Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
- Posted on Apr 27th 2007 5:00PM by Gaylord Fields
The Southern California-born-and-raised Rhoads, whose mom ran a music school, showed proficiency at his chosen instrument at an early age. He proved adept at both rock and classical styles, which later would serve to have a huge influence on metal guitar technique. Rhoads first received notice as a founding member of the glam-metal group Quiet Riot in the late '70s, well before their mid-'80s hitmaking days. In 1979, he jumped ship to join Ozzy Osbourne's post-Black Sabbath band, where his deft, classically inspired fretwork on the early-'80s albums 'Blizzard of Oz' and 'Diary of a Madman' started earning him comparisons to some of the great guitarists of the rock era.
But it was not as a guitar god that Rhoads earned his place as a rock immortal, alas. The incident that would end his young life transpired on March 19th 1982, as the Osbourne band bus was making its way to the band's next tour stop, in Orlando, Fla. The band decided to park the bus overnight at the Florida home of the bus company's owner, Jerry Calhoun. Early that morning, while Ozzy and most of the band and crew got some needed shut-eye, bus driver Andrew Aycock, a trained pilot, decided to have some fun with a Beechcraft Bonanza housed on Calhoun's property, reportedly both without permission and while high on cocaine.
Rhoads and band hairdresser Rachel Youngblood took up Aycock's offer to go joyriding in the small craft. The high-flying pilot and his passengers must have thought it would be great sport to buzz the busload of snoozing musicians, which entailed veering perilously close to the bus and then pulling away at the last moment. They made three successful passes before the fourth and fatal final buzz, in which a wing clipped the side of the bus, sending Rhoads, Youngblood and pilot Aycock hurtling toward their host's mansion. The plane burst aflame upon impact, killing all aboard. No one in the bus or the house were harmed. Rhoads was a mere 25 years old.
And because all cases of rock-related death seem to need a song recorded by the rocker predicting the tragic event to befall later, the portentous song in this case is 1981's 'Flying High Again' -- and it was released on Jet Records.