OCTOBER 6th 2012

ANDREW KLEIN: RANDY RHOADS
 

Metaltitans had a chance to talk to Andrew Klein who along with Steven Rosen have written a biography on Randy Rhoads, which vividly documents Randy’s life and career. Chalked with hundreds of rare photographs and memorabilia, the book chronicles an oral history of Randy’s remarkable life through those who knew him best.

1: How did the book come about?

I've been a fan of Randy's since 1981. I was lucky enough to discover him and recognize his brilliance while he was still with us.  After he died in 1982, like most fans, I waited and I waited year after year for something great to be released that would honor him. In 2008, I found myself still waiting. So, along with my good friend, Peter M. Margolis, we decided to create the book together. Peter was instrumental in basically giving life to the book. He was Randy's friend and guitar student.  Peter had established relationships with Randy's closest friends, band mates, acquaintances, and his fiancé Jodi Vigier. None of these people had ever spoken publicly about Randy. They shared their memories of Randy with us, which is what makes the book special.  Without their support and contributions, the book would have included the same stories we've all read many times.
 

2: Was this something you wanted to do for a long time?

I always had the confidence to do it.  I felt that I knew a lot about Randy and I had a keen understanding of what made him so special, beyond his musical abilities. That said, I am not a writer by trade nor do I aspire to be.  That is why Steven Rosen was brought in to help. He is a gifted writer who is also highly intelligent and extremely knowledgeable in many areas. I think the best writers are the ones who are well read themselves.  This guy has read everything. That encyclopedia in his head is a useful tool for him. Steven was able to help me express myself in a way that is seemingly poetic. The book has a lot of class. It's elegant. I wanted it to be representative of Randy and all the things that we love about him.  

 

3: Can you tell us about the writing process of the book and how long it took to gather all the source material to compile 400 pages?

The planning stages, combined with research, interviews, layout, photo placement, etc., took about two and a half years. Peter and I conducted many of the interviews together. Some of them were conducted by Steven. Once we had them all in hand, it was a matter of piecing it all together to craft Randy's complete story.
The writing, start to finish encompassed a little more than four years.  


4: How did you obtain the photos for the book?

Randy Rhoads fans, such as myself, can look at a photo of Randy and instantly identify who shot it.
I contacted virtually all the photographers, told them I was creating a biography on Randy Rhoads and asked if I could include their photos.  Many of them such as Ron Sobol, John Livzey, Neil Zlozower, Paul Natkin, Jeff Mayer, Dan Raabe, Jack Lue, Ross Halfin, Fin Costello, and Daniel Larsen were super nice to me.  Some of them later became dear friends of mine. These guys would allow me into their homes and studios and let me rummage through all of their photos. I couldn't believe how many I found that had never been published. For many of these photographers, shooting Randy was just another day at work. They had libraries of Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, John Lennon and every superstar you can name. So, because there was never a high demand for the photos, they were basically filed away in the back of the bottom drawer.  They've all told me that some of the guitar magazines would call once or twice per year for one or two photos and that was it.  I was really happy to find some images that hadn't been seen before.  

In addition to the photographers, we were also very fortunate to obtain photos from Randy's friends, band mates, and of course Jodi.  Lori Hollen was Quiet Riot's fan club president. Randy absolutely adored her.  She was helpful in so many ways, one of which was introducing Peter and I to Randy's friends.  She also gets all the credit for getting Jodi on board.  Jodi needed to distance herself from all things related to Randy because her loss was just too painful.  Getting her to open up was very difficult. It took time for her to get comfortable.  Eventually, she allowed us to read the letters Randy sent her while he was away, and she let us use many of her photos. Lori also let us use her photos.  Once Randy's friends saw that Lori and Jodi were letting us use all their stuff, they followed suit. Anyone who was in Randy's circle knows that Lori and Jodi keep his best interests at heart.  They are the ones who Randy was closest to.  When Randy was getting ready to leave for England in 1979, he told Lori that he wanted her to be the one to write the story about his life.  The fact that she helped me create this book makes me feel good. 

