Guitarist Tom Morello and System of a Down singer Serj Tankian have joined forces to pay tribute to late Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Randy Rhoads, who helped usher classicism into heavy metal before his accidental death in 1982, with a reverent cover of “Crazy Train.” The track will appear on an upcoming compilation, Immortal Randy Rhoads: The Ultimate Tribute, and the recording also features bassist Rudy Sarzo – who played with Rhoads in Ozzy’s band and Quiet Riot – and onetime Black Sabbath drummer Vinny Appice.
The tribute was especially important to Morello, who plays a dizzying Rage-like solo on the track. “Randy Rhoads is my favorite guitar player of all time,” he tells Rolling Stone. “It was his poster on my wall when I was practicing eight hours a day, and I named my firstborn son, Rhoads, after him. Serj, Rudy, Vinny and I rocked ‘Crazy Train’ as a sonic tribute to one of rock’s greatest fallen heroes. Crank it.”
Rhoads grew up in Los Angeles and co-founded Quiet Riot in 1975, while still in his teens. Although he recorded two Japan-only albums with the group, he quit to join Osbourne’s first solo band in 1979. On the albums Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman, he helped expand both the vocabulary of metal and guitar playing by emphasizing classical discipline, harmony and song-craft, contributing to tracks like “Crazy Train,” “Over the Mountain” and “Mr. Crowley.” He died tragically on March 19th, 1982, when a small plane piloted by bus driver Andrew Aycock (who posthumously tested positively for cocaine use) crashed into a mansion. The accident also killed the group’s makeup artist, Rachel Youngblood.
The rest of the tribute compilation includes renditions of Ozzy Osbourne and Rhoads-era Quiet Riot songs performed by unique mini-supergroups. Participating musicians include current Ozzy guitarist Gus G., Rhoads’ brother Kelle, Dweezil Zappa, Testament’s Chuck Billy, former Dokken guitarist George Lynch, Children of Bodom’s Alexi Laiho, Night Ranger guitarist Brad Gillis, former Kiss guitarist Bruce Kulick, former Judas Priest singer Tim “Ripper” Owens, Quiet Riot drummer Frankie Banali and others.
Kulick’s brother Bob produced the compilation. The digipack edition of the release will feature a DVD containing interviews with Bob and some of the artists involved, as well as a feature on the North Hollywood music school that Rhoads’ mother and Kelle set up iin the fallen guitarist’s name.
Immortal Randy Rhoads: The Ultimate Tribute will come out on March 3rd, via UDR Music.