August 1, 2017– Goldy McJohn (Steppenwolf) was born John Raymond Goadsby in Toronto, Canada on May 2, 1945. He was raised by middle class parents in Toronto, Canada. They put him into piano lessons at a young age and with this foundation he became a pioneer in the use of the electronic organ in rock and roll. “I was classically trained,” said Goldy. He also stated that no one else in rock and roll was doing was he was at the time. “I played on a Lowrey,” he said. And this is part of what he said gave songs such as “Born to be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride” their unique sound. “I was up at 4 a.m. daily to practice from the age of seven until…I got stupid,” Goldy said. While school in general was not his thing, (he was suspended from high school for three months,) he always did exceptionally well in music. “I got 100 in music, which brought my average up to maybe 14,” Goldy said. His parents could not afford private school that could have catered more to the needs of a student like him.Continue reading Goldy McJohn 8/2017
March 12, 2017 – Joey Alves (Y&T guitarist) was born Joseph Lenny Alves on August 3, 1953 in Oakland California. He grew up just south of Oakland in the small town of San Lorenzo. He was a 1971 graduate of Arroyo High School, after which time he learned to play guitar and played in just one local band before joining up with Yesterday & Today in 1974.
The Oakland area band Y&T (abbreviation for the Beatles album Yesterday and Today, found its roots in a unnamed cover band that started out in 1972. After a couple of rhythm and bass changes in the early years, the band found footing after Joey Alves joined and the band began to write their own songs. The initial powerhouse quartet—featuring Dave Meniketti (lead guitar/lead vocals), Phil Kennemore (bass), Leonard Haze (drums), and Joey Alves (rhythm guitar)—tore through the ’70s and ’80s with their own brand of hard rock. After two ’70s albums on London Records, they shortened their name to Y&T and released eight albums on A&M in the ’80s. Continue reading Joey Alves 3/2017
May 21, 2016 – Nicholas “Nick” Menza was born on July 23, 1964 in Münich, Germany. As the son of jazz musician Don Menza, Nick began playing drums at the age of two, at which age he performed at his first public concert when during the intermission someone sat him down on Jack DeJohnette’s drums and he proceeded to play. His influences stem from being nurtured around the tutelage of such notables as Buddy Rich, Steve Gadd, Nick Ceroli, Jeff Porcaro and Louie Bellson.
Beginning his professional musical career at the age of 18 drumming in the band Rhoads featuring singer Kelle Rhoads, brother of the late Randy Rhoads, Nick released his first record with Rhoads called Into the Future in Europe.
April 15, 2014 – Shane Paul Gibson was born February 21, 1979 in Houma, Louisiana. He graduated in 2002 from the Berklee College of Music, moving then to Los Angeles, where he first worked as a roadie for Kiss and later on TV spots and music for movies, before becoming the touring lead guitarist for the rock band Korn, after the departure of Brian “Head” Welch in February 2005. He also played the lead guitar for the solo tour of Jonathan Davis from Korn.
He was than hired on and joined forces in a project group called, Mr Creepy. The band was formed by Arthur Gonzales who also brought in (studio musicain) Michael G Clark, award winning bassist/vocalist, Jasmine Cain, and ex-Black Label Society drummer, Mike Froedge. Continue reading Shane Gibson 4/2014
January 25, 2012 – Mark Reale, heavy metal guitarist best known for being the only constant original member in the band Riot, was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1955. He grew up listening to The Beatles, Eric Clapton, Gary Moore, Ritchie Blackmore and lists George Harrison as one of his greatest influences. After attending concerts by Ronnie Montrose, Rick Derringer and Edgar Winter he decided to become a rock guitarist, forming the band Riot in 1975 who are still active today.
