At just twenty-five years of age, including two years of career with Ozzy Osbourne, the good of Randy Rhoads decided one day to get in a small plane and start to ‘buzz’ for a joke his tour bandmates who were travelling by coach. The conclusion of that ‘joke’ you all already know. However those few years on the stage were more than enough for him to become one of the most influential guitarists of the 80s.
His skill on the six string won him a contract as Ozzy’s guitarist, with just a ‘warm up’ on his legendary Gibson Les Paul Custom 1974 in Alpine white; yes, that colour that so pleases enthusiasts because it gradually goes yellow over time, turning these guitars into authentic ‘queens of the dance’. But his ability, coupled with search for more versatile guitars, meant that in very little time one of the old familiars of this section, Mr Grover Jackson, started to work with Ozzy’s guitarist, and together with Wayne Charvel and Tim Wilson on what would become his insignia model, the Jackson Rhoads “Concorde” also in white, but with an aesthetic much more in line with that moment in Rock that was already fully into Heavy Metal and, more importantly, more suited to the taste of the californian’s pointed guitars. Starting with the Gibson Flying V, following the first prototype, Rhoads wanted to further highlight the horns of the guitar in the form of a dart, giving it a silhouette that looked more like a shark’s fin, and thus giving it a much more aggressive look than the classic earlier Les Paul that he had ‘copied’ from one of the guitarists that had most attracted his attention years in previous years: Mick Ronson.
This drift towards guitars with a lot of release and pointed started - as we can see in some of the photos together with his gear of that time - with The Karl Sandoval Custom Polka Dot, a model that he ordered from the master builder of Fender first, and Charvel afterwards.
And as could not be in any other way all this arsenal to make metal was plugged in - at least in his glorious period together with the ex-singer of Black Sabbath – to two or three Marshall 1959, with a corresponding tower of speakers responsible for making cheeks tremble in the first row of their concerts. With similar gain coming out of those speakers he didn’t need to add a lot of effect to his solos as the MXR brand was his preferred choice to add sonic colour, together with an MXR Stereo Chorus and the MXR Flanger.
It is curious that with just two studio albums with a guy who was one of the biggest stars in the world, the shadow of Randy Rhoads grew along with the sound that came out of his amplifier to almost the magnitude of Ozzy. The 80s were just kicking off and the world was looking for a guitarist like Randy Rhoads who created a school that would last until today. The legend goes that his last words to Ozzy were “one of these days you are going to end up killing yourself...”