Randy Rhoads: Reflections of a Guitar Icon is a look back at the career of the legendary musician who died forty years ago in 1982. Despite only being twenty-five years old at the time his playing had already left its mark on hard rock and heavy metal, something it still continues to do today.
Starting with his childhood studying at his mother’s music school director Andre Relis (NWA & Eazy-E: Kings of Compton), writer Michael Bruining and narrator Tracii Guns of L.A. Guns quickly jump ahead to his recruiting Kevin DuBrow and forming the original version of Quiet Riot. There’s plenty of home video footage of the band as well as talking-head interviews with his mother Delores and his brother Kelle who remembers taking Randy to see Alice Cooper, an event that had a profound influence on the young man.
There’s also some archival audio of Randy himself talking about how he got started playing guitar. And archival footage actually plays a rather large part in Randy Rhoads: Reflections of a Guitar Icon as so many of the musicians in it, like Randy, are no longer with us. It’s both sad to realize how many of these great musicians are gone and creepy how much of the film is related by dead people.
As anyone familiar with Randy Rhoads’ career knows he played with Quiet Riot up until he became Ozzy’s guitarist. That means that the film is almost as much a documentary about their early days as it is about Randy himself. There’s input from everyone from members from that era, the group’s photographer, and even Kevin’s mother.
This gives the film a kind of fractured feel because the band wouldn’t be signed and achieve fame until after he left. It feels incomplete in a way. Because while the film is titled Randy Rhoads: Reflections of a Guitar Icon, so much of it is also The Quiet Riot Story leaving their story unfinished feels like leaving a loose thread in a narrative film’s plotline. Concentrating more on Randy himself, his guitars, his playing techniques and the people and influences around him would have helped avoid this. About the closest it gets to this is input from Randy’s girlfriend, who also happened to be DuBrow’s ex.
At around the hour mark, Randy Rhoads: Reflections of a Guitar Icon shifts focus to Dana Strum, best known for playing in Slaughter, convincing Randy to audition for Ozzy whom he was working with at the time. This would be what made him a legend and the part of his career everyone knows about. Much of it felt like a rehash, but then again I remember much of it from when it was happening. Younger fans or those just discovering metal may find it more informative.
Fans of Randy Rhoads will probably want to give Randy Rhoads: Reflections of a Guitar Icon a watch, especially if they haven’t read or seen much about his years with Quiet Riot. Conversely, metal fans who only know the band by way of Metal Health and their Slade covers Cum On Feel the Noize and Mama Weer All Crazee Now will probably learn quite a bit.
Unfortunately, the lack of any major new information about the man or his music limits the appeal of Randy Rhoads: Reflections of a Guitar Icon and means his hardcore fans, the most likely audience for it, are the least likely to get anything out of it. And not even input from the likes of Gary Moore, Eddie Van Halen, George Lynch or even Ozzy himself can change that.
Randy Rhoads: Reflections of a Guitar Icon makes its debut on VOD and Digital platforms on May 6th via VMI Worldwide. For a guitar-oriented night you could even pair it with The Ventures: Stars on Guitars or let FilmTagger make some suggestions.