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Randy Rhoads



The Diary of a Madman show from Detroit in 1982 (as seen through the eyes of a 17 year old)

Although the Blizzard tour came to Detroit I was unable to see it. Believe it or not my first passion and talent in life was hockey. I played it a lot and was a pretty serious athlete, training, playing AAA and whatnot. So it wasn't like I had a lot of free time as the game was my priority. I loved it and you couldn't keep me off the ice. Anyway I was fortunate enough to see Randy on the Diary of a Madman tour in February of 1982 at Detroit's Cobo arena. There was much talk of the tour and show at school the days prior to the show. I was 17 and a senior in high school at the time. There were so many rumors that Ozzy was going to blow up a goat, behead live chickens and stuff that the animal rights activists were going to have the city cancel the show or something to that effect. It was pretty weird indeed and my friends and I were so looking forward to going and hoping that the show wouldn't get cancelled. I really don't remember how or where we got the tickets . It wasn't uncommon for my friends and I to wait outside early in the morning for ticket booth at Hudson's department store in a mall (of all places) in Taylor, Michigan to open up so we could score good seats to whatever concert we wanted to see, and we saw a lot of them.

On to Cobo Arena

We all piled into a car,  stopped and picked up some beer and party goods then proceeded to drive to downtown Detroit, early as I recall, we  were in the parking lot a good couple hours before the show. Please remember that was over 22 years ago for me so some of non-essential details are not remembered too clearly. We were just having a good time drinking a few cold ones "getting warmed-up"  in the parking lot of Cobo because we couldn't buy beer in the arena, we were all high schoolers and under the age 21 :) We listened to cassettes of the two albums and took breaks listening to the radio to see if the goat police would shut the show down or not. We wondered if they would play any Black Sabbath songs as we were all Sabbath fans as well. The rumor around the outside of the arena was that they were but we honestly didn't know what to believe, we were getting baked and it was almost a kind of a freak show, there was a lot of bullshit going on but not too bad. There always the usual weirdness at concerts we attend in the city but for some reason this one seemed to have a little bit more of a strange feel to it.  In all actually we were comfortable in that environment, some more than others but we had no fear as long as no one messed with us we were cool. It was a cold night but you know how it is in winter places, always end up standing outside around the car drinking beer, doors opened and Ozzy blaring on the car stereo, only starting up the car occasionally to keep the battery from draining.

Into the Arena

We had main floor tickets and this show had assigned seating. We knew that people would probably be in our seats when we did get in but we had no problem showing our ticket stubs to whoever was in them and kindly persuading them to look for other seats to steal.  We really were in no hurry to get inside to see the opening act, we were there to see Ozzy Osbourne w/ Randy Rhoads. To this day  I still don't know or remember who the opener was but I do know that it didn't matter if we weren't inside to see it.  We were experienced concert goers and we knew that a sold out show could potentially be a pain in the ass on the main floor. We knew that it takes time to get whoever the band opening up off the stage and the headliner stage to be prepped and finished up. Drinking beer and waiting in lines to use the restroom is no fun, was so much easier to use the wall or whatever trees we could find outside whenever you felt like it :)  We made sure we had our tickets and headed for the doors. We went though the usual security points, if that's what you call it. They wouldn't frisk anyone, they just look for obvious things like people trying to carry a 5th of Jack Daniels in their crotches, bags of weed hanging out the pockets etc. I tell you those security guys have a knack for spotting people trying to conceal stuff.  They had these big barrels just as you walk in that was full of stuff they confiscated, whiskey bottles, bags of pot, a few pocket knifes etc. This was 1982 so if they did find something on you they just took it, threw it in the barrel and let you in, not arrest you for terrorism or anything. The security people were usually cool as I remember correctly, they would only kick people out of they were fighting or falling down drunk. I saw them reach into a guys inner vest  pocket and pull what looked to a couple ounce bag of weed, and throw it in the barrel that was already full, I remember the security guy telling him "If you touch it, you're going home" as the guy looked at it sitting there. My buddies asked him how he knew the guy had that and he said  something to the effect "that its easy, I watch people as they wait in line, maybe 10-20 people back and that guy kept double checking that it was hidden".  We were joking amongst ourselves and gave thanks for the tip, we'll know what to do next time :)

On to the seats

We got past security, it appeared that a lot of people had the same idea as we had, stay outside and party as long as you can. It was more crowded than we anticipated, even though there were still a lot of people partying in the parking lots.  We got in there just as the lights came on. We  walked around for about 15 minutes looking at the hotties (chicks in that day) looking at the T-Shirts booths, I bought one before and one after the show. I got the black concert shirt with album cover of Diary of a Madman on the front and  the words Diary of a Madman on the back. We then hit restrooms one last time then proceeded to hit the floor and get our seats. I don't recall having any problems with other people in our seats. We had 4 or 5 seats in a row about 20 or so rows back from the stage on Randy's side of the stage.  It was packed and we sat there and just looked around at the girls, freaks and various fights, joints going back and forth from both directions from people we didn't know...typical concert until...........

