RANDY RHOADS’ RIVALRY WITH EDDIE VAN WHO…AND THE RIFF THAT SAVED OZZY’S ASS

Whenever I hear ‘Crazy Train’ I’m immediately transported back to 8th grade Guitar class. One dude will forever be etched in my mind. Dave was 1/2 Japanese, all of about 5 ft tall, and probably weighed 80 lbs soaking wet, if that. His hair, alone worthy of open adoration, making up the bulk of his weight and height. This ‘Metal Mane’ was streaked, sprayed, and stood a good 6 inches above his head, cascading down to the middle of his back in perfectly teased strands. My 13 yr old brain could not fathom the ridiculous routine and expense this must have required. But damn if he didn’t more the rockstar part than 90% of the bands on the cover Cream and Hit Parader magazine. His bare arms were like sinewy, wire pipe cleaners. And I’d never seen jeans that tight in my life. Not even on a girl. No sir. I don’t know where the hell he found them, or how he breathed. The entire situation was delicately perched upon tiny black (or white) Capezio, soft-as-hell-leather lace-up dance shoes. Boom. Mind blown. Only a handful of dudes had the nuts to wear these. Dave’s look was definitely balls-out for West Phoenix. But nobody questioned him, because Dave was the reigning guitar badass. While the rest of us fumbled through the opening of ‘Stairway to Heaven’, Dave was staring at the ceiling tiles, biting his lip, soloing like the Segovia of Heavy Metal.

Dave even brought his own guitar to class. Lugged it around in a case thicker than him, covered in cool stickers. Rather that than play the nylon-strung acoustic beaters they had in class. I don’t remember what kind of acoustic it was, but the strings (always Dean Markley) were so light that you could hardly see them, let alone feel them. You had to lean in to hear a damn thing, but it was worth it. And the action was set so low that you could run scales faster than a hot knife through butter. But if you strummed it would buzz like crazy. No worries. No one was strumming shit. Everyone was shredding– with varying degrees of success. Dave was a Rock God in the making, and everyone at Maryvale High School seemed to sense it. Dave was into the hot, new Japanese Metal bands that no one else even heard of. And he spoke of Yngvie, Eddie, and Randy in hushed whispers like they were comrades. Knew all their solos and tricks, and could perform them on cue. Eruption, Spanish Fly, Dee, and of course, Crazy Train were all in his finely honed repertoire. We moved from Phoenix to Tempe that year, and I changed schools, so I don’t really know whatever became of Dave. But my fascination with the marvel and mystery of Randy Rhoads was firmly cemented. No head-banging hooligan. A sensitive, immensely talented man taken too soon.

Ozzy and Randy Rhoads

Ozzy Osbourne & Randy Rhoads playing that epic polka dot Flying V! — photo by © Paul Natkin

“I never really got into Black Sabbath when I was in England. Right? And then Ozzy came out with this great first album, you know, it really was good. And we got to see them play after that, like almost every night. And so, Randy Rhoads, although being a wonderful guitar player, could not play Asteroids for shit. I beat him right across this country. From East coast, to West and back.

Randy Rhoads was like just, brilliant. You know, I mean of course he got better after he died. You know, because everybody does. Right? But uh, I loved Randy, yeah. He took risks. He wasn’t scared, you know. I mean, he knew his instrument, you know? So he’d just go for it. That’s what I used to like about him. And you could…like, Ozzy used to just throw him around, throw him up on his shoulders while he was playing. And he never missed a note.”

–Lemmy from Motorhead

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FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH | CROWE’S UNDERCOVER HIGH SCHOOL MASTERPIECE

sean penn fast times at ridgemont high spicoli sean penn cover

Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) remains one of my favorite teen / high school films of all time. It brilliantly captures the cultural touchstones of a generation, and the glory days of youth long gone by– before we were slaves to technology and all this social media bullshit.