One of my favorite photos in the book wasn't even taken by a photographer. John Stix was also a major contributor.  He conducted an extensive interview with Randy in August, 1981. The interview lasted about an hour.  John was kind enough to let me incorporate Randy's own words into the story.  After the interview was over, John snapped one photo of Randy. All three of his guitars were up on a countertop and Randy was wearing a purple shirt.  His elbow on the counter, looking ever so proud and confident.  John really captured a great Randy moment in that photo, which incidentally accompanies my Prologue to the book.  The balance of Randy's words in the book were taken from either Peter's lesson tapes or from one or more letters sent to Lori and Jodi while Randy was out on the road.

 

5: Did the Rhoads/Osbourne family or third party help out?

There were some members of the band and road crew who were very helpful. David Arden, who is Sharon's brother, is also a close friend of mine. He granted me an interview as well. David was Ozzy's manager until August, 1980.  It was David who agreed to fly Randy to England from Burbank so that he could play with Ozzy.  Sharon took over the management when David was forced to resign upon the birth of his daughter.  His daughter had been born pre-maturely and David felt his time was best spent at home with his growing family.  David and Sharon's father, Don Arden, owned Jet Records which initially released Ozzy's first two solo albums with Randy.  Their family managed an empire of successful artists besides Ozzy. They didn't really believe in letting outsiders handle their business or artists.  They liked to keep it all in the family which is why Sharon stepped in for David.

 

6:Were you able to tap in with any of the guys from Quiet Riot to help out?

Rudy Sarzo and Drew Forsyth are close friends of ours. They were extremely helpful and supportive. Ron Sobol was like a brother to Kevin DuBrow.  Ron and I are good friends, and his support was the closest I could get to having Kevin on board. Thanks to the three of them and many others, I feel that the Quiet Riot portion of the book is well represented.

 

7: While putting the book together was there one moment that stood out for you as memorable?

What's most memorable for me are the relationships that have developed as a result of working on the book.

Working with our Graphic Designer, Denny Anderson was quite an experience that will stay with me always. We had our routine.  Both of us hold day jobs.  I would finally get home at 6:00 from a long day at work.  I'd spend 30 minutes with my wife and kids before having to get back in the car and head for Denny's studio.  We sat there together night after night eating fast food for dinner and working until 1:00 A.M.  This went on for several years with Christmas really being the only time we took a break.  Every page that we created together is special to me.  Many of them took several hours or even days to perfect.  Just when we thought we nailed it, we'd scrap it and start over just to see if we could do something better.  That freedom of expression was liberating.  Couple that with Randy being our subject matter, and we couldn't have wished for a passion project more exciting.  I would say to Denny, "Can we do this, or make this color like this, etc.?" and he would look at me and say, "There are no rules.  We can try whatever you want."


Seeing the pages come alive was the greatest feeling. At the end of the sessions, we'd email our work to Peter thinking he would be blown away.  On the contrary, Peter would respond with, "Change the color of this page, make that photo smaller, take this quote and move it 3 pages forward, take the photo that's here and move it there."  At the time, we hated him for it, because his edits would create several more days of work and set us back.  There were times it felt like it would never end. Looking back, Peter was right about every edit he demanded.  His contributions elevated the book to another level; his level. In order for Peter to approve of this book, we had to meet a bar that raised incredibly high.  I think we did that, and through this process, the three of us became the best of friends.  I feel like we've been to war together.  

 

8: What do fans expect when they open this book for the first time?

Fans want something Randy Rhoads related that they've never seen.  Something new or rare. When we first began promoting the book, I was reading the online chatter and all the fans were saying, "The book won't have anything we haven't seen." First and foremost, that's what lies at the heart of their judgment of the book.  I've included a lot of familiar photos of Randy that we've all seen a million times. I included them because they are awesome shots. I didn't take those things into consideration when I laid it out.  I wanted to create something that would be one body of work that honors Randy's life and achievements. I wanted people to know who he was, rather than write about how great of a guitar player he was. I chose the photos that made the most sense.  The photos have to correlate with its surrounding text. There's a lot of photos that never made it into the book.  We've accumulated over 10,000 images that take up more than 50 gigs of space on our drives.  Only a fraction of them are in the book. All things considered, the book does also include many rare photos that no one has ever seen before.

 

9: Can you tell me about the working relationship with Velocity Publishing?