The lights go down

Finally the moment we were waiting for, we were going to see Ozzy Osbourne and Randy Rhoads. It was at this moment I noticed something that wasn't too cool. The folding chair I was in didn't  have arm rests, this meant that I would be about  6 inches smaller. You see when you are on the main floor you never sit down,  you stand, the higher up you stand the better so you end up standing on top the arm rests. It wasn't too much of a problem as my friends were cool enough to trade off with me throughout the show. As the arena went black the crowd went nuts, then we hear the ending part of Diary of a Madman, we, the entire crowd went nuts, stage lights reveal the enormous set, a medieval castle, crosses, gates and killer lights. It looked awesome and really was a beautiful sight.  I started to look for the band, primarily Randy and I noticed the crowd in front of me go even more crazy...we were able to see Randy and Rudy entombed in cages with metal / iron gates in front of them, thrown to the iron maidens if you will:) The place was going nuts while I'm trying to see what was going on, I didn't think the sound was really loud enough and my one of my buddies tries yell to me that they aren't playing that as the spotlights or brighter lights hit them behind the gates and you can clearly make out Randy and Rudy standing there not playing while the gates rise up. I really don't remember if Ozzy if was saying or screaming anything or not as I was so in awe of what was about to go down. I do know that I didn't see him and I didn't care.  I knew we were about to get our ears blown off. You have to remember that on a main floor (which is flat) ad 20 or so rows back you are in an area where stage floor is about eye level to you so you have to look above, around and pick you angles to get a good view. We figured out what was going on with the pre recorded intro and were ready to rock now.

Over the  Mountain - This show begins!

While I'm bobbing and weaving through high hair in front of me  on my tip-toes I see Randy and his pinstripe prototype Jackson. I honestly couldn't make out if it was white or not for a while but that thing appeared to magically glow with colors of stage lights. Ozzy comes shooting out of the floor from underneath the stage floor in a big chair and they proceed to open up with Over the Mountain, as the place goes in more of a frenzy. I remember being bummed for a second or two that they weren't playing Diary of a Madman, only a brief second though. Over the Mountain rocked and hit us hard. This concert was pretty loud, real loud, the type of loud where you can scream at the top of you lungs and your buddy inches away can't hear you, you just hit each other, make eye contact and do the high fives, yeah this is cool. I think where  we were positioned on the floor the volume just nailed us, you could feel it, we loved it.

We stood there and heard song after song and watched Randy, Rudy, Tommy, Don?? (although we really couldn't see him too well high up in the castle) and Ozzy perform  I Don't Know, Crazy Train, Believer etc. Mr. Crowley really stood out for me. Randy played out the second solo and it was completely new for me. Also seeing that  Polka Dot V for the first time was cool. Again my eyes could not adjust to it very well as it appeared to glow with lights and reflect the bright lights. I don't recall the set order and only know what guitars were used on each song after fact, not while it was happening.  I wasn't as an experienced in guitars as I am now and  honestly wasn't trying to sponge it in. At the time we all didn't know what would tragically happen little over a month after this show. I was enjoying the moment there, then and now, not thinking it was a historic event for me.  It was a really great show for me to experience. I wasn't too critical of performances as I was not nearly as skilled in music and theory then as I am now. I was just there enjoying the event as a fan, a high school kid with no worries and not as a musician. I never tried to track down some bootlegs of this show, it might be interesting to listen to but on the other hand I don't want them to alter my memory of this great show. It  really was Randy Rhoads for heaven sakes, he sounded full, loud had more of the little fills and noises and of course the live feedback than what you hear on the studio albums. He added things and changed things to accommodate for the over dubs. It sounded at times to be more than one guy up there playing. Randy owned the crowd as far as I was concerned, sure a lot of people just focused on Ozzy but I didn't care what he was doing really. I was on Randy's side and mostly kept my eye on him the best that I could. The song set was a good order and moved along too fast for me. There was a good combination tunes but I wished for more songs off of Diary.

