March 19th, 1982. To borrow a line from Franklin D. Roosevelt, “A date, which will live in infamy.” Where do I start when I think of the late great Randy Rhoads? If Eddie Van changed the landscape for rock guitarists, Randy expanded our horizons. Many words comes to mind when I think of him, but the one that stands out is “fearless.” He was, as we all wish we could be completely original, without apologies. What would it be like if you had the ability to transform your thoughts into powerful, yet melodic musical passages?
As naturally as the air you breathe, I thought and when you see this in real life, you just smile. For the very few, the ones with “the gift,” it almost feels like through their talents, it belongs to you as well. I never did see Randy when he was alive, but recently I did get to see the next best thing. I was but a handful of fortunate people to witness the recent Randy Rhoads tribute concert in Los Angeles NAMM weekend. It was as if Rock’s “who’s who” eagerly showed up, or should I say showed out to pay homage to Randy and his fans. From Nuno Bettencourt to Brad Gillis, they all came to that little spot on the map as if a certain star shined brightly in the Northern sky. I would have to say friends, the event was spectacular. I, along with friends sang every song, played every note (if only in our minds) and for that two hour span of time, the world as we knew it ceased.
As far as March 19th 1982? I know where I was; I was riding in a car up Highway I-20, on my way to see my high school sweetheart. What came on the radio that fateful day both shocked and saddened me and my best friend. He and I had to pull over for a moment of silence. Like a generation before us, when Buddy Holley suddenly passed away in an airplane crash, so history repeated itself again. As the years pass us by, what really saddens me is the thoughts of what might of been and what should have been. Randy left a huge and indelible footprint.
As I write this, I’m listening to Blizzard of Oz and I’m smiling. I’m also grateful that me, a mere mortal got to bask in the glow of greatness, if only for a short while. I know this is a “1980” Les Paul Custom in Black. But, Randy also played one (albeit a 50’s black triple pickup) but still a Black Custom.