Mark Reale was the principal songwriter and main creative force behind Riot starting with the band’s 1977 debut album Rock City. The group’s most acclaimed album was 1981’s seminal Fire Down Under, the last of three studio albums to feature original vocalist Guy Speranza. Other notable records include Restless Breed (1982), the band’s comeback album, Thundersteel (1988), and its follow-up, The Privilege of Power (1990). Riot’s most recent album was Immortal Soul in 2011. Riot has toured all around the world and been a support act for major acts such as Kiss, AC/DC, Sammy Hagar, Molly Hatchet, and Rush while maintaining a particularly strong fanbase in Japan and Continental Europe.
In the early to mid 70’s his influences included the likes of Edgar Winter, Ronnie Montrose and Rick Derringer. He also loved a range of bands and artists from Al Di Meola to Deep Purple. In 1975 Mark formed his band RIOT, then at a block party Mark’s father found vocalist Guy Speranza. Mark’s guitar style and his passion for writing songs that told stories that were so deep and moving had made a real connection with those who would become lifelong fans. The fans felt so connected to Mark because the lyrics in RIOT’s songs were extremely close to the stories of their own lives. His song writing style could weave tales of anything from old lore to battle fields and warriors, personal loss and triumph. And heavy metal anthems that will be with us for decades to come.
After Riot’s temporary breakup following the Born In America (1983) release, Reale formed a short-lived outfit named Narita with former members of S.A. Slayer, including future Riot bassist Don Van Stavern. The band recorded a sole demo in 1984 before calling it quits. Reale decided to re-activate Riot which led to a new record deal with CBS Records and the Thundersteel album in 1988. In 1998, Reale co-founded the group Westworld with vocalist Tony Harnell of TNT fame. Westworld released three studio albums and one live disc between 1999 and 2002.
The brethren of brothers that Mark spent his life long career in music with and whom he leaves behind or joins in heaven are, Guy Speranza, L.A Kouvaris, Kip Leming, Peter Bitelli, Rhett Forrester, Rick Ventura, Jimmy Iommi, Sandy Slavin, Tony Moore, Don Van Stavern, Mike Flyntz, Pete Perez, Bobby Jarzombek, Mike Dimeo, John Macaluso, Bobby Rondinelli, Mike Tirelli, Frank Gilchriest and Damon Di Bari who was always like the “6th” member of the band being Riot’s lighting director / production manager / tour manager and Mark’s personal assistant from 1988 through 2008. Mark’s final days were spent with Damon at his hospital bedside, sharing the fans’ thoughts, well wishes and prayers. Even though Mark began his career in New York, San Antonio was a special place he loved and not only lived here for a while but had planned on moving back here to make San Antonio his permanent home.
On January 25, 2012, Reale died of complications related to Crohn’s disease. Reale, who had Crohn’s disease most of his life, had been in a coma since January 11 due to a subarachnoid hemorrhage.
August 25, 2011 – Laurie McAllister was born Laurie Hoyt on June 26, 1957 in Eugene Oregon.
Laurie McAllistar was a bassist who is perhaps best remembered for being the last one to play in the influential 1970s all-girl rock band, the Runaways. McAllister landed in Hollywood in her early twenties where she played in such local punk outfits as the Rave Ons and Baby Roulette. In November 1978, McAllister was asked to join the Runaways (replacing Vickie Blue for health reasons as it was reported), whose line-up at the time was Joan Jett, Cherie Curie, and Sandy West. Laurie was referred to the band by her neighbor, Duane Hitchings, who played keyboards on And Now… The Runaways. Continue reading Laurie McAllister 8/2011
July 9, 2011 – Michael “Würzel” Burston was born on 23 October 1949 in Cheltenham, England.
Before joining Motörhead in 1984, Burston had been a corporal in the Army, serving in Germany and Northern Ireland with the 1st Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment, and had played in the bands Bastard and Warfare. Joining another relatively unknown guitarist, Phil Campbell at a Motörhead audition, both were hired. The new four-piece line-up made its debut recording a backing track for The Young Ones on 14 February 1984.