A young Cameron Crowe, then a freelance writer for Rolling Stone magazine, went undercover as a student at Clairemont High School in San Diego, CA to write a book (of the same name), which he also adapted for the film. In Fast Times we get to witness a bevy of young Hollywood stars already in the making– Sean Penn (who totally stole the film, and birthed an army of Spicoli wannabes in high schools across the country), Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates and Jennifer Jason Leigh. There are also early appearances by relative unknowns at the time who would go on to major stardom– Nicolas Cage, (then Nicolas Coppola), Forest Whitaker, Eric Stoltz, and Anthony (Goose) Edwards. Fast Times’ soundtrack was also groundbreaking, featuring a quintessential blend ’70s & ’80s rock & roll artists, that to me, will forever be connected with the film. I mean, who can hear “Moving in Stereo” by The Cars without instantly thinking of that hot, hormone-raging pool scene? Epic.

Haters gonna hate, but eat this– In 2005, Fast Times at Ridgemont High was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. If you’re of this era it’s definitely a film that still resonates and makes you want to roll a fat one, throw on your Vans, hit the arcade, grab some tasty waves, and meet some babes.

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DOROTHY STRATTEN’S EARLY DAYS | CUSTOM AUTO AND BIKE SHOW MODEL

dorothy stratten playboy bunny

Dorothy Stratten — Playboy Playmate of the Month for August, 1979 & Playmate of the Year for 1980.

Anyone who lived during the time of the brutal killing and tragic loss of Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten, probably will never forget how utterly shocking and saddening it truly was. It spawned 2 movies (including the gripping classic, Star 80), books (including ‘The Killing of the Unicorn’ by Peter Bogdanovich, her boyfriend at the time), and many songs written in her memory. Fellow Canadian Bryan Adams actually co-wrote 2 songs about her. The crime is no less shocking today, and we are left with her story of a young girl who seemingly had acheived the American dream of fortune and fame, only to have it violently stolen from her, along with her young fragile life, by an insecure, low-life punk, whose name is not even worth mentioning. RIP Dorothy Stratten. You live on. Many of the photos are via dorothystratten.com the authoritative site on Dorothy Stratten.

DOROTHY STRATTEN PAUL SNIDER PHOTO

“The Medieval Knight stands bold in its shining armour as Miss World of Wheels, Dorothy Hoogstraten (AKA Dorothy Stratten) dubs Ron Bergsma, who is one of the ‘Macho Man’ contestants from Universal Olympic Gym at the World of Wheels Custom Car Show, August 16th, 1978.” –Photo by Paul Snider.

dorothy stratten bikini firebird

Dorothy Stratten in a bikini with the 1979 Firebird Trans Am custom-built by legendary George Barris and that starred in the Steve Martin film “The Jerk”. 

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THE PHOTOGRAPHY OF KIRK WEST | ICONIC IMAGES OF MUSIC LEGENDS — THE BLUES

Kirk West is probably best known as the long-time tour manager, archivist, and photographer for the Allman Brothers Band— but before that he spent many years shooting many other musical legends while living in Chicago. Many of those images laid dormant for decades, and now with time on his hands since his 2010 retirement from ABB, the amazing images have now come to light– and many of them are stunning in their honest, fly-on-the-wall, honest energy. Being a lover of the Blues, I was instantly strike by many of his images of legends in a bygone time that I’d love to step back into.

1978 — Blues guitar great, Johnny Winter at Chicago’s Park West theatre –Image by © Kirk West There’s a famous story about a time in 1962 when Johnny and his brother went to see B.B. King at a Beaumont club called the Raven. The only whites in the crowd, they no doubt stood out. But Johnny already had his chops down and wanted to play with the revered B.B.”I was about 17,” Johnny remembers, “and B.B. didn’t want to let me on stage at first. He asked me for a union card, and I had one. Also, I kept sending people over to ask him to let me play. Finally, he decided that there enough people who wanted to hear me that, no matter if I was good or not, it would be worth it to let me on stage. He gave me his guitar and let me play. I got a standing ovation, and he took his guitar back!” via

1985 — Late guitar great, Stevie Ray Vaughan at the Chicago Blues Fest –Image by © Kirk West     From Guitar World Magazine ’85 — “Vaughan remembered something that came from Johnny Winter, the first white Texas blues guitar hero, who’d preceded him down the long path. ‘He said something to me when the first record was doing so well,’ Stevie Ray recalled. ‘It made me feel a lot of respect for what we did, for the music. He said that he wanted me to know that people like Muddy Waters and the cats who started it all really had respect for what we’re doing, because it made people respect them. We’re not taking credit for the music. We’re trying to give it back.'” I dig that attitude– doing what you love, and doing it well– to give back to those who cam before you– and the music as a whole. You don’t hear  enough talk like that these days. That’s real heart and soul right there.

