Lick Lessons with George lynch
MR. SCARY’S TALE OF SUBBING FOR RANDY RHOADS AT MUSONIA
WHEN IT COMES to shredders who emerged on L.A.’s Sunset Strip in the Eighties, few are more respected or revered than George “Mr. Scary” Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame. As it turns out, one of George’s fans was none other than the late great, Randy Rhoads. And, as a result, when Randy landed the coveted Ozzy Osbourne gig in late 1979, his first choice for filling in his busy teaching position at his mother’s music school, Musonia, was George.
“Randy used to bring his mom, Delores, down to see me play shows in L.A. and told her some very nice things about my playing,” Lynch says. “I was very flattered by that.”
Ironically, George was also one of the front-runners for Ozzy’s guitarist gig. “It was one of those classic good news, bad news stories,” Lynch says with a laugh. “The bad news is Randy got the Ozzy gig. You didn’t. The good news is, you’re going to sub for him at Musonia!
“It was an honor to take his teaching spot, and I worked really hard to make sure I was up to the challenge, because I didn’t want to disappoint anybody. I knew I had an uphill battle because I’m not a schooled player like Randy was. I didn’t know anything about music theory, could barely read notation and didn’t know scales or modes. So I had to develop a language with my students so we could communicate, which was quite a challenge. It wasn’t just showing them a lick or run; I had to explain how I looked at the fretboard and came up with things.
“It was definitely a wonderful experience, especially for selfish reasons. Because I was in the saddle for many hours a day, I’d be practicing and forcing myself to learn new stuff so I’d have things to teach people. As a result, I became a much better player — I don’t know about my students, but hopefully they did too! What was funny — and I’ve told this story before, actually — is that a lot of his students were attractive girls who were there just to look at Randy because he was a handsome guy, I guess. They’d show up for their first lesson with me, look really disappointed and then I’d never see them again! My best student was Brent Woods. He worked really hard and he now plays with Sebastian Bach. I’m very proud of that.
“I didn’t last very long, though — maybe six months,” Lynch says. “I was making good money building guitars on the side. I’d slap together necks, bodies and parts and then I’d sell them to my students for, like, 350 or 400 bucks. They’d get these Charvel bodies and Mighty Mite necks with cool pickups; it was a pretty good deal. Delores got hip to the fact I was doing this, though, and I guess she didn’t like it! [Laughs]
One particular day I had two students in my teaching room and instead of doing lessons, I was selling them guitars. She got wind of it and literally kicked the door open when the money and guitars were changing hands. She was not happy because I was doing nonteaching business on her premises! Delores made a new rule, and I wasn’t allowed to keep the door closed after that — I had to keep it open.”
Despite that little hiccup and his moving on, Mrs. Rhoads still held Lynch in high regard. “Delores did something really nice for me in the early 2000s,” Lynch says. “She gifted me one of Randy’s classical acoustic guitars when I visited her at Musonia. I went there to do an interview in the room I used to give lessons in, which was Randy’s old teaching room. His little Fender combo amp I used to play through was still there, and I offered to buy it and the MXR Distortion+ pedal because they sounded great together. I would have put them to good use, but understandably Delores didn’t want to let them go.” — Nick Bowcott
ing behavior off-stage as for his voice onstage. Most importantly, he raised the level of guitar playing in hard rock to a new standard. He was one of those rare artists who helped turn the page to the next chapter. With very few exceptions — EVH most notably — he was someone who represented where rock guitar had been, where it was at the moment and where it was headed. And he did so without any gimmicks, bells or whistles, just pure artistry.
The music Randy made with Ozzy on the two studio albums, as well as Tribute and any other live recordings, changed the game completely. Even though he was just hitting his stride, the few recordings that exist were enough to make him one the giants of electric guitar, then and now. He managed to find his own modern tone and two-handed techniques, building off what EVH had popularized, but without sounding like an imitator. He did this while presenting a deep knowledge of classical guitar and composition that was extremely rare in rock. Had he continued and pursued his studies, one can only imagine the heights he might have reached. While he may not have been the first to merge hard rock and classical ideas, Randy was able to capture the baroque moods of centuries past with a searing tone that sounded straight from the future. In other words, Randy Rhoads was timeless.
COURTNEY COX (The Iron Maidens): The music business is probably one of the most stressful, soul-crushing, anxiety-filled careers one can go into, but you have people like Randy who entirely enjoyed his craft and lived it. The one solid thing about music is that it doesn’t lie. With my current time on this earth, only certain players stick out because of the passion that bleeds from them. Anyone can play guitar or any instrument, but it takes a certain soul to live it as Randy did in his years, and still does in those songs. He may be gone physically, but he lives on every time you put those albums on. He is with us always.