Randy's solo

This was something that I remember the best.  To hear him play something I never heard him do, live and loud with the Diary size of production was absolutely phenomenal. It was just him and no one else on stage. It really seemed longer in duration than it really was for some reason. Basically his solo was a variation of what you hear on the live Tribute album, but live and at concert volume. Cobo acoustically is a pretty good venue for concerts and Randy filled it up with himself wonderfully. The power of the man and his guitar was just incredible.  His stage presence was excellent, not just for his solo spot but for the entire show. He is just the epitome of cool, his stances, his movements. None of it seemed fake, choreographed or planned out. He just was a monster performer, not one of those  'stand there and look cool types. He was all over the stage and never appeared to miss a note as far as I could tell. The fast ending to his solo spot was rapid fire. The muted runs sounded so great in the arena. I later had a tape of "Bat heads soup" that was recorded live, I used to take the output of a tape deck  and run it into a guitar amp and crank the hell out of it trying to recreate the sound and vibe I heard that night but it never sounded the same, still cool but different. I was in awe of how great this was and that it was so damn personal, one guy, one guitar and 12,000 stunned people. I really get goose bumps thinking about it. It is strange for me that after all this time since 1982 that this spot is what remains at the forefront of my memory of the show. The other odd thing to me is that it wasn't only the sounds but the visual aspect, the set, the incredible vivid lighting just enhanced the show making it even that much better.

They do play Sabbath - The hand

They ended up playing Black Sabbath songs as we all now know. The crowd loved it,  I had some mixed feelings about it. Iron Man is a crowd favorite and Randy did a very nice abbreviated version of it. Children of the Grave was a pleasant and unexpected surprise and I enjoyed that. The next one I remembered as being an encore. I could be wrong but I distinctly recall what seemed like about 3 minutes of the entire venue chanting "Ozzy, Ozzy, Ozzy" . When the band returned to the stage after the typical "fake concert ending"  the lights out,  Ozzy is extended out in front of the first couple rows sitting in a big white hand, we were thinking that maybe he really is going to blow up a goat. Some pyro explosions go off and a bunch of crap went flying, I didn't know what it was and couldn't see where Ozzy went but he re-appeared shortly after that, I think he came back out from where his first entrance at the start of the show but I'm not sure of it. Ozzy was asking the crowd "What do you want to hear, Want do you want to hear" I was yelling "SATO , Diary of a Madman" as loud as I could. They broke into Paranoid and I was a bit disappointed but Randy ripped a pretty good solo during it. I remember thinking to myself that it was a great little solo and better than Iommi's.

Hang a Dwarf and Raw Liver

Throughout the night they had these evil looking dwarfs that would come out and give Ozzy a drink of water, a towel or a big cross etc. They also threw buckets of water on the crowd. They threw guts, raw liver and what looked to be intestines out in the crowd. It was funny watching these people reach up and grab some slimy liver like it was a drumstick or something. At one point during Goodbye to Romance they hung a dwarf from the ceiling. Ozzy puts the noose on him  and they pull him a couple stories in the air at about center stage, the little guys feet flailing about and he acts like he's dying. It was a funny little gimmick. I was thinking to myself at the time, damn that dude is pretty high up there, if that rope breaks he's a goner! I really don't remember the exact time of the song that they do this but when I listen to Tribute, I think the time during Randy's guitar solo during, where the crowds cheers, they are cheering for the hanging of the dwarf and not Randy's beautiful guitar solo that he plays on Goodbye to Romance.

The show is over

You could sense that during Good-Bye to Romance that this show was soon to be over, I don't recall if they played another number or not but I'm thinking they did the fake ending one more time and came back out for one more song. I can't remember what it was . I do remember that as the night went on and they had yet to  play Diary of a Madman or S.A.T.O. I had thought that Diary of a Madman would have been a great last song and that they would wrap it up with it. They never played it. As great as the show was I was still wanting more and when the house lights came on it was over. We all looked at each other and we looked like we just went through a war or something, we were still full of adrenalin even after 90 minutes or so. We talked about the show on the way out. I bought a bootleg baseball shirt, black with white long sleeves that had the cover Diary of a Madman on the front and the tour dates on the back of it. We head back to the car for some much anticipated cold ones chilling in trunk of the car in a cold February night.

After getting home that night, laying in the silence of my room and rewinding what I just had witnessed  I noticed that my ears were ringing louder than they have for any show I've been to. I guess that on the drive home I didn't notice it because we were jamming to the tapes and talking real loud amongst each other. As draining as the show was I couldn't sleep, I wasn't tired at all. It was a school night and I had to get up to go to school the next morning. The next day at school I met up with my friends who attended with me, we were all asking each other if we could hear, we couldn't ....everyone was temporarily deaf or close enough to it. It felt like you had ear muffs on or the ear plugs that you use while at the shooting range. The talk of the show at school was the hot topic for the next couple of days. People who went that I didn't know went, donning newly acquired concert shirts, sharing stories on what they had witnessed and how we saw it from our point on the main floor.  My friends and I  who went together to show were dead tired and were showing it too. We had a rough night and great time.

