DEAD: ON THIS DATE
Randy Rhoads (aged 25)
American guitarist (Quiet Riot, Ozzy Osbourne)
Randall William Rhoads (December 6, 1956 – March 19, 1982) was an American heavy metal guitarist who played with Quiet Riot and Ozzy Osbourne. A devoted student of classical guitar, Rhoads combined his classical music influences with his own heavy metal style. He died in a plane accident while on tour with Osbourne in Florida in 1982. Despite his short career, Rhoads, who was a major influence on neoclassical metal, is cited as an influence by many guitarists. Rhoads is included in several “Greatest Guitarist” lists.
DEATH: Rhoads played his last show on Thursday, March 18, 1982, at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum. The next day, the band was heading to a festival in Orlando, Florida. Osbourne recalls his final conversation with Rhoads that night on the bus involved the guitarist admonishing him over his heavy drinking. The last thing Rhoads said to him that night was, “You’ll kill yourself, you know? One of these days.” After driving much of the night, they stopped in Leesburg, Florida, to fix a malfunctioning air conditioning unit on the bus while Osbourne remained asleep. On the property there was an airstrip with small helicopters and planes. Without permission, tour bus driver and private pilot Andrew Aycock took a single-engine Beechcraft F35 plane registered to a Mike Partin. On the first flight, Aycock took keyboardist Don Airey and tour manager Jake Duncan. He then landed and a second flight took to the air with Rhoads and makeup artist Rachel Youngblood aboard. Rhoads had tried unsuccessfully to coax bassist Rudy Sarzo to join him on the flight, but Sarzo chose to get some extra sleep instead.During the second flight, attempts were made to ‘buzz’ the tour bus. Aycock succeeded in making two close passes, but botched the third attempt. At approximately 10 am, after being in the air for approximately five minutes, one of the plane’s wings clipped the top of the tour bus, breaking the wing into two parts and sending the plane spiraling out of control. The initial impact with the bus caused Rhoads’ and Youngblood’s heads to crash through the plane’s windshield. The plane then severed the top of a pine tree and crashed into the garage of a nearby mansion, bursting into flames.Keyboardist Don Airey was the only member of the band to witness the crash, because the rest were asleep in the bus. Rhoads (25) was killed instantly, as were Aycock (36) and Youngblood (58). All three bodies were burned beyond recognition, and Rhoads was identified by dental records and personal jewelry. According to Sharon Osbourne, who was asleep in the bus and awoken by the crash, “They were all in bits, it was just body parts everywhere”. Though all were quite distraught, the remaining band and crew members were forced to remain in Leesburg for an additional two days, until preliminary investigations were completed. Rhoads’ brother-in-law flew from California to Leesburg to identify what remained of the guitarist’s body.