PHIL DEMMEL (Vio-lence): It’s a multitude of things. My first concert ever was the 1981 “Day on the Green” show in Oakland. Ozzy came on at 10 a.m., and Randy played with such conviction that you believed and felt every note he played. There are very few artists who can convey that to me, especially at the impressionable age of 14. He was super concise, and you felt these genuine emotions coming from him. That’s what I wanted to do — to have that conviction. Honesty is a big deal with me, so being able to feel that from him was really special.
Plus, this dude was hunting down teach
The bad news is Randy got the Ozzy gig. you didn’t. The good news is you’re going to sub for Musonia!” him at george lynch
ers on his days off, because he wanted to go learn! He was always looking to be better; he had this drive — and people are drawn to that kind of dedication because they want it too. I think all of this, along with the dramatically tragic way in which he left us so young, melds into his deserved, legendary, timeless status. And it’s not a myth. It’s real — it happened.
JARED JAMES NICHOLS: The humanity in his playing is inspiring on so many levels. Tone, touch, precision — Randy had it all. When I hear him play, I hear his personality, I hear excitement. You can tell he is fully into it. Not only did he have monster chops and endless songwriting talent; he made you feel happy when he played. Every solo is like a rollercoaster.
Players of all skills and styles can draw from Randy’s musicality and find inspiration. Whether you’re just starting out and want to learn riffs or you’re trying to break out of a rut using some of his improvisation techniques; or are looking to incorporate different genres into your style; Randy and his playing are timeless.
RUDY SARZO: The purity of his playing and compositions. And, of course, Randy’s passion and creativity. For those reasons, people will still be talking about him 100 years from now. He is a life-changing experience. I always find something new and interesting every time I listen to those Ozzy records, even now. As a matter of fact, I’ve been listening to Tribute a lot lately, and I’m like, “Wow!” He played with so much fire, finesse and articulation. There’s no bum notes, no mistakes. And that was just another night of Randy playing live with Ozzy. The only difference was, every night he was better than the night before. That said, the consistency of the quality of his playing remained the same from night to night.
DAVE MUSTAINE (Megadeth): You are either a follower or you are not. Randy was not. He was an innovator, a creator, and [the] Blizzard of Ozz band was not another cheap knock-off of a popular band. They were destined to be the biggest band in the world. It seemed like nothing was going to stop them. That was until the fateful date when tragedy struck.
MARK MORTON (Lamb of God): When Randy passed at 25 years old, he was just getting started. He was cut short. Yet in that short time he very much defined what the modern heavy metal guitar player’s role would be — as a songwriter, a solo
The blizzard of ozz band... was destined to be the biggest band in the world. it seemed like nothing was going to stop them” dave mustaine
ist, the importance of the riff, his presence on stage, the angular guitars, his cool look. All that stuff had a lasting impact, and it’s been captured in time forever. And then, we could just talk about “Crazy Train”! We’ve all heard it a million times, and that riff is probably one of the first that comes to mind when you think of a metal riff. It has the same relevance as “Smoke on the Water” — it’s the metal riff. The legacy of that alone is eternal, and he was very young when he wrote it. That’s why I think he’s still so relevant and still so captivating, both as a player and as a person.
GEORGE LYNCH: Putting Randy with Ozzy allowed him to live up to his full potential, which was incredibly deep. Also, a lot of what Randy did was classically based, and classical music is timeless; it’s eons old — it’s not a fad! Those changes, those scales and everything else he used so well are just wonderful ways of translating human emotions that work over time, irrespective of the particular culture or particular era. It’s this transcendent way of communicating — and, just like the blues, none of those things are going away. Now Eighties music, on the other hand… [Laughs]
DOUG ALDRICH (The Dead Daisies): It’s because nobody plays like Randy. He was very unique in the way he played and composed. The two albums with Ozzy are masterpieces, and he made the most of every moment on both. There are many great players who were influenced by him, but there’s only one Randy — that’s it, man. People are going to continue to be inspired by him in the same way they’re inspired by Hendrix and all the other greats who’ve passed on. We’ve all missed out on 40 years of whatever Randy would have created, and you can’t help but wonder what he would have done as he was still rising. But, as we can’t get any more music from Randy, let’s really dig deep and figure out how he did what he did, and why it is so great.
JOHN 5 (Rob Zombie, John 5 and the
Creatures): People will still be talking about Randy Rhoads on the 100th anniversary of his passing. That’s just how it is; it’s never going to go away because it’s incredibly rare to have someone who is so very, very special — like a Jimi Hendrix, an Eddie Van Halen… or a Randy Rhoads. They have an energy people gravitate toward. You can count rare talents like Randy on one hand, and what makes them so special is almost impossible to describe. It’s like trying to describe a color. You can’t really do it. And that’s what we’re trying to do here!