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Tom Morello Calls Randy Rhoads the ‘Greatest Hard Rock Guitarist’

Ethan Miller, Getty Images / Paul Natkin, Getty Images

Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Randy Rhoads influenced many axe-men before his tragic death 30 years ago — one of them being Rage Against the Machine‘s Tom Morello. The mad-scientist of hard rock guitar explains how Rhoads gave him the courage to find his own unique sound.

During the brief five-year period that Randy Rhoads’ guitar playing was committed to record, the Quiet Riot and Ozzy Osbourne guitarist created a body of work that is still celebrated and studied by guitarists ranging in skill from novice to virtuoso. Perhaps no one celebrates his legendary work more than Morello, who even named his first son Rhoads in honor of the late musician.

“This song called ‘Crazy Train’ by Ozzy Osbourne came on,” Morello tells Music Radar of his first encounter with Rhoads music. “This blistering riff came at me, followed by an incredible solo, and by the end of it, I was like, ‘What just happened?’” Morello had already began playing guitar at the time, but says Rhoads inspired his work ethic when it came to practicing his craft. “When I was practicing eight hours a day, his was the poster I had on my wall.”

Although this month marks 30 years since Rhoads’ untimely death, Morello still remembers the effect it had on him. “I do remember being absolutely torn apart. It was so tragic. In a way, Randy Rhoads is the Robert Johnson of metal. It’s such a small catalog of stuff that has been so incredibly influential,” recalls Morello. “He wasn’t even at the height of his fame, he was still on the way up. So you’re left with the question: Had he lived, what more would he have done?”

Years after Rhoads’ passing, Morello discovered the true brilliance of his sound by trying to emulate it. “What’s interesting is, when I stopped trying to sound like Randy Rhoads and realized that what I loved about him was that he had a sound that was completely unique and was a representation of him as an artist,” says Morello. “That’s what inspired me to find my own unique voice as an artist. So I attribute it all to him.”

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