Burston acquired the nickname Würzel whilst in the Army, being compared to the character Worzel Gummidge due to his scarecrow-style hair and bumpkin-like manner. Motörhead singer Lemmy encouraged Würzel to add an umlaut to the ‘U’ in his name, for heavy metal effect.
Würzel saw a number of changes to the line-up in the band, each involving the drummer, until he left in 1995. Although he played on Sacrifice, he left the band before the tour. He was not replaced and Motörhead reverted to a three-piece. He had made a few guest appearances with the band: at the 2008 Download Festival and at the 2009 Guilfest, as well as a few other appearances on the band’s 2008 UK tour. He played on six studio albums, and one live album.
Few fans of the English heavy metal band Motörhead would recognise the name Michael Burston, but if presented with his stage name, Würzel, the majority would respond with unequivocal enthusiasm. The guitarist came closer than any of the group’s many members to being the face of the band, with the exception of Motörhead’s founder, Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister. Much of Burston’s enduring popularity came from his unaffected good nature, his reluctance to avoid playing the role of the rock star and his expert musicianship.
Fans also identified with Burston because of the unlikely manner of his emergence into the public eye. Before joining the band, he worked as a builder and played rock guitar at small club and pub gigs. Although he had developed a dexterous, blues-indebted style that impressed local audiences, his childhood dream of stardom was fading rapidly. “I knew deep down that the only thing I would really be happy doing was playing rock’n’roll,” he recalled, “but I did think, ‘I’m 30 years old – am I going to do anything? How am I going to carry on playing these pubs forever?'”
Burston read, in an interview with Lemmy, that the guitarist Brian Robertson had recently left Motörhead. As he remembered, “I wrote Lemmy a letter and sent a tape, and he phoned me up for an audition. He also said, ‘We’ll probably end up with an unknown guitarist’, and there was no one in the country who was more unknown than I was.”
Born in Cheltenham, Burston served in the army as a corporal before playing in a series of unsuccessful local rock bands. He earned the nickname “Wurzel” as a soldier because of his West Country background and dishevelled appearance, which led his fellow recruits to compare him with the TV character Worzel Gummidge. When Burston joined Motörhead in 1984, Lemmy – who described him as “nearly a basket case” in his 2002 autobiography – encouraged him to add an umlaut, in line with the spelling of the band’s name. Würzel became the madcap court jester and counterfoil to Lemmy’s sterner image.One of his first performances with the band was in an episode of the cult comedy The Young Ones, in which Motörhead performed their signature tune, Ace of Spades.
For the next decade, the British rock press regularly reported on Burston’s antics, including a memorable encounter with the Rolling Stones at the 100 Club in London. “It was downstairs in the basement,” remembered Lemmy. “Würzel ran down there, all excited, and, just as he comes to the bottom, Stones bassist Bill Wyman comes along, and he hits him full-on and lands him flat on his back … Great start to the evening, you know? ‘Hello, Bill, I’ve always been a fan of yours. Oh sorry, have I knocked you out?'”
Despite his comic image, Burston was a serious musician whose composing and performing skills benefited Motörhead greatly. He played on nine studio and live albums between 1984 and his departure in 1995, with the interplay of his guitar and that of his fellow six-stringer Phil Campbell lending the music great versatility and power. Motörhead’s lineup, never a particularly stable entity, changed frequently during Burton’s time in the band. He never really came to terms with living in America, where Motörhead had relocated, and finally left the band after the departure of his good friend, the drummer Phil Taylor.
Burston then performed as a guest on releases by metal bands such as Warhead, and on the 2001 album Artful Splodger by the punk group Splodgenessabounds. He had accumulated a loyal fanbase during his time in Motörhead and many expected him to commence a solo career, but apart from a 1998 album of ambient music, Chill Out Or Die, this failed to materialise.
His friendship with Lemmy remained strong, despite their earlier troubles, and he was often invited to perform guest spots at Motörhead’s shows, including the Guiltfest event in 2009. In recent years, Burston had formed a new band, Leader of Down, but none of their music has been released.
