Although Ozzy Osbourne changed many guitar players over the years, it all comes back to Randy Rhoads. Whoever was taking that role had to play all of those songs, or even sometimes write a piece that would give out those Randy vibes. Even decades after his unfortunate passing, he’s still one of the most influential guitar players out there.
But Ozzy’s first impressions weren’t as great as one might assume today. In fact, he almost didn’t hire Randy after he first met him. Speaking to Stereogum in a recent interview, Ozzy explained that it was bassist Dana Strum who introduced him to Randy, saying:
“He was the one who brought him. I’d never formed a band of people around me, and I’d never auditioned anyone. I didn’t know how to audition. I was in an apartment not far off the Santa Monica freeway, and he brought Randy ’round when I was fuckin’ three sheets to the wind. I’d been drinking all day. And this little guy came in, and I thought he was a girl at first. He was such a tiny guy.”
“I said, ‘Fucking hell. I’m done. I’ve had enough of this. I want to go home now.’ I thought, it’s never gonna work, I’m going home. And Dana said, ‘Just see this one last guitar player.’ I was fucked up. I said, ‘I want to go home. Bring him back tomorrow and I’ll see him.’“
“And I was still fucked up the next day. I went to this studio, and I didn’t know where the fuck the studio was. Randy shows up with this little amp and a white Les Paul, and he says, ‘What do you want me to play?’ I said, ‘Whatever the fuck, I don’t care.'”
However, when Randy actually started playing, Ozzy’s opinion changed. On the other hand, he wasn’t exactly sober and wasn’t 100% sure whether what he was hearing is really THAT good. Ozzy recalls:
“So he started playing, and I was like, ‘What the fuck is this?’ Even in my stupor. I put it to him this way: ‘I don’t know if you’re as good as I think you are, but I’ll see you tomorrow.’ So the next day, when I was sober, he blew my fucking mind off. He just blew my mind. He was fucking unbelievable.”
As far as Randy’s studio work goes, Ozzy explained that he wasn’t just another “hired gun” guitarist but rather a very dedicated hard-working musician. He adds:
“The one thing about Randy Rhoads that I’m forever grateful for, is he spent time with me. He didn’t sit in the recording booth and give me some melody to do over what he played, regardless of whether I could do it on stage or not.
“Then you’d get this stuff that you couldn’t do on stage. But he would say, ‘It would be better if you could sing it in this key,’ you know. He was very patient.”
Photo: Carlos Varela (Ozzy en Chile 2011 (3)), Rick (Randy Rhoads21314)