Although the “glam metal” or “hair metal” genre emerged in the 1980s, there were a few bands from the 1970s that inspired the creation of the genre. One of those bands is Starz. Although they never achieved that super-major commercial success, they still have their cult following and have influenced artists like Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe, Poison, and Twisted Sister, just to name a few.
Starz guitarist Richie Ranno is also one of the unsung heroes of this metal subgenre, keeping the band’s legacy alive to this day. Recently, Ranno guested on Ryan Roxie’s podcast, discussing various topics, including how he found out about Randy Rhoads, as well as meeting legendary Ozzy Osbourne and Quiet Riot guitarist.
As Ranno explained, they first met at a party organized by Capitol Records before Randy got into Ozzy’s band. Rhoads was a Starz fan, so the two had a brief exchange then and a few days later at a Starz gig in Hollywood. Ranno added (transcript via Ultimate Guitar):
“Then they show up at the Aquarius, that was like an 8-hour day with lots of breaks. So I hung out with him and his girlfriend, and he said the kid that was with him was his bass player… And so I got to know them, and Randy was a nice kid. He told me he played guitar, and I said, ‘Oh, that’s great!’ You know, he was really nice. He was just a good kid.”
At that time, Ranno wasn’t aware of Quiet Riot or Randy. He added:
“We remained friends because every time we went to LA, he was somehow backstage hanging with us. I mean, I didn’t put him on the guest list. I don’t know how he got there. I never asked him. But the last time I saw him, I didn’t know his last name… The very last time I saw him, we were playing the Starwood [West Hollywood club]… I think we did three nights…
“And [on] the last night, we’re talking and he goes, ‘Quiet Riot’… I said, What the hell does that mean? He goes, ‘Oh, that’s my band.’ I said, ‘Okay, that’s fantastic. Good luck with the band.’ A car was coming to get me right at that moment, and I said, ‘Take care.'”
Further on, Ranno explains how he was impressed by Ozzy’s first two records, which was a surprise for him as the Starz guitarist wasn’t really a fan of Ozzy or Black Sabbath. Well, as he explained, he never found guitar playing in Black Sabbath to be “incredible.” He said:
“Now, that was really very important that he said that to me because I was not an Ozzy fan when Ozzy was in Black Sabbath. Because – and I want to explain, I don’t want to offend anyone because people love Black Sabbath. But of course, I was listening to Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple, and Richie Blackmore, and Jimmy Page – incredible guitar playing. And Black Sabbath came up – well, I didn’t hear any incredible guitar playing, to be quite honest. Yeah, these songs were okay… So I was not a fan.”
Although it seems Richie Ranno is not fond of Tony Iommi’s playing, he became a fan of the first two Ozzy records. He explains:
“So, one day, listening to the radio – 1981, I guess it was – I’m hearing this Ozzy stuff, and [the singing] sounds just like Ozzy – but the music’s great. The guitar playing is great, right? I buy the album, but I don’t really know who the players are. I saw Tommy Aldridge who I knew… but I didn’t really pay attention to the other guys…”
“I got both albums, thought they were great. And then the horrible tragedy happened, and I saw I was reading the newspaper and said, ‘Oh my god, the kid died. And they said, ‘Randy Rhoads, formerly of the band Quiet Riot’ – ‘Oh, no…’ That’s when I realized.”
Not long after finding out about the incident, Ranno claims that he was contacted by Ozzy’s camp. According to his words, they called him up because he was an inspiration to Randy. However, he didn’t get the gig in the end. According to Ranno, the story goes like this:
“So then… a good two weeks later, I think [it was] before they did do auditions, and I got a call. They knew that he was a big fan of stars and myself and thought it’d be maybe a good fit. So they flew three people out there: Rudy Sarzo’s brother, Robert, Bernie Tormé, and myself, and I was the first person to play with them.
“And when they were setting up the instruments and getting ready to play, they were all like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe this is the first time we’re getting on our instruments,’ and I thought, ‘Oh, these poor guys, how they must feel,’ so I just jammed [with them]. We didn’t play any songs for a while. And then we played some Ozzy songs…”
“I really thought I was gonna get the gig. I thought I played really well, we all got along really well… But anyway, Ozzy didn’t show for the auditions. They just sent me home after about three days and said, ‘Okay, we picked somebody’…
“So, later, my buddy… he was the lighting director for Ozzy, he called me and said, ‘Listen, the reason you didn’t get it is because Ozzy said, ‘Who had blond hair, any of them?’ And my hair was pretty dark at the time. And Bernie had blond hair, and [the friend] said ‘They took the blond-haired guy.'”
Photo: Wikimedia Commons (sezzles) (Tony Iommi bs)