In 1987 Würzel recorded his first solo E.P., “Bess”, that was not so far removed from the Motörhead sound, but also allowed for slightly different ideas. The E.P. included the instrumental title track, two Rock pieces, ‘Midnight in London’ and ‘People Say I’m Crazy’, and an instrumental Jazz Rock-orientated track, ‘E.S.P.’.
In 1998, quasi-inspired by psychedelically-informed experiences in Ghent, Belgium in the early eighties, Würzel played in a Cheltenham band named originally “made in England” then “the Meek” the lead singer Kevin Keane played Brian Eno to Würzel for many hours. Würzel recorded and released an ambient, improvised avant-garde album entitled Chill Out Or Die.
On 9 July 2011, Tim Butcher — longtime bass technician of Motörhead leader Lemmy — reported that Würzel had died. The cause of death was ventricular fibrillation triggered by cardiomyopathy. Before he died, Würzel was working on new material with his new band, Leader of Down, who had previously announced the release of their debut single for early 2010. The following day, Lemmy dedicated Motörhead’s performance at Sonisphere Festival in Knebworth to his memory, as well as dedicating their entire set to him.
December 28, 2009 – The Rev Sullivan (The Reverend Tholomew Plague) or more affectionately called “The Rev”, by his many fans, was born James Owen Sullivan on February 10, 1981. He attended a Catholic school at Huntington Beach, California, until 2nd grade along with future A7X lead singer M. Shadows.
Jimmy was influenced by musicians such as Vinnie Paul, Dave Lombardo, Mike Portnoy, Paul Bostaph and bands like Metallica, Rancid and Transplants. At the age of 17, he did a brief stint with the third-wave ska band Suburban Legends recording their debut album “Origin Edition”.
August 9, 2002 – Paul Samson was born Paul Sanson on June 4, 1953 in Norwich, England.
In 1976 Paul Samson replaced Bernie Tormé in London-based band Scrapyard, joining bassist John McCoy and drummer Roger Hunt. The band name was changed to McCoy, and they built up a busy gigging schedule, whilst also independently playing various sessions. Eventually, McCoy left to join Atomic Rooster. His replacement was the band’s sound engineer and a close friend of Paul Samson’s, Chris Aylmer. Aylmer suggested a name change to Samson, and recommended a young drummer, Clive Burr, whom he had previously played with in the band Maya. Burr joined, and Samson was born, although for a time Paul Samson used bassist Bill Pickard and drummer Paul Gunn on odd gigs when Aylmer and Burr were honoring previous commitments.
October 17, 1993 – Christopher “Criss” Michael Oliva was lead guitarist and co-founder of the heavy metal band Savatage, born in Pompton Plains, NJ on April 3rd 1963. In 1976 the Oliva family moved to Dunedin, Florida and it was here that Criss and his brother Jon formed a band Avatar, in 1978.
But in 1983 as success was looming on the horizon, they had to change their name and decided on Savatage. Under that name they released their first two albums, Sirens in 1983 and The Dungeons Are Calling in 1985. Savatage continued to flourish, releasing a further 6 albums after signing with Atlantic Records in 1985.
The band toured relentlessly, with Criss winning critical acclaim, his biggest dream was for Savatage’s 1991 album Streets: A Rock Opera to achieve platinum status. Streets was Savatage’s biggest mainstream success, and Criss enjoyed the exposure the record gave the band, allowing new fans to be found for their music.
March 19, 1982 – Randall “Randy” Rhoads (Quiet Riot/the Blizzard of Ozz) was born in Santa Monica, California on December 6, 1956.
