Randy Rhoads Earns Rock Hall Musical Excellence Award
Late guitar virtuoso and Ozzy Osbourne collaborator Randy Rhoads received the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's Musical Excellence Award during the 2021 induction ceremony.
Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello inducted Rhoads with a video message, noting how he named his son after the late guitarist. "Randy Rhoads is a peerless talent," he said. "He revived Ozzy Osbourne’s career as his gunslinger sideman. And it was Randy Rhoads’ poster that I had on my wall. ... You could study Randy’s songs in a university-level musicology class and bang your heads to them in a 7-11 parking lot."
"Randy's guitar sound was giant," added Metallica's Kirk Hammett in a video tribute, explaining how he copies some of of Rhoads' solos on his band's records. Osbourne, Steve Vai and Zakk Wylde also offered testimonials to Rhoads in a video tribute.
Rhoads left an indelible stamp on heavy metal during his brief, incendiary career. The Santa Monica-born guitarist cut his teeth on the Sunset Strip as a teenager with future glam-metal chart-toppers Quiet Riot, releasing two albums — 1977's Quiet Riot and 1978's Quiet Riot II — in Japan only. Quiet Riot broke up for two years shortly after Rhoads left in 1979; singer Kevin DuBrow later said his departure "didn't derail the band, it ended it."
The guitarist also auditioned for Osbourne's burgeoning solo band in late 1979. By the time he finished warming up on his Gibson Les Paul, he had gotten the gig. "Even in my drunken, stoned-out stupor, I go, 'This is fucking one of the best things I've ever heard in my life, or these drugs are really good!'" Osbourne recalled years later.
Osbourne's first two solo albums, 1980's Blizzard of Ozz and 1981's Diary of a Madman, became multiplatinum smashes and bona fide classics. Rhoads' six-string pyrotechnics shattered the boundaries of rock guitar, much like Eddie Van Halen's had done two years earlier. His blazing solos on songs like "Mr. Crowley," "Crazy Train" and "Over the Mountain" helped pioneer the neoclassical metal subgenre, which combined traditional heavy metal with classical influences.
Rhoads' life and career were cut short when he died in a plane accident on March 19, 1982, at the age of 25. Osbourne honored his friend and partner with the 1987 live album Tribute, which comprises footage of performances with Rhoads.
In the liner notes, Osbourne wrote: "It's like Randy was with me for a lot longer than he actually really was. Sometimes I think he's still with me now. Guitar players have a thing where their guitars are an extension of their penis. With Randy, he was an extension of his guitar. There's a big difference."
Osbourne expressed his excitement over Rhoads' Rock Hall inclusion shortly after it was announced. "I'm so happy that Randy's genius, which we all saw from the beginning, is finally being recognized and that he is getting his due," Osbourne told Sal Cirrincione of Premiere Radio Networks. "I only wish he was here in person to get this award and that we could all celebrate together. It's really great that Randy's family, friends and fans get to see him honored this way."
Zakk Wylde, who has served as Osbourne's guitarist on-and-off since 1987, praised Rhoads’ compositional and technical abilities in a recent UCR interview. "Randy didn't like Sabbath at all," Wylde said. "So, from the world he was coming from and where Ozzy is coming from, the fact that he didn't like Black Sabbath at all, and wasn't influenced by Sabbath or anything like that, is really how that soup worked."
He added that Osbourne "really was the ultimate foil for Randy to be the best Randy and bring all of his capabilities to light."
The 2021 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will air on Nov. 20 on HBO alongside a radio simulcast on SiriusXM Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Radio.