1978– Johnny Winter, Bob Margolin, & Muddy Waters at Harry Hope’s, Cary IL where they recorded Muddy “Mississippi” Waters – Live  –Image by © Kirk West. During early live performances, Johnny Winter would often recount about how, as a child, it was dream of his to one day play with the great blues guitarist Muddy Waters. In 1977 Winter’s his manager creating Blue Sky Records to be distributed through Columbia,  Winter now had the opportunity to bring Waters into the studio for Hard Again. The album became a best-seller, with Winter producing and playing back-up guitar on the set that included Waters, and  the legendary James Cotton on harmonica. Winter produced two more studio albums for Muddy Waters – I’m Ready (this time featuring Walter Horton on harmonica) and King Bee. The partnership produced Grammy Awards, a best-selling live album (Muddy “Mississippi” Waters Live), and Winter’s own Nothin’ But the Blues, on which he was backed by members of Muddy Waters’ band.

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“LIVING THE LIFE” | EPIC OLD SCHOOL BIKER POETRY BY SOREZ THE SCRIBE

“Ricky’s Beach”, circa 197? from “Living The Life” –Image by © Doug Barber

Having featured the photography of Doug Barber (AKA Q-Ball) in “Living The Life”, it’s now time to honor the epic biker poetry of Eddi Pliska (AKA Sorez the Scribe). Like I said, his scribes throttle, brake, and pull no punches and together with Doug they have created a 1%er’s masterpiece that is truly one of a kind. Sorez’s work has graced the pages of Outlaw Biker Magazine, Easyriders, and he’s a member of the Highway Poets Motor Cycle Club– “America’s Only Bike Club Of Published Journalists.” 

Sorez’s love of the biker lifestyle started at the tender age of ten yrs old when he picked up his first copy of Easyriders, and at thirteen he got his first bike– a Harley-Davidson 350cc Sprint that he walked ten miles to his home and repaired himself. Sorez never finished high school– instead learning life on the streets, and finding family and friends in the clubhouse– some still brothers some 30 years later. He’ll always remember on caring teacher telling him on his way out– “Don’t ever give up writing. One day your works shall be read.”

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WHETHER I’M READY OR NOT– IT’S TIME | RETRACING A FATHER’S LEGACY

My friend Matt over at Smoke & Throttle is on a very cool quest to retrace the tracks left behind by his late father, 1987 AHRMA Champ, Robert “Snuffy” Smith. Matt was knee deep in his father’s racing circle as a kid. It was a way of life, plain and simple. But now that Matt has a love of motorcycles all his own, and a new taste for racing– he’s grown a whole new respect and appreciation for his beloved dad’s passion and accomplishments on the track. Armed with a new perspective, it’s pretty meaningful to reflect back on and understand just how special those days were. I’m excited to see this story unfold as Matt shares it with us over the weeks and months to come. Read on.

1996– Robert “Snuffy” Smith on his ’76 Triumph T140 (25) and Jesse Morris (295) at Daytona.

“I grew up going to the races with my father, the late Robert ‘Snuffy’ Smith. I always loved the hustle and bustle of the pit area. Rushing to get the jetting corrected before the next heat race, or trouble shooting timing issues with minutes left before the green flag drops. Multiple people tearing into a bike like doctors working on an accident victim after being wheeled into the E.R.. It excited me then – and as I’ve gotten back into going to races – it excites me even more now. I knew after last weekends trip to Roebling Road that wrenching on my own bike and competing was just something I HAD to experience.”

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STRAY CAT STRUTTIN’ STYLE | BRIAN SETZER AND THE BOYS ROCK THIS TOWN

I loved the early days of the Stray Cats back when they were young, raw and fresh from Long Island. Seeing lil’ Brian Setzer in these grainy old pics (if you can help out with any photo credits, I’d appreciate it!), some even from his pre-tattoo days built like a matchstick with a pile of hair that entered the room a full minute before he did…well, they are a sight to see. Their style was pretty tough back in the hungry years before the big payday when they rocked on a steady diet of engineer boots, creepers, skinny jeans, polka dot thrift shop tops with cut-off sleeves, bandanas and a sneer. Soon the look was gobbled up by the mainstream made-for-MTV crowd and regurgitated into a uniform with elements of new wave / new romantics fluffy hairdos, argyles, leopard print, gold lamé, Zodiac boots, and over-sized sportcoats.