Randy started taking guitar lessons around the age of 6 or 7 at a music school in North Hollywood called Musonia, which was owned by his mother. His first guitar was a Gibson (acoustic) that belonged to Delores Rhoads’ father. Randy and his sister (Kathy) both began folk guitar lessons at the same time with Randy later taking piano lessons (at his mother’s request) so that he could learn to read music. Randy’s piano lessons did not last very long. At the age of 12, Randy became interested in rock guitar. His mother, Delores, had an old semi-acoustic Harmony Rocket, that at that time was almost larger than he was. For almost a year Randy took lessons from Scott Shelly, a guitar teacher at his mother’s school. Scott Shelly eventually went to Randy’s mother explaining that he could not teach him anymore as Randy knew everything that he knew.
When Randy was about 14, he and his brother formed their first band, Violet Fox, named after his mother’s middle name, Violet. With Randy playing rhythm guitar and his brother Doug playing drums, Violet Fox were together about 4 to 5 months. Randy was in various other bands, such as “The Katzenjammer Kids” and “Mildred Pierce”, playing parties in the Burbank area before he formed Quiet Riot in 1976 with longtime friend and bassist Kelly Garni. Randy Rhoads and Kelly Garni (whom Randy taught to play bass guitar) met Kevin DuBrow through a mutual friend from Hollywood.
Around that same time Randy began teaching guitar in his mother’s school during the day and playing with Quiet Riot at night. Originally called “Little Women”, Quiet Riot were quickly becoming one of the biggest acts in the Los Angeles area and eventually obtained a recording contract with CBS/Sony records, releasing two full length l.p.’s and one e.p. in Japan.
Quiet Riots two records, Quiet Riot 1 (1978), which was originally recorded for an American record label,and Quiet Riot 2 (1979), received rave reviews in the Japanese press, claiming them to be the “next big thing”. Unfortunately these recordings were never released in the United States. While there were plans for Quiet Riot to tour Japan, their management turned down the offer and Quiet Riot stayed in the United States continuing to sell out college and high school auditoriums as well as clubs in the Los Angeles area. Randy was very into his look on stage. He would dress excentric, often wearing polka dotted outfits. He would also sit and draw his name in various designs. One of those now famous designs can be seen on Ozzy’s tribute album: the “RR” was Randy’s creation. About 5 months before Randy left Quiet Riot, he went to Karl Sandoval to have a custom guitar made. Several meetings and drawings later they would ultimately create a black and white polka-dot flying “V” guitar that would become synonymous with the name Randy Rhoads. The guitar would cost Randy $738 and was picked up by Randy on September 22,1979. (September 22, 1979 saw Quiet Riot playing at the “Whiskey a go-go” in Los Angeles, California,… so chances are, that was probably the first place he ever played that guitar in front of an audience.)
In late 1979, at the encouragement of a friend (Dana Strum), Randy went to audition for a band being put together by former Black Sabbath lead singer, Ozzy Osbourne. As the story goes: Ozzy had auditioned just about every guitarist in Los Angeles and was about to go home to England, the hopes of a new band washed away. Enter Randy Rhoads. Randy wasn’t completely interested in auditioning, he was happy with his current band and thought that this audition wouldn’t amount to much. Randy walked into Ozzy’s hotel room late one evening with a guitar and a small Fender practice amp, plugged in and started tuning his guitar and began to do a few warm up exercises. Ozzy was so impressed with his warm up that he instantly gave him the job as lead guitarist at the age of 22.
Ozzy began to assemble a band that would (ultimately) record his first two solo albums.
How the band was formed is a story within a story. There are a few variations:
A) With Ozzy Osbourne, Randy Rhoads, bassist Dana Strum (Slaughter), and drummer Frankie Bannalli (Quiet Riot, W.A.S.P.), the band began to rehearse in Los Angeles, California. However, when it came time to go to England, where Ozzy’s albums would be recorded, the record company could only obtain a work permit for one non-English band member, Randy Rhoads.
B) Drummer Lee Kerslake (who played on both of Ozzy’s solo albums) auditioned and got the position. A few weeks later while in England, Ozzy happened across Bob Daisley. Boasting about this guitar player he’d found, Ozzy convinced Bob to join his band. A few weeks later they began to rehearse for the first album in Los Angeles, California.
