Randy Rhoads is one of the most revered guitarists of all time. Over his short life, he made such an impact on guitar playing and heavy metal that the guitar would be a very different beast from what it is today without his input. Often, some parallels are drawn between Rhoads and his contemporary Eddie Van Halen. They refined and popularised the techniques that would quickly become lauded as quintessential components of metal guitar playing.
Tapping, dive bombs and the complex use of scales were the names of the game. In many ways, Rhoads and Van Halen filled the hole left by Jimi Hendrix in terms of virtuosity.
Celebrated in life and death, Rhoads’ tragically passed away aged just 25 in an aeroplane accident in 1982, which only helped to cement his legacy. Even if you’re not a metalhead or even a fan of rock music in general, appreciating Rhoads’ skill comes easily. Technically proficient and forward-thinking, he is hailed as a hero by some of the best in the business.
Dimebag Darrell, Zakk Wylde, Mick Thomson, Mike McCready and Tom Morello are just a handful of modern guitar gods who have discussed Rhoads’ influence at different points over their careers. In fact, Tom Morello said in a 2012 tribute to Rhoads: “In a way, Randy Rhoads is the Robert Johnson of metal. It’s such a small catalogue of stuff that has been so incredibly influential.”
Although Rhoads made his name with the metal band Quiet Riot, it was on ex-Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne’s debut solo album, 1980’s Blizzard of Ozz, where he truly went stratospheric. ‘Crazy Train’ and ‘Suicide Solution’ are two of the stand out tracks, but without a doubt, the highlight of the album and his career was ‘Mr. Crowley’.
It’s a metal classic with one of the most iconic intro riffs of all time, it’s a standard of guitarists worldwide hoping to get to the intermediate level. When you mention Rhoads’ name, this is the track that instantly springs to mind aside from ‘Crazy Train’. Written by Osbourne, Rhoads and Bob Daisley, you could argue that it is Rhoads’ song.
The isolated guitar track elevates the technique of Rhoads to another level; a level thought impossible given just how revered it already is. By hearing his playing clearly, you can heed just how impressive and dextrous a player he was. The solo is genuinely mind-blowing, and the raw power of his licks is unmatched.
In the full studio version, his playing is brilliant, but when you strip that away and listen to Rhoads on his own, it’s magic. Tonally, technically, entirely — everything is just perfect. Covering every inch of the neck, he shows us how to do it properly.
Listen to Rhoads’ isolated guitar track for Ozzy Osbourne song ‘Mr. Crowley’ below.