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R.I.P Randy Rhoads (December 6, 1956 – March 19, 1982)

As Ozzy’s guitarist on the debut solo album by the former Black Saabbath singer, Randy Rhoads set the rock world on fire with his guitar playing. He kicked it up a notch from where Eddie Van Halen had taken it , with rapid staccato style and two handed hammer ons. It made him legend!

Randy’s life and career was cut short on this date back in in 1982.

Randy Rhoads played his last show on Thursday, March 18, 1982 at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum in Knoxville, Tennessee. The next day, the band was headed to a festival in Orlando, Florida. After driving much of the night, they stopped on the property belonging to Jerry Calhoun, owner of “Florida Coach”, in Leesburg, Florida. On it, there was a small airstrip lined with small helicopters and planes, and two houses. One belonged to the tour bus driver Andrew Aycock, and the other was owned by Calhoun. Aycock, a licensed pilot, talked the band’s keyboardist Don Airey, into taking a test flight with him in a ’55 Beechcraft Bonanza. By some accounts the manager Jake Duncan, was also on this first flight. The joyride ended and the plane landed safely. Then Aycock took Rhoads and hairdresser/seamstress Rachel Youngblood on another flight. Rhoads was persuaded to go on the second flight, despite his fear of flying.

Rhoads apparently agreed to go for two reasons: the seamstress had a heart condition so Aycock agreed to do nothing risky, and Rhoads wanted to take an aerial photo as one of his hobbies was photography. During the second flight, attempts were made to “buzz” the tour bus where the other band members were sleeping. They succeeded twice, but the third attempt was botched. The left wing clipped the back side of the tour bus, tore the fiberglass roof then sent the plane spiraling. The plane severed the top of a pine tree and crashed into the garage of a nearby mansion, bursting into flames. Rhoads was killed instantly, as were Aycock and Youngblood. All three bodies were burned beyond recognition, and were identified by dental records and Rhoads’ jewelry.

It was later revealed in an autopsy that Aycock’s system showed traces of cocaine at the time. Rhoads’ toxicology test revealed only nicotine. The NTSB investigation determined that Aycock’s medical certificate had expired and that his biennial flight review, required for all pilots, was overdue.

In Ozzy Osbourne’s autobiography titled “I Am Ozzy”, he writes that the night of Rhoads’ death, he told his wife, Sharon: “I don’t think I want to be a rock ‘n’ roller anymore”. Rhoads’ funeral was held at the First Lutheran Church in Burbank, California. He is interred at Mountain View Cemetery in San Bernardino, California, where his grandparents are also buried.

Below is video of Randy receiving an award from Guitar Player Magazine in 1982

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