Give the Stray Cats their due. Not only were they heavily responsible for a resurgence of interest in American roots Rock, Rockabilly, Swing, and Greaser culture– Brian Setzer was honored with being the first artist since Chet Atkins to be granted a Gretsch artist model guitar built and named for him. A true reflection of how strongly he was identified with Gretsch, and how he helped cement them with a new generation as the true player’s guitar for anyone serious about Rockabilly and the like. After the Stray Cats, guys like the Reverend Horton Heat, Mike Ness (Setzer played on Cheating at Solitaire) and others like them have carved-out their own sound and legacy on a Gretsch– and they owe a nod to Brian Setzer for paving the way.

A young and well-coiffed Brian Setzer of the Stray Cats back in the early 1980s

1982, Paris– A couple of lean, mean rockers Thierry Le Coz & Brian Setzer. Brian and the Stray Cats hit the road for the UK and Europe early on, as the Teddy Boy movement and the strong  love abroad for the Sun Records & rockabilly music legends (Elvis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Duane Eddy, and many more) called them there to make their mark. Thierry (yep, he’s French) is a great guitarist and started out in the Rockabilly band Teen Kats back in the early 1980s, and met Brian and the boys while they were there touring Europe.  Le Coz moved to Austin, Texas in ’84, played with Will Sexton in Will and the Kill among others, and is still doing his thing. I love that pic of them, great style.

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SEXTON BROS & ARC ANGELS | AUSTIN, THE BRAMHALL LEGACY & VAUGHAN…

I love Texas. There are more Rock, Country, Folk and Blues music greats from the Lone Star State than you can shake a stick at– not to mention the colorful and storied scene they created that lives-on today. The loyal fans who were around back then dutifully keep it alive through a rich oral history.

My buddy Bruce is one of those guys. Ask him if he recalls when the Sex Pistols toured through Texas in ’78 and his eyes light up like a Christmas tree. Before you can catch your breath, out come tales of the filth, fury & raucousness of that time like it was yesterday– “You mean that Sid Vicious kid?  Yeah man, of course I remember it. It was a mess! He was runnin’ his mouth, spittin’, and swingin’ that bass around like a baseball bat on stage– mowin’ people down.  They wanted to kill him!” Ask him about Charlie Sexton, and out come tales of the early days of him and his lil’ brother Will playing in clubs before they were teens…then with the Vaughan brothers (Jimmie & Stevie Ray)…and Charlie’s much-loved band, Arc Angels, with Doyle Bramhall II, son of the legendary Doyle Bramhall…and how Doyle (Senior) and the Vaughan brothers own history together (among many others, Jimmie and Doyle both came out of the legendary band, The Chessman) was foundational in laying the groundwork for the Dallas / Austin music scene in the 1960s & 1970s that is so prolific, relevant, and vital to this day. Whew.

These three families– The Vaughans, the Bramhalls, & the Sextons, are forever entwined with one another in the history of Texas music. Everyone knows about Jimmie & Stevie Ray Vaughan, ’nuff said. Doyle Bramhall (Senior) is a legend who left his mark on this world that sadly lost him back in November. Doyle Bramhall II is known for his early days with Charlie Sexton in Arc Angels. Young Doyle went on to be a singer in his own right, and a much in-demand guitarist who has backed-up some of the greats like Roger Waters and Eric Clapton. Then we have the Sexton brothers…

