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McIver, Joel
Crazy Train: The High Life And Tragic Death Of Randy Rhoads (Book Review)
November 2011
Released: 2011, Jawbone Press
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: JP

It wasn’t that long ago that I had bought and read Rudy Sarzo’s book OFF THE RAILS. I reviewed it on this site back in February of 2010. Sarzo’s book focused heavily on his relationship with Randy Rhoads, so when I heard that McIver was doing a book on Randy Rhoads, my initial thought was, ‘Why bother? It’s just been done with a first hand account.’ I’m glad however that McIver tackled the subject because he has become the first to really tell the whole story of Rhoads start to finish with a broader and perhaps more impartial, more journalistic perspective.

Jawbone always does a nice job, this book has a nice glossy cover and has about 20 photos of Randy on glossy plates. Like most bio’s it runs chronologically and has all the little extra features you would expect, namely an intro by McIver, a foreword by Zak Wylde, a discography, an afterword by Yngwie J. Malmsteen and a handy glossary of guitar terms for the reader who may not know what sweep picking is for example. I always feel it’s these little extras that help make a book shine.

The story of Randy’s all too brief life 1956-1982 is covered across seven chapters and follows up with three chapters entitled, ‘Aftermath’, Ozzie and Quiet Riot To Date’ and ‘ Randy’s Legacy’. I think these are important chapters because they demonstrate what a hole his tragic death left in his family and friends. The story of the post-Randy guitarists, Bernie Torme and Brad Gillis has been told before but not with such clarity and detail.

McIver has said that he has made a deliberate attempt to de-canonize Rhoads but that was hard to do because by most (but not all) accounts he was a pretty decent guy. However, there is a bit of dirt and Randy had his moments of fist-fights and drugs but by Motley Crue standards for example, he was a pretty tame guy. There is quite a bit of talk about guitars, his technique, his gear recording the Ozzy albums, and such bringing much of this info to light for the first time. I found the interviews with Max Norman particularly interesting.

In summation, it’s a great book! Naturally a fan of Rhoads will want to buy CRAZY TRAIN as have it as a perfect companion piece to OFF THE RAILS.

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