Let's do it again

The real music fans of Detroit who saw shows in the city would always try to catch the act again in Ann Arbor if the tour went through there. The Diary Tour did. Ann Arbor is about a 45 minute drive from Detroit so it wasn't a big deal taking a little trip. My friends and I planned on going. I don't remember the date but I believe it was scheduled for the beginning of April.  Some time had passed and a friend of mine said she knew of a guy that was selling front row tickets to the Diary Show in Ann Arbor and would I like them. I said yes right away, there were 6 or 7 tickets and I had to get commitment and cash from people. That didn't take too long, my same friends who went with me were in along with other friends who were probably tired of hearing us brag on how great the Detroit show was and they had to see it for themselves. We were so looking forward to front row seats. None of us ever got that close to any concert before and the Cobo show was the closest we've been up to that point.  20 rows seems close and it is but honestly it isn't the best place to be to watch a show. You have to constantly look through rows of hands and people in front of you. If you were 7 ft tall it was alright but I'm only 5'9 and 1/2.

The Ann Arbor Michigan show - Middle fingers and Brad Gillis

A couple weeks passed  after the March 19th tragedy and we heard that the Diary tour would continue on regardless. My friends and I weren't nearly as enthusiastic about going to the Ann Arbor show for some reason. We just wanted to go to compare the two shows and to see if the "new guy" was any good. We didn't know who it was. When we spoke about it we just referred to him as the new guy or the new guitar player and thought no way he could be as good as Randy was.  We later found out that it was Brad Gillis. We were in the front row of the venue center stage left. Again I don't remember who the opening act was or if there was any. We had tons of beautiful groupies come up and try to sweet talk us into giving up our seats, we were having fun with it all. We later let a couple of them stand on our chairs with us for a while. They were certainly hot looking, easy on the eyes and didn't obstruct our views, and they smelled nice too so why not:) Not too often high school kids get Playboy Playmate quality women standing next to them rubbing up against them.

It really was a cool night, especially being in the front row and getting a better view and seeing some little things we missed being 20 rows back at the Cobo show. Things like the hand Ozzy came out on for the encore, it was cooler being right there by it. I also noticed that Ozzy wore no shoes, and continually spit on the stage floor. I don't know if he had a cold or what but I remember thinking that he has no shoes on and he's sliding around in his own spit :)  Ozzy was a really great performer and really moved all over the place and made sure he got everyone involved. I paid more attention to Ozzy this time around. Our seats were again close to center but on Brad's side of the stage. Brad had some of the coolest custom Fender strats that I have ever seen, all had painted necks like is famous red and black strat. In hindsight Brad really played very well. The average Joe Fan wouldn't know Brad from Randy Rhoads which is kind of upsetting but really is a tip of the hat to Brad. He played the songs well and didn't nail the Randy's solos exactly but he certainly didn't do them or they songs any injustice. One of my friends who also played guitar had the same sour attitude I did at the time. We felt that the tour should have been ended for a while to give everyone some healing time. We were still bummed about losing Randy who we just had seen a few weeks earlier. We regrettably took it out on Brad. We had our middle fingers up and in his face all night, they changed to the devil horns when Ozzy was in front of us. We weren't the only ones flipping him off either. I have to tell you that none of this distracted Brad one bit, he put on a great show and didn't miss a beat, he was the ultimate professional. I remember one of Playmates asking why I didn't like him, I just said because he's not Randy, lame I know but I was a high school kid. As I grew up and matured into a man I feel pretty bad about being so disrespectable to Brad Gillis that night. The irony of it all  is that I gained a lot of respect for him that very same night. He is a cool guitar player and has one of the coolest guitar tones on Speak of the Devil album. Brad went back to his old band Night Ranger also has some solo records and plays some great instrumental music. I emailed Brad a couple times over the years apologizing for my foolish behavior back 1982. I never got a reply, I don't blame him either.

I can't compare the two shows as it just wouldn't be fair. One was Randy Rhoads, my idol at the time, I didn't know what to expect or what songs were to be played, or what the set looked like, or how long was the set etc. The show with Brad, I knew everything and the exact sequence of it all. It doesn't mean that it wasn't good because that isn't the case at. Really the only things that were different were the  date, the city, the venue and the guitarist.... and the latter being a pretty big difference.



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