In 1977 my brother and I decided to take guitar lessons. I wanted to learn on the acoustic guitar and Steve on the electric. My Mom, upon recommendation by a family friend, took us to Musonia School of Music, in North Hollywood, just around the corner from where we lived, where Randy Rhoads was the electric guitar teacher. It’s still there, currently managed by Randy’s brother Kelle.
I was nine when I started studying with Randy and continued till fifteen when he got the gig with Ozzy Osbourne. I was not only his only female guitar student – he may have had another female student but she didn’t stay on very long – but also the youngest. Lessons were 1/2 hour and were about $8. Crazy huh? We started on blues scales (the basics), progressions, and then he would solo. When I got better, he would play the rhythm and I would solo. It was great because I could really feel what it was like to play “lead” guitar. Randy was very inspiring and a dedicated teacher. He would play riffs like no other and I would sometimes bring some of my school friends to the lessons just to watch him!
Randy was a serious musician and took guitar playing seriously. He was a quiet guy, skinny, drank Diet Cokes and smoked throughout the entire lesson. His main guitar was his cream-colored custom Les Paul. I eventually got a black custom myself, in 1978, which I still own and just used Randy Rhoads tribute concert in January of 2014. I had a 1977 cream Fender Stratocaster but it was stolen the same year out of my Mom’s station wagon. We took the insurance money and bought the Les Paul at the flagship Guitar Center, then a little store on Sunset Boulevard and across the street from where it is currently located. My uncle had a contact there and we got the guitar for approximately $800, which was a lot of money back then but still a great deal.
When I was about twelve my parents took me to see Quiet Riot at The Starwood, a really happening rock club back in the 70’s. I had a lesson with Randy the day of the show who was sick with a cold. After the lesson as he was giving my progress report to my Mom, she suggested he take a new form of crystallized Vitamin C my Dad was into that helped with colds. Randy asked if she could bring some to the show later. Crystallized Vitamin C looks like white powder which she brought it in a little plastic bag. Guess what it looked like? Ha! I remember when she handed him the bag before he went on stage everyone thought my Mom was a drug dealer.
I remember after our final lesson, before he went back to tour with Ozzy, Randy came told my Mom, “When she’s my age, she’s gonna be better then me.” Randy installed self-confidence in me more then any teacher I’ve had in my life. He believed in me, made me believe in myself and motivated me to practice. I’ve incorporated those lessons he taught me my whole life, in performing, recording, producing, and teaching some of my own students.
I am grateful Randy was a part of my life, not only as my guitar teacher but as a teacher of life. I miss him terribly and hope he is proud of me.
Janet Robin [Facebook + Twitter] was a former featured touring member of the Lindsey Buckingham Band (from Fleetwood Mac), Meredith Brooks Band, and Air Supply. Guitar World Magazine recently named her one of the “Top 10 Female Guitar Players.” She has played with Tommy Emmanuel, Monte Montgomery, Peppino D’Agostino, Heart, John Waite, Colin Hay, and many more great artists. She was also the youngest, and only female student of the legendary guitarist, Randy Rhoads (Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist) for 6 years. Robin has also appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Craig Kilbourn Show, and many European televison shows.
Robin plays upwards of 150 dates per year focusing on the West Coast, East Coast, Texas, and Europe. In addition to being an artist, Robin conducts guitar workshops, is a respected clinician for Turner-Renaissance Guitars and Line 6, and is endorsed by Taylor Guitars, Fender Guitars, Martin Guitars, Clayton Picks, Turner-Renaissance, Seymour Duncan, Audix, DR Strings, and Alfred Music Publishing amongst others.
Photographer Mary Grace McKernan is a portrait, wildlife, and rock ‘n roll photographer from her dual home bases in Los Angeles and Seattle.