see one on your tour ; let me know, as I’ll check my mailbox for my royalty cheques!

Ernest Skinner

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