I have had such wonderful joy watching the new documentary Randy Rhoads: Reflections of a Guitar Icon.
In my youth, the music of Randy Rhoads was extremely inspiring to me. From the age of 11, I would study his style for hours and hours, trying to slow down records or cassette tapes to figure out the nuances of his playing, taking the songs to my guitar teacher begging him to explain how the sounds was created.
To my amazement on my 14th birthday, my father gifted me with a Custom Les Paul which was exactly the one Randy played.
“Don’t tell your mother how much this costs,” he told me.
Thousands of hours were spent playing this Les Paul, alone in my room and on stage at bars throughout my college years, always searching for the mythic sound that Randy achieved.
I remember one night while listening to the local radio station, the song “Flying High Again” was played five times in a row. This was odd.
The radio DJ (there were still live radio Dj’s in 1982) announced live on the air the tragic death of Randy Rhoads. I practiced all night that night, I told my parents what happened and they did not ask me to stop because of school the next day.
Years later I wrote a guitar player that was teaching at Musonia, the music school of Delores Rhoads where Randy taught.
“I would love to talk to Randy’s mom and tell her how much he meant to me.” I said in my letter. The guitar teacher was so nice and wrote back with the phone number for the school and wrote “give her a call, she would love to hear from you.”
I must have been maybe 18 when I built up the nerve to call her. I dialed and asked to speak to Delores Rhoads and was told to hold on for a bit. Delores picked up the phone after a couple of minutes and I told her how much Randy meant to me, how sad I was about his death, and how I hope his legacy lives on. She was so delighted!
“You made my day, I always love hearing from Randy’s fans. He touched so many people.”
She asked me how long I had been playing, about my life, and told me “please don’t stop playing, Randy would always want you to keep playing.”
Over the years I eventually channeled all my love for guitar into my studies of medicine, Kung Fu, and writing. This was my Prarabdha Karma. But I always cherish my memories of speaking with his mother and how grateful she was for my call.
These memories seem like yesterday to me.
This is why I often speak of my concept of “Gnostic Nostalgia.” Our past holds so many Rasas or flavors which we can extract and use as alchemical medicine to grow spiritually.
A guitar can act as a literal time machine, as can writing. We can open a book or a journal and travel into the past or into the future. We experience linear time as a constant we cannot escape but this is an illusion, Maya.
Our past holds alchemical gold, if we know how to extract it.
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Rhoads played his riffs/solos with an unparalleled emotion and finesse. And his signature guitar tone… so damn good! Thanks for sharing this little glimpse into your past.