C) Ozzy already had a few band members when he met Bob Daisley, who would be the only one to continue on in the band. Randy Rhoads was added shortly thereafter. Lee Kerslake was the last member to join as well as the last drummer to audition. They rehearsed and wrote the first song in England before embarking on a UK tour towards the end of 1980.
Randy was whisked off to England shortly before Thanksgiving of 1979 where, at Ozzy’s home in England, they began to write the “Blizzard of Ozz” album and audition drummers. While the band rehearsed at John Henrys, a rehearsal hall in London, the earliest public performances of Randy Rhoads and Ozzy Osbourne came after they’d complete a song, then go to a local pub to play the song for whoever was there. They played under the name “Law”. One such song – Crazy Train, appeared to get the audience moving, leading them to believe that they “had something”. With ex-Uriah Heap members: Lee Kerslake (drums) and Bob Daisley (bass), the Ozzy Osbourne Band entered Ridge Farm Studios in Surrey, England on March 22, 1980 and began recording for almost a month.
“Blizzard of Ozz” was originally to be mixed by Chris Tsangarides who was fired after one week because Ozzy felt that it “was not happening” with him. Max Norman, Ridge Farm Studio’s resident engineer, was then hired to pick up where Chris left off and would play an integral part of both Ozzy Osbourne studio albums and the live EP, as well as later down the road with “Tribute”. After the finishing touches had been put on “Blizzard of Ozz”, Randy Rhoads returned home to California in May of 1980, where he teamed up one last time with the members of Quiet Riot at the Starwood club in Hollywood for their final show. However, this would not be the last time he played with Quiet Riot bassist Rudy Sarzo, who would later join Ozzy Osbourne’s band just before the start of the United States Blizzard of Ozz tour. Once back in England, the Ozzy Osbourne Band surfaced for their first official show on September 12, 1980 when 4,000 fans broke the box office record at the Apollo Theatre in Glasgow, Scotland. “Blizzard of Ozz” went straight into the U.K. charts at number 7 as they toured around the United Kingdom for close to three months playing 34 shows. Sales of Blizzard of Ozz more than doubled with each U.K.town they played.
December of 1980 brought Randy Rhoads back home to California for Christmas. Once again Randy wanted a custom guitar built, this time he went to Grover Jackson of Charvel guitars, about a week before Christmas. With a drawing scribbled on a piece of paper, Randy Rhoads and Grover Jackson created the very first “Jackson” guitar to ever be made. Randy’s white flying V type guitar was yet another guitar that would become synonymous with the Rhoads name. The finished guitar was sent to Randy in England about two months later.
During the months of February and March of 1981, the Osbourne band once again entered Ridge Farm Studios to record their second album titled “Diary of a Madman”. With an impending U.S. tour to follow soon after the recording of “Diary”, the actual recording of the album became rushed. (Randy’s solo on “Little Dolls” was actually a scratch solo and was not intended to be the solo for the finished song.) None of the bandmembers could be present for the mixing of “Diary”, which only furthered their already mixed feelings of the album.
With “Diary of a Madman” already recorded but not yet released, the Osbourne Band began it’s North American tour in support of “Blizzard of Ozz”, beginning in Towson, Maryland on April 22, 1981. Though they did not play on either studio efforts, Tommy Aldrige (drums) and Rudy Sarzo (bass) joined Ozzy’s band in time for the North American tour. They toured across North America from May through September of ’81 playing songs from “Blizzard of Ozz” as well as “Diary of a Madman”, with a few Sabbath songs thrown in to close their shows.
Choosing to headline their tour instead of going on a bigger tour as a support act paid off as “Blizzard of Ozz” went gold (500,000 albums sold) in 100 days, though in some of the smaller cities in the United States, their shows were threatened to be cancelled due to poor ticket sales. In one such city, Providence, Rhode Island, the Ozzy Osbourne Band (along with opening act Def Leppard) was informed by the concerts promoter that (due to poor ticket sales) he did not have enough money to pay either band.
