Randy Rhoads - Guitar Heroes A-Z

“Randy Rhoads [1956-1982] had BEEN making excellent money teaching for about ten years, which meant he never had to go out and play disco, blues, or Steely Dan music in clubs, so his influences were very unusual,” reflected bassist Rudy Sarzo (who played with Rhoads in both Quiet Riot and Ozzy Osbourne’s band) after Rhoads’ untimely death in a 1982 plane crash. “He was not like a typical American guitarist who had influences of R&B, country, and things like that, because he never played that stuff. He mainly listened to classical music and late-’60s, early-’70s English rockers.”

On Ozzy Osbourne’s first solo album, Blizzard of Ozz, Rhoads’ guitar flurries caught the world of hard rock a bit by surprise—suddenly, it was apparent that there was room for more than one virtuoso (Van Halen) atop the lead guitar heap. The fun part about Rhoads’ style is that his lyrical phrases usually stay “in the lane” rhythmically, making his trademark Baroque trills [Ex. 1, à la Osbourne’s “Mr. Crowley”], three-note-per-string legato scale runs [Ex. 2], pick-tapped trills [Ex. 3], and “Flying High Again”-style open-string pull-offs [Ex. 4] fairly easy to cop once you’ve practiced the moves and gotten them up to speed. Throw in some vicious Brit-blues-influenced pentatonic licks as well as the occasional sprig of chromaticism, deliver it all with a Les Paul, a Marshall, and an MXR Distortion+, and you’ll be one Rhoads scholar who’s truly done his homework.