Bob Kulick on Helming "Immortal Randy Rhoads"

Randy Rhoads’ star burned epically bright for a tragically brief time.

Randy Rhoads’ star burned epically bright for a tragically brief time. He formed the seeds of Quiet Riot in 1973 before getting a huge break by joining Ozzy Osbourne in 1979 to record two classic metal albums, Blizzard of Ozz (1980) and Diary of a Madman (1981). In 1982, while on tour with Osbourne, Rhoads was killed in a small airplane crash. But those short “Ozzy years” produced a legacy that just seems to grow and grow, inspiring countless players to celebrate Rhoads’ mammoth achievements in guitar-craft and songwriting.

Those achievements are now illuminated anew by the release of Immortal Randy Rhoads:The Ultimate Tribute (UDR Music) that features Rhoads’ co-writing compositions performed by guest guitarists such as Tom Morello, Dweezil Zappa, George Lynch, Gus G, and Bruce Kulick. Produced by noted session guitarist (Kiss, Meat Loaf, Lou Reed, etc.) and studio wizard Bob Kulick, the album is available in all digital formats, as well as vinyl and a digipack with accompanying DVD that includes interviews with the Kulicks, Zappa, and others. Here, Bob Kulick shares some of his insights about the album.

How did you get tapped for this project?

I think the big help for this whole thing was the fact that Rudy Sarzo is a friend of mine, and Rudy played with Randy in both Quiet Riot and Ozzy. Frankie Banali is a friend of mine. George Lynch taught at the school with Randy. These are all my friends, and having people who knew Randy validate that I was the guy to tackle this project was huge. Of course, Randy deserves to be honored because Randy Rhoads is an icon. His music lives on, and people still respond to him. Go online and see the reverence people have for him. My generation worshiped Clapton, Hendrix, Beck, and Page. Those were my gods. But to younger players like Tom Morello, Jon Donais, and Alexi Laiho, Randy was the god. Tom Morello named his child after him.

How did you choose the material?

The most important thing for me is to allow the fact that I’m a fan to enter into the equation, so I relied on my instincts. Being a fan, which songs would I like to hear, and who would I like to hear play them? The whole point of a record like this is not to make it a regurgitation of what Randy did. It’s not a contest to see who was able to get closest to being Randy Rhoads. The object was for each of the players to put their own stamp on it.

Trafficking all the players and their tracks must have been a bit of a chore…

We did the basics here [in Los Angeles] on Pro Tools, but the guitar parts were recorded all over—England, Greece, Finland, the United States. Wherever the players where, they would do their thing and send the audio files back to me. This is a worldwide record!

Did any tracks blow your mind?

I’m proud of the whole thing, and everyone did an amazing job. But Tom Morello’s solo on “Crazy Train” is pretty monstrous. I don’t think there’s another player on the planet who could conceive what he did on that track.

Were there any other moments that made this project special?

Nobody played on this record for the money. Everybody wanted to pay homage to somebody they either knew, or had influenced them, or had loved. And that gives this record more heart and soul than any record I’ve ever done. I don’t think it was an accident that I did this. It was meant to be. I just feel so positive and good about honoring such a great player who was taken away too soon.

Blast from GP’s Past

Here’s an insight from the pages of Jim and Dara Crockett’s new book, Guitar Player:The Inside Story of the First Two Decades of the Most Successful Guitar Magazine Ever [Backbeat/Hal Leonard]—a collection of oral histories from the editors, photographers, artists, and advertisers who were in the magazine’s orbit during that era.

Guitar Player was the first national magazine that actually took our kind of music seriously. We’ve all come to take for granted that the guitar is probably the most popular instrument of all time. But this wasn’t always the case, and Guitar Player certainly helped our cause. It was a big deal to get respect from a national mag that was geared to serious guitarists.

“The GP interviewers were knowledgeable about the guitar—good questions, good conversations. The magazine certainly gave me a voice and a visibility that I would not have otherwise had. And being on the June 1976 cover—how could it get any better than that? What an honor, and it still is, after all these years.”
—Jorma Kaukonen