Charlie Sexton was often railed as a Post-Wave pretty boy, which he definitely was during his mainstream popularity. (I remember a few of the hip girls in High School with Charlie Sexton posters on their walls, and tee-shirts emblazoned with his pouty lips & piled-high coif on their budding chests.) His rising star somehow failed to reach its promised heights back then, but over the years Charlie has silenced his critics by becoming a very well-respected musician (his guitar playing is simply incredible) and producer who has toured and recorded with some of the biggest names in the business– Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, to name just a few. And for you hipsters out there– he even played with Spoon on Austin City Limits back in 2010. Will Sexton is less known, but no less talented– and perhaps even the more sensitive, thoughtful musicians of the two. Definitely more folksy, in a good way. (In all fairness, the video clips I chose of the Sexton brothers are of when they were very young, back in the ’80s, in fact. I think it’s safe to say we all have some fashion / hair moments from those days that we’d all like to forget. Go on YouTube to see their current work, which is very solid.) Charlie and his little brother Will went off on different musical paths, but those paths will bring them together again, as both make their mark in the annals of Texas music history for us to savor, and the next generation to discover.

July 4th, 1982 — A very young Charlie Sexton,13-yrs-old, playing with the Joe Ely Band (which toured as the opener for The Clash back in the day– you heard me right, this kid opened for The Clash.) at Gilley’s, Pasadena, TX. That Rockabilly look would carry through to Charlie’s next band, the Eager Beaver Boys– in fact, the hair would get higher and higher. –image Tracy Hart

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THE PHOTOGRAPHY OF RENNIE ELLIS | NO STANDING, ONLY DANCING

Bon Scott & Angus Young, Atlanta, GA 1978 — Image by © 2011 Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive

Australian photographer Rennie Ellis (1940-2003), manifested his lust for life in the incredibly raw and titillating images of ’70s & ‘8os that perfectly capture the heyday of Rock ‘n’ Roll rebellion, sexual experimentation, high fashion & tomfoolery. He eagerly exposed the gritty and honest underbelly of the times with an insider’s candor that is both magical and mesmerizing. A familiar fixture on the party scene, Rennie was widely accepted in social circles that placed him squarely in the middle of the action where he thrived on the energy– and always got the shots he wanted.

Dino Ferrari, Toorak Road 1976 — Image by © 2011 Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive

“The thing with Rennie was that he was always having fun and would never miss an opportunity to take a photo. I remember being at Rennie’s 38th birthday in Prahran when the police turned up for a noise compliant. We were all pretty smashed and our natural reaction was to stop and be quiet. Not Rennie though. We saw him take a girl outside and start taking pictures of her sitting on the police car. He just wanted to get that shot. And, from what I can recall, the police stuck around for a few drinks too. That’s how people reacted to Rennie—everyone just instinctively felt comfortable around him.”

–Rennie’s old friend Jenny Bannister 

MC, Paradise Club, Kings Cross 1970-71 — Image by © 2011 Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive

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RISE AGAIN LEE SCRATCH PERRY | PLAYING CRAZY TO CATCH WISE

“For me to survive, me have to find something for myself and it was like a spiritual vibration, so me said– me going to make spiritual music.  This spiritual music coming– they call it Reggae.”

–Lee “Scratch” Perry 

Reggae and Dub master, Lee “Scratch” Perry is often overshadowed by the Reggae giants that followed in his footsteps– namely Bob Marley.  Not that Marley doesn’t deserve praise– Perry is just long overdue, and grossly under-acknowledged.  Growing up in rural Jamaica, he later moved to Kingston and worked his way up from music studio janitor to songwriter and producer. Perry’s debut single “People Funny Boy” was one of the first recordings to sample– the sound of a baby crying.  In fact, what “Scratch” Perry was able to lay down on old, broken-down, low-tech equipment is nothing short of genius.  Perry’s crazy garb and outlandish, eccentric behavior have oft played perfectly to his reputation for being crazy– but many believe (and by his own admission) it was more a ploy to shield himself from the brutality of Jamaica’s badasses.

Now, to coincide with Lee “Scratch” Perry’s 75th birthday, there’s the release of the new album Rise Again, and documentary film called The Upsetter (narrated by Academy Award Winner Benico Del Toro)which chronicle’s Perry’s epic songwriting and producing career– highlighting his pioneering recording techniques, and ground-breaking (and still influential) contributions to reggae and dub music.

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Reggae / Dub master Lee “Scratch” Perry at his Black Ark studio in Jamaica

Lee “Scratch” Perry

Jamaica, 1976 — Lee “Scratch” Perry (and The Heptones) — Image by © Kate Simon  via

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