Towards the end of the United States “Blizzard of Ozz” tour, Randy once again went to Grover Jackson to have another custom guitar made. He complained that too many people thought his white Jackson was a flying-V. He wanted something more distinctive. A few weeks later, Randy and Kevin DuBrow went to look at the unfinished guitar that Grover Jackson had begun to work on. Once in the wood shop, Randy and Grover Jackson began drawing on this unfinished guitar for close to an hour before a final design was decided upon. Ultimately they came up with a variation of his white Jackson, only with a more defined look to the upper wing of the guitar. Randy would receive this guitar, the 2nd Jackson ever made, just before the start of the “Diary of a Madman”tour. At the time, there were three guitars being made for Randy. He received the first one, the black custom, as they continued to finish the other two.(Unfortunately, one of the two guitars, that were being built for Randy at the time of his death, was accidentally sold at an NAMM show by Grover Jackson.) The third guitar, which Jackson stopped working on at the time of Randy’s death, was later owned by Rob Lane of Jacksoncharvelworld.com.
Ironically, as with Quiet Riot, Randy Rhoads’ guitar playing would be heard on two full length albums and one EP, while in Ozzy Osbourne’s band. The “Mr. Crowley” EP featured live performances of three songs including “You said it all”, a song previously unreleased, recorded in October of 1980 in South Hampton, England, during the United Kingdom “Blizzard” tour. (‘You said it all’ was actually recorded during the band’s sound check, with the crowd noise added at the time of mixing.)
With the release of “Diary of a Madman”, Ozzy Osbourne, Randy Rhoads, Rudy Sarzo and Tommy Aldrige set off to Europe in November of 1981 for a tour that would end after only three shows. The tour had to be cancelled after Ozzy collapsed from both mental and physical exhaustion. The entire band went back to the United States so that Ozzy could rest. They would come back a little over a month later with a four month United States tour to start December 30, 1981 at the Cow Palace in San Francisco and a single (Flying High Again) that was making it’s way up the charts.
Traveling with a crew of approximately 25 Las Vegas and Broadway technicians, Randy Rhoads went from selling out Los Angeles area clubs with Quiet Riot to selling out the biggest arenas in the United States on one of the most elaborate stage sets with Ozzy Osbourne. When the “Diary” tour began, their first album, “Blizzard of Ozz” was selling at the rate of 6,000 records a week. Backstage opening night in San Francisco, Randy was awarded with Guitar Player Magazine’s Best New Talent Award. He would also later win best new guitarist in England’s Sounds magazine. With that, the band began an exhausting yet memorable tour that seemed to be plagued with problems. Their concerts were boycotted by many cities while others were attended by local S.P.C.A. officials due to claims of animal abuse. Meanwhile “Diary of a Madman” was well on it’s way to platinum status.
With all of this going on around him, Randy Rhoads’ interest for classical guitar was consuming him more each day. Often times Randy would have a classical guitar tutor in each city the band played. It became common knowledge that Randy wanted to quit rock and roll temporarily so that he could attend school to get his masters in classical guitar. Randy also wanted to take advantage of some of the studio session offers he was receiving. There is a rumor that Ozzy once punched him in the face to “knock some sense into him” (literally).
March 18, 1982, the Ozzy Osbourne band played what would be their last show with Randy Rhoads at the Civic Coliseum in Knoxville, Tennessee. From Knoxville, the band was headed to Orlando, Florida for Saturday’s Rock Super Bowl XIV with Foreigner, Bryan Adams and UFO. On the way to Orlando they were to pass by the home of bus driver Andrew C. Aycock, who lived in Leesburg, Florida, at Flying Baron Estates. Flying Baron Estates consisted of 3 houses with an aircraft hanger and a landing strip, owned by Jerry Calhoun, who along with being a country western musician in his earlier days, leased tour buses and kept them at the Estate. They needed some spare parts for the bus and Andrew Aycock, who had picked up his ex-wife at one of the bands shows, was going to drop her off in Florida.
