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Randy Rhoads

Randy Rhoads: Reflections Of A Guitar Icon Blu-Ray

Review by Gary Hill

Randy Rhoads was only in the spotlight for those of us outside Los Angeles for a few short years, but he certainly made a lasting impact on the rock music world. I know that I'm in a privileged group because I got to see him live with Ozzy Osbourne in 1981. So, I was particularly interested in this documentary to learn more about him.

I definitely did learn more about the man. I also gained a new appreciation for him based on some of what I learned. I always thought he was a great guitar player, but to me he seemed mostly to be doing a lot of the same things that Eddie Van Halen had done before. That's at least true of his rock stuff. He also brought a lot of classical guitar to the table, but I'd seen plenty of prog guys do that.

Well, as I found out from this documentary, Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhoads were both playing in local L.A. bands at about the same time, and there was a bit of a rivalry between them. Van Halen said that Rhoads got everything from him, but Van Halen had a real problem with giving credit. I remember early on he admitted that he'd gotten his hammer technique from Steve Hackett, but later he denied it. So, I take what he said with a grain of salt.

Now, this is strictly conjecture on my part, but having seen both of them live, and hearing their recorded stuff, in my opinion, Van Halen's tool box was much more limited than Rhoads'. I don't think he was ever as creative. Now that I know that they were coming up in bands about the same time, even though Van Halen broke out into the national scene first, I have to wonder if VH was learning from Rhoads instead of the other way around.

Now, that's sort of rabbit hole divergence from the review, but it was an epiphany, and any documentary that can give you an epiphany has to be good. That wasn't the only revelation I had from this, but it was the big one that will have me rethinking Rhoads' impact and work.

I have to admit that I really didn't know a lot of the Quiet Riot stuff here. I never really "got" Quiet Riot, although, I enjoyed a few of their songs, so I never paid much attention to them. I mean, I knew Rhoads was in the band before working with Ozzy, but I didn't realize that he founded the band or a lot of the rest of the history of the group.

This does suffer from being an unofficial documentary because they use a lot of "sound-alike" music. It does have clips of live performances and other things, and we get other guitarists playing Rhoads' work, though. Honestly, I generally wish that when people do films like this they would skip the "sound-alike" music and go with no music at all, or more soundtrack type stuff that's unrelated to the sound of the artist. That's just my take, though, and only a minor quibble.

All in all, this was an intriguing documentary that really did a great job of paying tribute to the memory or Randy Rhoads. I learned a lot, and that says something. Now it's time to delve back into those two Ozzy Osbourne albums again.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 5. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

 
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