There are certain artists that you know didn’t last as long as they should have. Randy Rhoads was one of those special people. His talents brought up Quiet Riot and Ozzy Osbourne‘s solo career. Without Rhoads, we might have a very different landscape of the hard rock and heavy metal scene. The new documentary Randy Rhoads: Reflections of a Guitar Icon is directed by Andre Relis, written by Michael Bruining, and narrated by Tracii Guns. It features interviews with family members, bandmates, friends, contemporaries, and historians about the legendary guitarist.
Reflections of a Guitar Icon is pretty standard in the delivery of the material. If you’ve seen one rock doc, you’ve seen this one. However, that structure isn’t the documentary’s strength; it’s the love and care of Randy Rhoads. There isn’t a moment in this documentary that isn’t paying tribute to the man and his guitar playing. Through surprisingly clear live recordings of early Quiet Riot shows and his time in Ozzy’s solo band, if you weren’t blown away by Rhoads’ playing before, you will be.
The best interviews in Reflections of a Guitar Icon come from the Quiet Riot members like Rudy Sarzo, Kevin DuBrow, Drew Forsyth, and Frankie Banali. The documentary is as much a history of Quiet Riot as it is about Randy. Rhoads was in Quiet Riot for most of his professional life from 1973-1979, so naturally, a large portion of the documentary would focus on them. It starts from their beginnings as Mach 1 to Little Women and finally settling on Quiet Riot.
A Talent Taken Away Far Too Soon
It was surprising that no one had any ill feelings towards Randy Rhoades from the Quiet Riot side or in general throughout the documentary. It makes sense, though, that the man was a legend, and through all that, he was a great human being. The guy didn’t do anything that would warrant a bad reputation. He was a consummate professional, and besides not letting his bandmates know in person that he was leaving to go to Ozzy Osbourne’s solo band, the documentary is a flawless look at Rhoads and his legacy. The time before his stardom might be the most exciting and fun of the entire doc. The early Quiet Riot stage footage was a real treat to see.
This period of his career is often glossed over when talking about Randy. His time with Ozzy Osbourne is so influential and gargantuan to the trajectory of heavy metal that it’s often lost that he was also in a hugely influential band before. Quiet Riot went on to a platinum record with Metal Health in 1983. That’s usually where people start talking about them, but they cut their teeth on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, California, and had two albums that were only released in Japan first. It was refreshing to also get more into Randy’s relationships, not just the music he made.
Overall, Randy Rhoads: Reflections of a Guitar Icon is a fantastic look into the life and career of one of the most influential guitarists ever. It doesn’t revolutionize the rock doc from a structure standpoint, but it shines above many other documentaries through excellent interviews and archive footage.
Check out the documentary on-demand or on iTunes, Amazon, or wherever else you watch on-demand content.
For more on music, make sure to check back to That Hashtag Show.