The bus arrived at Flying Baron Estates in Leesburg at about 8:00 a.m. on the 19th and parked approximately 90 yards away from the landing strip and approximately 15 yards in front of the house that would later serve as the accident site. On the bus were: Ozzy Osbourne, Sharon Arden, Rudy Sarzo, Tommy Aldrige, Don Airey, Wanda Aycock, Andrew Aycock, Rachel Youngblood, Randy Rhoads and the bands tour manager. Andrew Aycock and his ex-wife, Wanda,went into Jerry Calhoun’s house to make some coffee while some members of Ozzy Osbourne’s band slept in the bus and others got out and stretched. Being stored inside of the aircraft hanger at Flying Baron Estates, was a red and white 1955 Beechcraft Bonanza F-35 (registration #: N567LT) that belonged to Mike Partin of Kissimmee, Florida. Andrew Aycock, who had driven the groups’ bus all night from Knoxville and who had a pilots license, apparently took the plane without permission and took keyboardist Don Airey and the band’s tour manager up in the plane for a few minutes, at times flying low to the ground. Unbeknownst to anyone at the time, Andrew Aycock’s medical certificate (3rd class) had expired, thus making his pilots license not valid.
Approximately 9:00 a.m. on the morning of March 19th, Andrew Aycock took Rachel Youngblood and Randy Rhoads up for a few minutes. During this trip the plane began to fly low to the ground, at times below tree level, and “buzzed” the band’s tour bus three times. On the fourth pass (banking to the left in a south-west direction) the planes left wing struck the left side of the bands tour bus (parked facing east) puncturing it in two places approximately halfway down on the right side of the bus. The plane, with the exception of the left wing, was thrown over the bus, hit a nearby pine tree, severing it approximately 10 feet up from the bottom, before it crashed into the garage on the west side of the home owned by Jerry Calhoun. The plane was an estimated 10 feet off the ground traveling at approximately 120 – 150 knots during impact.The house was almost immediately engulfed in flames and destroyed by the crash and ensuing fire, as was the garage and the two vehicles inside, an Oldsmobile and a Ford Granada. Jesse Herndon, who was inside the house during the impact, escaped with no injuries. The largest piece of the plane that was left was a wing section about 6 to 7 feet long. The very wing that caught the side of the tour bus, was deposited just to the north of the bus. The severed pine trees tood between the bus and the house.
Ozzy Osbourne, Tommy Aldrige, Rudy Sarzo and Sharon Arden, who were all asleep on the bus, were awoken by the planes impact and (at first) thought they had been involved in a traffic accident. Wanda Aycock had returned to the bus while keyboardist Don Airey stood outside and witnesses the accident, as did Marylee Morrison, who was riding her horse within sight of the estate. Two men, at the west end of the runway, witnessed the plane buzzing the area when the plane suddenly went out of sight as it crashed.
Once outside of the bus the band members learned of the catastrophic event that had just taken place. The bus was moved approximately 300 feet to the east of the house that was engulfed in flames. The band checked into the Hilco Inn in Leesburg where they mourned the death of Randy and Rachel and would wait for family members to arrive. While Orlando’s Rock Super Bowl XIV scheduled for later that day, was not canceled, the Ozzy Osbourne band would not play and the promoters offered refunds to all ticket holders.
Randy Rhoads died on March 19, 1982 at age 25 but Randy Rhoads’ guitar playing could not be silenced as “Tribute” was released in 1987. Tribute, recorded live, much of it in Cleveland, OH on May 11, 1981 and Randy’s solo in Montreal in July of 1981, continued to earn him recognition as a true guitar virtuoso.
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