Interview and story by Don Wilcock
When Ozzy Osbourne’s lead guitarist Randy Rhoads was killed in a 1982 plane crash, Sharon Osbourne called Rhett Tyler – who is headlining at TJ’s Flightline Pub in Scotia on Saturday night (June 7) – to replace him.
“Of course, I turned her down,” says Rhett today. “I wouldn’t even do the audition.”
Never mind that Randy had combined classical influences with heavy metal and was on several greatest guitarist lists. David Fricke in Rolling Stone proclaimed him the 85th greatest guitarist of all time, declaring unequivocally in 2005, “Were it not for (Randy’s) 1982 demise in a plane crash, his already enormous influence on metal-guitar playing would have increased a hundredfold.”
Rhett says simply, “I did not like his music at the time. I was not into that dark thing. I didn’t realize that he (Ozzy) was really a Vincent Price character, and that it probably would have been a lot of fun, but you know….”
Then there was the time in ’75 when a mutual friend told Rhett that Keith Richards loved his music but couldn’t consider him as a replacement for Mick Taylor in the Stones because Rhett wasn’t famous enough.
And for years Rhett wondered why Stevie Ray Vaughan sounded so familiar to him until someone came up to him during a gig at Terra Blues in the Big Apple and said that Stevie had spent hours and hours learning to play guitar from a Rhett Tyler audition tape that Rhett’s dad had left at the studio where Stevie recorded his first five albums.
Listening to his new double CD The Rhythm, the Power and the Blues, it’s obvious that for Rhett it’s totally about the music, never about the glory. “We’re hoping to get the music out there and to get it presented in a way that people can pick up on what it really is,” says Tyler, “and not some Pepsi commercial.”