MR: Is it hard to believe that it’s been 30 years since Randy died?
ZW: It is hard to believe. But you know, the testimony to Randy’s greatness is the fact that we all still remember. Whenever my buddies and I get together, we can’t help but talk about Randy Rhoads.
Let’s say he didn’t have to go up to God’s tavern when the good Lord needed him. Let’s say he just walked away from it all and went back to teaching, which he was thinking of doing – he wasn’t all that comfortable with the fame thing and playing big places – he’d still be a total legend for what he did on those first two Ozzy records.
What he achieved in just a couple of years is right up there with the best of the best. He did on two albums what most guys can’t do on 20. That’s pretty remarkable.
MR: Before you had a chance to audition for Ozzy, you were studying Randy’s playing.
ZW: Oh, totally. Without a doubt, I studied him. He had unbelievable technique and could do all the things on the guitar that are astounding. His scales, the diminished scales he used – unreal. But it was his writing and the way he composed his solos – I mean, his solos were songs within the songs… He was way ahead of what everybody else was doing.
I learned all of Randy’s solos – before I even got in Ozzy’s band. But when I was in the band, I absolutely played them Randy’s way. You have to. There’s no reason not to. I mean, it’s not like you could fill his shoes – that’s impossible – but you have to give respect to his music. There is no other way. Whether it was me or Jake E Lee or Gus G or anybody, you’ve got to play Randy’s solos like Randy did.
To me, each and every one of his solos are like gold, man. They’re like Stairway To Heaven or Hotel California – you’re waiting for those incredible moments, and when you hear them live, they have to be like on the records.
MR: At any of your first shows with Ozzy, did you experience negativity from Randy loyalists?
ZW: No. Not at all. Everybody was great. The people were on my side because they knew I was one of the guys. I was on the team, you know? They knew I loved Randy as much as them. Everybody was rooting for me.
MR: In playing Randy’s music live, how do you feel it changed you as a guitarist?
ZW: I think any guitarist who’s inspired by or influenced by Randy knows what a brilliant soloist he was. I really got my head around where you could go with a solo by playing Randy’s music. Construction – playing a beginning, middle and end – that’s one of the biggest things I got from him.
There are other things – scales, diminished scales, hammer-ons and pull-offs – that were all part of Randy’s arsenal. But the melodic sense of the solos, how you can tell a whole new story in a song, that’s his crowning achievement.
Randy had what only the greats have – he had feel. Great musicians, you don’t just hear them, you feel them. When I listen to Randy Rhoads, I feel every note. I learned a lot from him.
Read Zakk Wylde’s entire interview with Musicradar.com by clicking here.