RR graveBy Metal Dave Glessner

After years of daydreaming and wishful thinking, I finally landed in Hollywood for the first time around 1997. It was a lifelong goal of mine to party on Sunset Strip and visit the clubs that birthed the likes of Van Halen, Quiet Riot, Motley Crue, Poison, WASP and all the other lipstick junkies and loaded Guns who provided the hair-metal soundtrack to the 1980s decade of decadence

Before finding my way to the Rainbow, Whisky, Viper Room and Coconut Teaszer, however, my first request to my friend Bob who picked me up at the airport was to get me to Randy Rhoads’ grave in San Bernardino — which I was begrudgingly told was some two hours away in California rush-hour traffic. “Aw, what the hell?” Bob shrugged, like someone who was unaware of the greatness of Rhoads. “You made the trip and if you wanna see this guy’s grave, then so be it.”

In the days before Google, my only source to the whereabouts of Randy’s resting place was a used book I had been holding onto that outlined all the memorable rock-n-roll sites in California. Thanks to that book, I knew Randy was buried in Mountain View Cemetery in San Bernardino — and that was about all I knew. Onward, Bob!

We finally get there and start looking for the RHOADS memorial that matched the picture in the book. This being a Tuesday afternoon, we had the place all to ourselves. Surprisingly, Randy’s grave didn’t jump out at us right away. I was half expecting a gaggle of headbangers to be our point of reference, but we just kept wandering in silence among the trees and headstones. Finally, we saw it. Just like the picture in the book. Amazing! To see something like that in person at a time before the Internet made everything instantly familiar was pretty damn impressive. Randy Rhoads has always been my favorite guitarist and here I was halfway across the country standing in the presence of guitar-hero greatness.

Like the statue of Stevie Ray Vaughan in my adopted hometown of Austin, Randy’s grave was decorated with trinkets left by fans. There were guitar picks, an Ozzy Osbourne “Diary of a Madman” cassette case, wilted flowers, withered sheet music and other odds and ends. I just marveled at the reality of being there. Speechless! Mission accomplished. Thanks, Bob.

As we turned to leave, I got an even bigger kick in the head. Not far from where my favorite guitar player was buried stood a huge headstone bearing my surname, which is definitely NOT Smith, Johnson or something else fairly common. What are the freakin’ odds that a GLESSNER would be buried near RHOADS? I have to admit it was more eerie than exciting at first, but once the honor of it all sank in, I realized I was leaving San Bernardino with one of my favorite rock-n-roll stories. 

RIP Randy Rhoads (1956-1982). Your music is immortal.

  1. Terry says:

    Great story and great pics. You have always been the one TRUE rocker that is truly 2Fast2Die. Much love my good friend. Peace.

    • admin says:

      Thanks Wiggletooth! Appreciate you reading and posting. Hope you’re well. Please continue to be 2Fast2Die! Best, dave

    • MaryLou says:

      Wow, this is a great story and what a wonderful post! I work for Dignity Memorial, and my team and I were getting a tour of Mt. View Memorial Park yesterday and we saw this wonderful Mausoleum paid for by Ozzy for his friend & band member, Mr. Randy Rhoads! I hope you had a great trip to California many years ago 🙂

  2. Scott Janes says:

    Great story, Dave!

  3. bob says:

    I want my photo credits. Just kidding. Thank you for the kind words. Good times were had.

    Dunno if you remember that trip including our having drinks at the Bar Marmont with a lovely actress from Texas, but she, Elizabeth Mitchell, has gone on to do some pretty big things, had a notable role in Lost.

  4. James Henry says:

    Good read Dave,

  5. TMack says:

    I’ll tell my RR story for the for ya Dave. I saw RR twice w/Ozzy once on the Blizzard and once on the Madman tour, about two weeks before his death. The Blizzard tour we really didn’t know what to expect since Madman hadn’t come out yet and there was limited airplay and publicity. All I really remember is Randy way wearing a big bow tie and we were all excited to see Ozzy again since we went really into Sabbath without Ozzy, Dio was ok but, we loved Oz. I remember they played some “new”stuff off the Madman album like Flying High and Diary. Now for the second time. We we all (talking about my guitar geek buddys) VERY aware of RR by then and we were all trying to learn every riff we could. I’ll never forget standing on the coliseum floor with everyone and being excited about finally being able to see how the song were played. Remember this was the dark ages, no youtube or bunches of guitar mags transcribing everything for you. We had to learn by ear… crazy right? So the lights go down and the curtain go’s up and there’s Ozzy doing the double peace sign with the fringe shirt and they open with “Over The Mountain”. Great! I’m thinking I’ve been working on this for months and sucking, and now I’m gonna watch RR do it right in front of me. Ha! RR knew what was up….as soon as the big solo break came up he turned around and with his back facing the crowd he played the whole solo while shaking his ass at us!! We were sooo bummed. He was grinning from ear to ear when he turned back around and I guess that was his was of telling us to figure it out ourselves. That fucker…still cracks me up to this day. RIP RR.