Nearly 40 years after the untimely death of Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Randy Rhoads, Billy Idol guitarist Steven Stevens and The String Revolution are honoring the late musician and his love of classical guitar. The group performed a flamenco version of the 1980 Osbourne hit “Crazy Train” which also features Rhoads’ former student Janet Robin.
Videos by American Songwriter
Originally released in 1980 as the first single off Osbourne’s debut album Blizzard of Oz, following his departure from Black Sabbath, the iconic metal song was propelled by Rhoads’ windy riffs.
Considered one of the best guitarists of all time—and “Crazy Train” one of the best guitar solos of all time—Rhoads continued working with Osbourne on his second album Diary of a Madman, the last before his untimely death in 1982.
Their classical reimagining of the original, the flamenco-driven “Crazy Train” by Stevens and The String Revolution, led by Robin and featuring Markus Illko, Daniel Schwarz, and Art Zavala Jr., was their perfect homage to Rhoads, who continued taking guitar lessons through his days with Osbourne. At seven years old, Rhoads began taking classical guitar lessons before switching over to electric guitar and started teaching by the age of 16.
The String Revolution’s Janet Robin, who was Rhoads’ solo female student, said they wanted to maintain the energy of the original track and put their own stamp on it.
“As my guitar teacher, Randy Rhoads used to say to me, ‘Don’t try to play like me, play like yourself,’” remembers Robin. “I really took that to heart and I feel [The String Revolution] was on board with that same kind of thinking, be true to the original but put a new, original spin on it, and that’s what I think we did.”
Stevens says Rhoads’ 2021 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction was long overdue. “As I was contacted to contribute to a reimagining of Ozzy’s ‘Crazy Train,’ in my mind, I had one requirement, that it not be in any way similar to the iconic original version,” adds Stevens. “Upon hearing the track two things struck me immediately, it works so well as a Spanish guitar piece, and that Randy would have loved it. It’s widely known that Randy was a beautiful classical guitarist, even continuing lessons through his Ozzy days. I hope we did you proud, buddy.”
Rhoads’ sister Kathy Rhoads Dargenzio said hearing the new rendition of “Crazy Train” put a “huge” smile on her face.
“Janet Robin was one of Randy’s students back in the day,” she adds. “To see and hear my brother’s influence is bittersweet. He would have loved this. Thanks, Janet and the band for keeping his flame burning bright… nailed it.”
Photo by Hristo Shindov.