Peter Lindblad of Powerline recently conducted an interview with Andrew Klein, co-author of the new book about legendary guitarist Randy Rhoads, simply entitled “Randy Rhoads”. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Powerline: What is it that makes Randy Rhoads such a compelling character, even all these years after his death?
Andrew Klein: Randy was very different than other legends who have left us too soon, such as Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn. They were amazing guitar players. Randy was an exceptionally gifted musician as well. But the strong interest in Randy 30 years after his passing is attributed to several factors. For starters, he left us just after he made it big. It was a time when we couldn’t wait to hear what would be coming next. Sadly, he passed away and left us hanging and wanting so much more. There is virtually no video of him. This adds to his mystique. We, as fans, want so much more than we were given — more music, more video, more photos. We want more of all things Randy! We just can’t let him go. He was so charismatic. We just can’t get enough of him. All the information that has been released about Randy prior to our book was very on the surface. There hadn’t been anything released that explored and documented who he was. Our book is filled with stories as told by his closest friends who knew him best. They introduce us to the part of Randy that we’ve always wanted to know.
Powerline: His dedication to learning his instrument, even at a young age, is remarkable. What struck you most about his musical education?
Andrew Klein: Well, you nailed it. It was his dedication to learning and furthering himself that we find the most inspiring and remarkable. Even Ozzy was struck by this. When Randy informed Ozzy he was quitting the rock and roll lifestyle in favor of pursuing a master’s degree in classical music, Ozzy asked him to wait a little longer. Ozzy said, “One more year and you can buy your own university. You have to strike while you are hot.” Randy didn’t care about any of that. He made up his mind and nothing was going to persuade him otherwise. There again, it’s that dedication to his beliefs that we find so inspiring. Furthering himself musically was at the top of his priority list. Anyone else would have relished in what he was experiencing. Selling out the world’s biggest arenas and stadiums got old for him rather quick. He got a taste of it and desperately wanted to move on to something else. That was Randy. He had a long list of things he wanted to accomplish.
Powerline: Randy really did go his own way, dressing as he did in high school and even getting into trouble occasionally. What do you think it was that fueled his individualism?
Andrew Klein: Randy was one in a billion. He didn’t try to be different. He was born different. I don’t think he dressed that way because his goal was to be different. He wore what he wanted to wear. He used to take his first girlfriend, Jan, with him when he shopped for shoes. He preferred the girl’s shoes, and he would have her try them on for him. Clearly, he was embarrassed to buy them for himself, and he knew he would get grief for wearing them. It didn’t matter to him. He was very committed to doing what he wanted to do. Sometimes it did get him into a lot of trouble, especially at school. He constantly had jocks wanting to beat him up. They called him names. It didn’t affect him. Randy may have been frail, but he was emotionally strong. It took more than names to rattle him. He just laughed at them.
Powerline: In QUIET RIOT, according to the book, Randy was frustrated by Kevin DuBrow‘s domineering personality, and yet, it was Kevin who pushed Randy to step out of the shadows and become a star. How would you characterize the relationship between them? Could either have become the star they were without each other?
Andrew Klein: Well, you can argue that one didn’t need the other to become a star. They both became stars separately from each other. But the dream was they were going to do it together. Randy and Kevin were the best of friends. Very close. Like brothers. They remained good friends even while Randy was with Ozzy. Kevin attended all the local Ozzy concerts and was invite to after-parties at the Osbournes‘ house. Kevin was domineering and Randy hated that. Randy tolerated it because he knew that that component of Kevin‘s personality was the reason why they were so successful, locally. Those who knew Randy said that if not for Kevin, no one outside of Randy‘s garage would have ever heard him play. Kevin was the driving force. Randy was not a go-getter. He just wanted to play and leave the details to others. He was also non-confrontational, which is why he put up with Kevin. It was easier for Randy to say nothing than to argue. Toward the end of 1979, Randy saw the writing on the wall. Music was changing. Disco, punk, and new wave had taken over. Randy and Kevin never really saw eye to eye musically. When he finally got settled in with Ozzy, he was happier because he felt he had more musical freedom. Ozzy was constantly telling him to “go out there and be the best Randy Rhoads you can be.” Ozzy wanted Randy to be a guitar hero. He wanted that explosive playing all over his records. Kevin stifled Randy and preferred poppy, catchy songs because he thought that’s what would ultimately get them a record deal.
Read the entire interview from Powerline.