Remembering Randy Rhoads On HIs Birthday

Born on this day in 1956, Randall William Rhoads, the American heavy metal guitarist who played with Quiet Riot and Ozzy Osbourne, would have turned 66.

Originally educated in classical guitar, Rhoads combined these early influences with heavy metal, helping to form a subgenre later known as neoclassical metal. With Quiet Riot, he adopted a black-and-white polka-dot theme which became an emblem for the group. He reached his peak as the guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne's solo career, performing on tracks including "Crazy Train" and "Mr. Crowley" on the Blizzard of Ozz album. "Crazy Train" features one of the most well known heavy metal guitar riffs. Sadly, we lost Rhoads March 19, 1982. After playing his last show on Thursday, March 18, 1982, with Ozzy Osbourne at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum, the band headed to a festival in Orlando, Florida the next day. 

After driving much of the night, they stopped in Leesburg, Florida, to fix a malfunctioning air conditioning unit on the bus while Osbourne remained asleep. On the property there was an airstrip with small helicopters and planes. Without permission, tour bus driver and private pilot Andrew Aycock took a single-engine Beechcraft F35 plane - along with keyboardist Don Airey and tour manager Jake Duncan. He then landed and a second flight took to the air with Rhoads and makeup artist Rachel Youngblood aboard. During the second flight, attempts were made to 'buzz' the tour bus. Aycock succeeded in making two close passes but botched the third attempt. At approximately 10 am, after being in the air for approximately five minutes, one of the plane's wings clipped the top of the tour bus, breaking the wing into two parts and sending the plane spiraling out of control. Rhoads, Aycock, and Youngblood died instantly and all three bodies were burned beyond recognition. Rhoads was identified by dental records and personal jewelry.

It was later revealed after an autopsy that Aycock's system tested positive for cocaine. Rhoads' toxicology test revealed only nicotine. Osbourne later said that Aycock had been doing cocaine all night prior to the crash. The NTSB investigation determined that Aycock's medical certificate had expired. It was later learned that Aycock had been the pilot in another fatal crash in the United Arab Emirates six years earlier

Rhoads' funeral was held at the First Lutheran Church in Burbank, California. Pall-bearers at the funeral included Osbourne and Rhoads' former Quiet Riot bandmate Kevin DuBrow. Rhoads is buried at Mountain View Cemetery in San Bernardino, California.

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