Released: 2012, Velocity
There has been quite a bit of activity surrounding the memory of Randy Rhoads. As people commemorate the 30th anniversary of his untimely death, in the past few years the public has seen quite a bit of material about the young guitarist. We have had four books and a movie (and a fifth book by Kelli Garni on the way) released in the last little while. I’m not suggested that Randy is undeserving by any means but as time passes his legend grows with each passing year. The focus of this review is the new, massive coffee-table book simply entitled RANDY RHOADS.
Massive is the only term that could apply, as this huge, oversized hardcover is truly a magnificent work. Running at over 400 pages of full colour on heavy-weight, glossy paper one can understand the hefty (but worthwhile) price tag. Just as a book of photos (regardless of written content) it’s pretty impressive. Speaking of content everything about this book is top-notch, world-class quality. There are quotes, interviews, commentary and much heartfelt prose about Randy. Essentially RANDY RHOADS is an illustrated history of the guitar god. Often in my book reviews I will count the number of photos but in this case I won’t even bother, I’m sure the number is in the hundreds, and some of the more common and well-known Randy photos (eg. the front album cover of the Ozzy Live album, TRIBUTE) are reproduced here in big, bold, bright colour, giving these images new life and meaning. The layout and design lends themselves to the overall visual appeal of the book.
Like most books RANDY RHOADS is chronological starting with many photos of his young life, the house he lived in, the hospital he was born in, his mother, his friends and so forth. The photos and text cover all aspects of his life, and as I browse the book I’m struck that what an awkward, gangly-looking kid he was. I’d stop short of saying ‘funny looking’ but with his feathered hair, bell-bottoms, rail-thin frame, goofy bow-tie and polka-dot flying ‘V’ guitar, have all become part of his iconic look, including his handsome features. In those early days of Quiet Riot (and his other various bands) there are many fond memories and every one looks so young, so happy and so...thin!
It is not all fun and games however. I’ve read/heard the story of Randy’s death dozens of times but to see actual photos of the crash-site, the bus, the plane, the house, it really hits home on the immense waste of the accident/incident. There is a good chunk of the book dedicated to his memory, accomplishments and memory, after his passing. The text at times tends to deify Rhoads but that can be forgiven as the whole point of the book is a tribute/testament to his life, so it can be forgiven if it comes cross as a bit maudlin at times.
This book is really an acknowledgement of the power of music. Stripped down to the basics, Randy played on about four studio albums (two with Quiet Riot, two with Ozzy) for a total of maybe 50 songs across half a decade, and yet here we are a full three decades later discussing his enduring legacy and influence on Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. It is said that if a young gifted person; an athlete, an actor, a writer, artists or musician dies before their time, they are more subject to the cult of personality and likely to be the subject of hero worship. However, in the case of Randy Rhoads all those attributes he demonstrated show that he was deserving of such accolades. This book is one such testament, one to be shared with all Randy fans and will stand as the ultimate tribute to his short life.