Randy Rhoades: Reflection of a Guitar Icon (2022)
Content by Tony Macklin. Originally published on March 13, 2023 @ tonymacklin.net.
Randy Rhoades: Reflection of a Guitar Icon is a bitter-sweet elegy.
Rhoades - born in 1956 - died in 1982. He would be 66 today. In his 25 years of life, he made an important and lasting impression. In 2021, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The indie bio-doc, directed by Andre Relis, is uneven but memorable. What it lacks is personal footage of Randy Rhoades. Randy's voice often is accompanied by still photographs, at times with motion of the camera.
But the film's strength is that it captures the spirit of the likeable, committed artist who was a tremendous force on stage.
Many of the people who are interviewed say words such as "riveting," "mesmerizing," and "virtuoso." His childhood friend and partner Kevin DuBrow was lead singer and writer, but Randy seemed to be the main draw.
In his early, formative years he was the creative force behind Quiet Riot, a band that was very popular in the LA area, but could never get a record contract. When they finally did, the company went out of business.
One of the major interviews is with Drew Forsyth, drummer of Quiet Riot, who speaks at length about the evolution and history of the band. He was a steady member.
Jodi Vigler tells about being Randy's girlfriend, after separating from Kevin. because of his relationships with other girls. She says of Randy, "At the end of the evening, he asked me if I wanted to go to Disneyland. I said 'sure.' That was our first date. From that Saturday on, we never parted."
Kim McNair, Randy's lifelong friend, says, "Randy's personality came through [when he played]. Randy was mischievous. He was fun. That came through in his solo. The people loved him for that."
Randy Rhoades seems very likable. Despite some disagreement with Kevin, the only major adversary was when he had a feud with Eddie Van Halen. But it didn't seem to change him.
Frankie Banali, who joined Quiet Riot as bassist and followed Randy to play in Ozzy Osbourne's band, after Ozzy was fired from Black Sabbath. Randy joined Ozzy at age 22. Banali says of Randy Rhoades, "He looked like a rock star."
Brian Reason, who was an avid fan and became his guitar tech on Quiet Riot, helped Randy offstage as he played on stage. Following Randy's direction, he helped him change the sound, volume, and impact.
Reason says, "the guitar solo... that was mesmerizing... He'd crank it up... He made it sing as I'd never seen before."
The words the people speak are interesting, but we need to see an extended solo performance.
The film comes to vibrant life when we watch a solo by Randy with Quiet Riot that captures his essence. It's accompanied by Reason's words, but it soars above them.
It's a tour de force moment.
It's what makes the film.