by Jeff Giles
Randy Rhoads was a phenomenal musician whose skill reduced many budding guitarists to tears of frustration, but even he could be intimidated on occasion. According to Rhoads biographer Andrew Klein, one of those occasions included the first time he watched Eddie Van Halen perform.
Klein, who’s one of the co-authors of the legally contested coffee-table book ‘Randy Rhoads,’ is quoted a number of times in a recent Van Halen News Desk piece that compiles selected memories of the Ozzy Osbourne guitarist from a feature that originally ran at the Selvedge Yard. According to Klein, Rhoads’ girlfriend Jan was with him the first time he went to a Van Halen show, which left him “devastated.”
The story goes on to illustrate the rivalry that grew between Rhoads and Van Halen, recounting a time when Rhoads reportedly asked Van Halen how he managed to keep his guitar from slipping out of tune without using a locking nut for his tremolo. “Eddie refused to tell him and said it was his own secret,” alleged Klein. “Randy couldn’t comprehend because he was a teacher at his core. He loved to help others and he was always willing to share anything he knew. He would teach anyone anything they wanted to learn. So, he was quite disappointed in Eddie’s treatment of him.”
And although Klein’s sources paint a picture of an occasionally testy relationship — including one incident that ended with a friend of Rhoads allegedly slapping David Lee Roth — the overall impression is one of mutual admiration between two major talents. “Quiet Riot’s drummer, Drew Forsyth, has said that the Eddie/Randy rivalry has been made up to be so much more than it was,” added Klein. “He also said that Eddie used to come watch Randy play way more than Randy used to go see Eddie play. They were both great, and I’m sure there was an immense amount of mutual respect.”