“I always feel like I haven’t told them enough,” says bassist and author Rudy Sarzo. With a touring career that spans over 25 years, the death of his Ozzy Osbourne bandmate, Randy Rhoads, has haunted him. Speaking about the countless number of times he has been approached by fans about his experience with Rhoads, Sarzo hopes his book, Off The Rails: Aboard The Crazy Train In The Blizzard Of Ozz
can tell the whole story. “Every time a fan comes up to me, I know exactly what they’re going to ask, which is, ‘What was it like to play with Randy Rhoads?’”
“I wanted to share everything from my experience with Randy Rhoads and playing with Ozzy Osbourne during the Blizzard Of Ozz and Diary Of A Madman tours,” says Sarzo. His book is a chronicle of the events leading to the death of Rhoads and the aftermath. Sarzo describes, “I wanted to take the reader by the hand and have him walk right next to me through that period. It’s pretty much a time capsule of what things were like back in 1981 and 1982.” The focus of the book is his relationship with Randy Rhoads and the reverberation of this relationship long after his passing. Much has already been written about the airplane crash that took Rhoads’ life but Sarzo wants to dispel all the conjecture surrounding the incident. “There has been so much misinformation, regarding the crash... but in my opinion it was really no accident. Once you read the book, you’ll know what I’m talking about.”
Cuban-born Rudy Sarzo was a bass player in the L.A. music scene who was recruited by guitarist Randy Rhoads to join the locally successful band, Quiet Riot. Together, they played shows throughout the L.A. area before disbanding due to Rhoads’ induction to a new band being formed by former Black Sabbath singer, Ozzy Osbourne, in 1980. Sarzo was once again recruited by Rhoads once the touring faction of Osbourne’s band was to hit stateside. Together, they toured the U.S. and Canada relentlessly from 1981-82 before Rhoads’ sudden death in a plane crash in March of 1982.
Touring for a working band wasn’t like what it is today. As Sarzo recounts, “We’re talking about pre-MTV, pre-internet, no laptops or cellphones… none of the technology that’s pretty much common nowadays.” These are all the implements that lead to a band that doesn’t socialize amongst themselves. “There was a lot of hanging out that doesn’t really happen much anymore. We got to be a close, tight little family traveling around the world.”
On March 19, 1982, Randy Rhoads was killed in a plane crash that has been surrounded by much speculation and controversy. Rudy Sarzo has felt the effects of his grief over the past two and a half decades. Finding solace in writing this memoir as a tribute to his fallen friend, Rudy has achieved a sense of redemption. The writing of this book occurred during his tours with Dio and Yngwie Malmsteen from 2001- 06. The past 25 years since the crash has been laden with a guilt only Sarzo can describe: “You walk away with some kind of guilt, that it wasn’t you who died.”
What was especially difficult was writing about the crash, because until that point in the reading, Randy lived again. “While I was writing the book, it was like not only being there, but also having Randy right there with me. The hardest thing about it was as I approached chapter 19, which deals with the crash, was that I knew chapter 18 was the last time I was really going to have him alive in my mind… in my head, reliving it. I procrastinated with that chapter. It took me about a month to write it because I just didn’t want to end it,” says Sarzo.
“The biggest rewards I received by writing the book have been rediscovering myself and getting closure with what happened. It’s not as much that I’m at peace with it as it’s more like I have closure. It’s like I was able to, one page at a time, do something for a friend of mine who gave me the chance to have a career by telling Ozzy about me.” That career blossomed into a 25-year career as a successful touring musician for Rudy Sarzo.
Off The Rails: Aboard The Crazy Train In The Blizzard Of Ozz
is currently available for purchase at RudySarzo.com and will be available at bookstores worldwide on September 4, 2008. It includes neverbefore- seen photographs from Sarzo’s personal collection as well as from famed rock photographer, Ross Halfin.