A Metal Tragedy: The Death of Randy Rhoads

Randy Rhoads

Randy Rhoads

Actually, I’m quite surprised that no one pointed this out when I posted my “Triumphs and Tragedies” post for 1982. While the death of John Belushi was certainly a tragic occurrence, for metalheads, the terrible loss of Randy Rhoads was a far bigger tragedy because on March 19, 1982, the world was robbed of a guitar god. That is why I felt that Rhoads’s death deserved its own post because for metalheads, his death overshadowed everything else in 1982 in the same way that John Lennon’s murder did for the world in 1980.

For any metalhead, it’s standard 101 to know that Randy Rhoads was killed in a plane crash on that tragic day in March, 1982 but it is only now that I have fully learned the full details behind the crash. The pilot had taken Randy and the band’s make up artist up in a small plane for a little bit of show boat flying. After making two successful attempts to fly close to the tour bus that was parked nearby, the pilot botched the third attempt, hitting the bus, severing the top of a pine tree before crashing into a garage of a nearby mansion. The contact with the bus forced Rhoads’s head to crash through the windscreen and then he was immediately incinerated when the plane exploded into a fireball after hitting the garage. While only God himself could have saved the three people in the plane, it still took over a half hour before the fire service arrived on the scene and then it was only one engine. This leads me to speculate two possible reasons for this. One was the fact that it was rural Florida and the local fire department would probably have been a volunteer one so there would have been a great delay in the response. The other, a result of me seeing anti- metal conspiracies all over the place, is the fact that the locals weren’t too bothered in responding quickly because it was a bunch of heavy metal people involved. In any case, heavy metal and the world lost a truly magnificent guitar player on that day.

Standard Metal knowledge 102 teaches that while Randy is no longer with us, his legacy will never die. From that fateful day, the tributes to Randy Rhodes and what he has done for music continue to pour in. His former band Quiet Riot dedicated a song to him on their next album and Ozzy Osbourne released a tribute album to Randy a few years after that and rest assured, I’ll be visiting both when the time comes. Young guitarists still study his guitar style and Jackson Guitars still sell a replica of the one he used to wow audiences with his playing. Randy might have only lived for 25 years (way too young) but his memory has lived on for the last 33 years and will go on forever. Here’s where I should urge everybody to go out and listen to some album where Randy appears. There’s really no need because I know that everybody reading this will have already done so in the recent past and will continue to do so well into the the future.

R.I.P. Randy Rhoads

Next post: Anvil- Metal on Metal

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18 Responses to “A Metal Tragedy: The Death of Randy Rhoads”

  1. It was a tragedy and it is hard to believe that we lost him because of pure show boating stupidity, but that was the case. I don’t buy the conspiracy, I am surrounding by “good ol boy” redneck volunteer firemen AND those guys will do everything to save you! They keep the American wasteland as safe as they can.


  2. I meant surrounded – my brain is surrounded in an early morning haze—-cheers!


    • I don’t doubt the professionalism of any fire service, volunteer or full time and they would do anything to save anyone. My conspiracy theory lies behind how metalheads were sometimes treated in the 80s. I have been criticized in my book “Rock And Roll Children” of overpounding my point of how metalheads were discriminated against. The fact was that we were. The death of Randy was still a tragedy, especially as he died in such a stupid way.


      • Maybe they were – but I honestly did not see it here in upstate NY back in the 80’s – Punk rockers, maybe – but metal always did play fine up here—and still does. I am not/was not a “Metalhead” but I went to a few shows just because there were so many at the time. Maybe this area is unique so my experience is slanted?


      • It’s great that metal played fine in upstate New York, maybe I should have headed up there when I left the service. I did have a buddy from the marines who lived in Caroga Lake near Bingham. Instead, I went back to Southern New Jersey and metalheads were treated like sh*t there.

        Liked by 1 person

      • We always got room up here in the Adirondacks for another metal man!


      • Thanks dude!


  3. My brother was a volunteer and is now a full time firefighter. All of them do not care if you are a meth addict or a mayor. Many have given up their own lives to save others.
    I can only suspect tjat it was the rural location at fault. Also, this was before the days of gps and it could have been poor information of the exact location given by an emotionally upset caller.
    This was an absolutely horrible loss. Easily a top 10 guitarist of all time in my book. When I go into the afterlife I want to hear a jam with Randy, Jimi, SRV, Duanne Allman, Dimebag, Harrison, Jeff Healey, BB King, and Mel Brown.


    • It was most certainly down to the rural location and I have nothing but admiration for firefighters. They are dedicated to saving lives, end of. While we lament the horrible lost of Randy, we can be assured that he is probably jamming away with all the guitarists you mention in a better place.


  4. Every time I listen to Randy, no matter what album, I always say to myself, What would he have done next? 84, 85, 86…what could Randy Rhoads have done? With or without Ozzy.

    One of the most tragic losses in all heavy metal.


    • Ozzy has to be the luckiest guy in music history for his succession of awesome guitarists, one after the next.
      I have also wondered the what if about how Randy’s career would have went. I would have loved some solo stuff, a one album reunion with QR during the 80’s, taking over for Dimebag and a Pantera reunion, joining Def Leppard and stopping the music from being too sappy, joining Guns N Roses and keeping Axl from being Axl. The possibilities are endless.


      • In my timeline, he replaces Vinnie Vincent in Kiss 😉


      • Wow. That makes perfect sense. Although I think Gene and Paul would have asked him to tone it down, as he was upstaging them. That would have only lasted for an album or 2 and he woukd be forced out by the egos. He would then move onto a band that has less ego and doesn’t try and control it’s members, such as Van Halen. 😉

        Seriously though. Just think of dual guitar front of EVH and Randy Rhoads. That would have made Van Hagar be less of a pop/rock act and a legit replacement for Roth fronted VH.


      • I like your VH alternative.


      • You’re so right, the possibilities are endless. In my scenario, Randy replaces joins Dio after the firing of Vivian Campbell


    • Definitely agree! That’s why I gave his death it’s own post.


  5. I LOVE your Dio with Randy scenario. He would have helped in the writing process, and he would have been a seasoned rock guitarist(instead of a teenager)that Dio would have listened to, and the writing in the albums after Vivian Campbell left needed some help. I think Dio could have gotten back to the status of Last in Line and Holy Diver. When I go to the great beyond I want to hear band fronted by Dio and featuring Randy. Just wow.


    • Wow, I didn’t think it would have that effect, thank you. Craig Goldy wasn’t that bad of a replacement after Campbell and the “Dream Evil” album was a little step up from “Sacred Heart.” Still, the teenager as a guitarist wasn’t the best move Dio could have made and I certainly agree that Randy with Ronnie would have been phenomenal.


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