Was Randy Rhoads an overrated guitarist?

EVH is my number 1 and RR is 2 but is he all that great? I mean he passed away in 1982 and I guess everyone thought he was  a God which he is, but for the wrong reason.

He did something that no other has really done except Yngwie, Uli Jon Roth and Ritchie Blackmore.

My  thing with him is that he pretty much stuck to the rule book. EVH, Jake, Page, Hendrix they were all unorthodox compared to those other classical guitarists. 

EVH started tapping , harmonics, volume swells etc... Page and maybe even Richards were playing around with  open tunings something Randy hasn't really done

1 Answer

  • Andrew
    Lv 7
    2 months ago
    Favorite Answer

    In what way might he be considered "overrated"? 

    Despite what you obviously mistakenly believe, music is not a competition. Many different factors go in to what makes a guitarist impressive or appealing and that criteria is bound to vary from one person to the next. 

    Randy Rhoads died young. That's a fact. But that hard truth cuts two ways: Firstly, because it means that he accomplished a great deal in a very short time, and secondly, because his potential was snuffed out far too soon and we can only speculate as to what he might have gone on to do had he lived. 

    Randy Rhoads was born into a musical family and began learning music from a very young age. He was capable of playing multiple instruments, he was musically literate and had an extensive understanding of musical theory, and while he was exposed to a wide range of musical influences, he developed a distinct style of his own. 

    He was renowned for his lead guitar work, which was rather versatile - he is most recognised for incorporating a lot of neo-classical elements into his playing, but he was no slouch when it came to playing blues based straightforward rock and roll riffs and licks either. He is also recognised for his songwriting - some of his riffs are still considered to be among the best, most memorable and most iconic rock and metal riffs of all time. 

    Lastly, he had his own tone as well. He was open to experimenting with different effects and recording techniques and that added something to his style. He was just at home with a nylon stringed classical guitar recording directly into a microphone as he was layering synthesized rhythm tracks and laying down leads that were crisp as a bell or reverb heavy. He could say more with only a few notes than other guitarists manage over the course of an entire album. 

    While he had been part of the scene for years before he joined up with Ozzy, the fist two Ozzy records are where he really came into his own. Ozzy is not and never has been a songwriter. Aside from some very mediocre and rudimentary harmonica skills, Ozzy has never displayed so much as a hint of musical ability. Randy Rhoads composed nearly all of the music for the first two records, records which are widely considered to be among the best rock and metal records of all time. "Blizzard of Ozz" is easily one of the strongest debuts in metal history, and that's thanks to Randy Rhoads. Ozzy gave Randy free hands to do what he wanted to do and the end result was spectacular. 

    We could talk about how riffs like the ones in "Crazy Train" and "Suicide Solution" and "Believer" are immediately recognisable and still hit like a sledgehammer all these years later. We could talk about how Randy's leads in songs like "Mr. Crowley" and "Over the Mountain" are masterfully crafted, each run melding into the next one, or how the lead on a track like "S.A.T.O." is the kind of solo a guitarist might lay down once in a lifetime. We can talk about how that fade out to the lead at the end of "Tonight" can only induce a sense of wonder at what in God's name might have made it onto the recorder in the studio that never made it onto the record. I've thought about that for years on end now. We could talk about how hauntingly beautiful the guitar lines are on the title track to "Diary of a Madman" and how insane it is that "Revelation, Mother Earth" is basically a classical piece masquerading as a metal song. There's a reason why people are still talking about Randy Rhoads all these years later. 

    Recognising how incredibly talented Randy Rhoads was doesn't mean that we can't recognise how incredibly talented Van Halen is. Like I said, it's not a dichotomy. Eddie doesn't sound anything like Randy. I was just listening to Van Halen I and Van Halen II earlier today. It's easy to forget how minimalist some of Eddie's guitar parts are on those records because he's another player who can do so much with so few notes. He's another guitarist whose tone is distinguishable, whose style is unmistakable, and whose talent is undeniable. Where Randy went in for rigid timing and his fills and his leads always seemed so perfect, there's a sense of spontaneity to what Eddie does, there's this wonderful sense of chaos and disjointedness to his songs, but everything still fits together so brilliantly. He's got this great scratchy staccato rhythm style with this crisp crunch and then he's got these lovely, starkly original lead breaks that just sing and echo and hiss and roar and with those harmonics and those dive bombs and that tapping, listening to his playing is like being inside of an amorphous cloud of musical genius. Where Randy was like a clock - steady, persistent, resolute, Eddie is variable, unpredictable, unconstrained. His licks and his runs defy categorisation. Is that run in a classical mode? Is that a blues lick? Is it chromatic? It's everything all at once. You can't put your finger on it. And Eddie is also just as comfortable with an acoustic as he is shredding in front of a stack with a pedalboard of effects going. 

    You can't really say that one guitarist is "orthodox" while another is "unorthodox." What does that mean? Is playing with a plectrum orthodox or unorthodox? What about playing without one? Playing with a bow? Is playing with one's teeth or with the guitar behind one's back unorthodox or gimmicky? Ask ten people, get either answer every other time. Is it about speed or is it about style? Is it about technique or is it about tone? Eddie doesn't really use alternate tunings either. Does that mean that Keith Richards is better than somebody who's more comfortable playing in standard tuning? Imagine Robert Fripp sharing a stage with Keith Richards. Who could possibly deny that Fripp is infinitely more flashy and technical? 

    Who wrote this "book" you're referring to? You keep talking about the same guitarists everybody talks about - Hendrix, Van Halen, Rhoads, Malmsteen, Iommi, Page, Blackmore, Richards.. I mean, we could add names like Satriani and Vai, Buckethead, Slash, Clapton, Beck, Gilmour, I could go on. But what's the point? The fact that they've all contributed to the dynamic that we have in the world of guitar playing is a wonderful gift. The variety that they bring to music when you're familiar with all of them is a blessing. I know you're obsessed with Ozzy, but you really have to start branching out into other stuff and if you really and truly want to develop and grow and progress as a guitarist - or even just as a fan of music, you've got to widen the scope and quit limiting everything to this tiny number of guitarists. 

    You've got such a one-dimensional view on guitar playing.    

    • Login to reply the answers
Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.