Maria Milito

Maria Milito

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What Was Behind Randy Rhoads' Rivalry With Eddie Van Halen?

The Los Angeles rock scene was famously competitive in the late-'70s and early-'80s, especially among young guitarists eager to impress with their chops.

Eddie Van Halen famously soloed with his back to the audience to keep other guitarists from pilfering his techniques and making them famous before he got the chance.

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Ozzy Osbourne referenced a clip from the recent Randy Rhoads documentary, Reflections of a Guitar Icon, in which Eddie asserts that Randy was an "honest" player, but "everything he did he learned from me."

"He was good," Eddie says of Randy. "But I don't think he really did anything that I haven't done. There ain't nothing wrong with it, man. I've copied other people..."

Speaking to Rolling Stone, Ozzy defended his former bandmate, whom he's credited with saving his life. The Prince of Darkness doubted Rhoads would have taken anything from Eddie if he could help it.

"To be honest, Randy didn't have a nice thing to say about Eddie," Ozzy recalled. "Maybe they had a falling out or whatever, but they were rivals."

Randy's feelings about Eddie were not well hidden. His Quiet Riot bandmates used to needle him by taping photos of Van Halen on his wah pedal. Quiet Riot fan club president Lori Hollen recalls in the documentary that Eddie and David Lee Roth often came to see Quiet Riot play in the band's early days. She added, however, that she doesn't believe Randy ever went to see Van Halen.

Reflections of a Guitar Hero director Andre Relis added in another interview with Eddie Trunk that Rhoads and Van Halen came from vastly different backgrounds. It showed in the way they handled attention on their guitar playing.

Eddie wanted to conceal his techniques and the secrets to his sound. Randy, however, would never turn away from the audience.

"On the Randy side, that comes from being a teacher, growing up in a music school and just wanting to teach people," Relis said. "When you watch the way in which Randy Rhoads stood onstage, and the way in which he focused on the audience... He was definitely teaching and sharing."

Randy had lots of opinions about music, beyond his guitar rival. His brother Kelle Rhoads recalls in the film that Randy considered canceling his audition with Ozzy, noting that he didn't much care for Black Sabbath and that Ozzy's famous knuckle tattoos were stupid.

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