We approached everyone to help us launch this book. We visited with the biggest names in publishing. They all had their own opinions.  Surely, with all their success, they know what they’re talking about and they know what they’re doing.  I was just a Randy Rhoads fan with an idea. I don't know much about the publishing industry, or how it works, or what it takes for something to be successful. However, I didn't agree with their ideas.  One company wanted us to split it up into two books.  They felt that we had too much material for one book and the $99 MSRP was too steep for the average consumer.  I wanted to create one book.  Nothing was going to change my mind.  The $99 price tag is a lot to ask.  But I've said many times that in order to deliver a book like this, it would cost a lot of money to produce.  I'm okay with that because earning a profit was never my goal.   Velocity Publishing Group was the only company that shared our vision and was the only one willing to let us do what we wanted to do.  Aspiring writers should check out their web site (http://velocitybooks.org).  Their mission is to help writers publish their original work.  

 

10: There have been other books on the late great Randy Rhoads. What do you think makes this book a book fans should purchase and own?

I've read all of those books and they are pretty good.  Like ours, most of them were created from the heart and with love.  However, I don't think any of them nailed what the fans were looking for.  Most of the previous books were paperback oriented and included a limited number of photos. Randy's fans want photos!  They want big color photos, preferably ones they hadn't seen before.  Randy was incredibly charismatic. We love to stare at him as much as we love to listen to him play his guitar.  

If the fans want to learn about who Randy was, they should read our book. His closest friends have shared their memories with us.  Some of them have told me that they will never speak publicly about Randy ever again.  I feel that our book will be the definitive guide to Randy Rhoads for future generations.  If someone decides to write another book about Randy someday, surely, our book will be used as a primary source of information.  That makes me very proud.  That's what I hoped to achieve. I want to leave this book behind so that everyone will remember who Randy Rhoads was and why he was special.

 

11: Randy was taken from us way too early and many people have been influenced by him in some way. Can you tell me how has he influenced you in your life?

There's not enough time in a day for me to answer this question. When I was 14 years old, I didn't want to be like Randy. I wanted to be Randy. I know I'm not the only fan who felt this way. If there's a common thread that bonds Randy's fans, it's how much we were inspired by him. Again, it wasn't just his guitar playing.  That was only one part of it.  What was special about him transcended into his playing. We love his playing because we love him.  He won the best new talent award and instead of celebrating and feeling great about himself, it made him want to work harder.  We can apply his approach to our own lives.  Whatever Randy Rhoads fans do in their daily lives is affected by this influence.  We work harder, we strive to succeed and be great at what we do because that's what he did.  It's very difficult to think of another musician who has influenced as many people in a similar way. Yes, we all love Randy's guitar playing. He was phenomenal. At his core, he was a teacher. We have all learned so much from him. He's been gone more than 30 years and he left us with a very small collection of songs and virtually no video. Yet, his presence is massive and he's all around us and we still love him and his music, and we still love to look at his pictures and read about him. That's inspiring.

 

12: If Randy were alive today what do you think he would say about this book?

I've asked Randy's friends this question over and over. They all say the same thing; that Randy would be incredibly embarrassed by it, and he would never believe that someone would create something like this just for him.  He knew how good of a guitar player he was, but he didn't know he was famous. I don't think he realized how many people's lives he was touching each and every night. That's his humble nature. He just wanted to play his guitar.  He was very secure in his decision to quit Ozzy's band. He was prepared to walk away and he never would have looked back or second guessed himself. It's anyone's guess what he would have done next.  Rejoin Quiet Riot?  Record classical music?  Go to UCLA and get a degree?  Marry Jodi and live a quiet life in Malibu?  He didn't know either.  His head was spinning. He wanted to do all of it. He had all the options in the world in the palm of his hand. It's incredibly sad to me that he was taken from us at a moment of his life that was filled with such promise and optimism. We'll never know what would have happened next.  I hope that wherever he is, he's watching over his loved ones and also feeling proud of this book that was created for him.  All of that inspiration he provided us was channeled back into the book.  I am a huge fan of Randy's and I basically created the book I've always dreamed of having. KISS released a book called KISSTORY. I was inspired by that book. When I purchased it for $150, I opened the front cover and the first thing I thought was, "I wish I could have a book like this about Randy Rhoads." I'm glad there's finally one for all of us to enjoy.

Andrew Klein and Denny Anderson

Steven Rosen and Andrew Klein

Randy Rhoads 1981, Photo by John Stix