This past weekend was a somber one for guitar fans.
First, on Saturday, news came about the passing of Chuck Berry. We don’t often reference Berry in casual conversation. But talk to any guitar player and you’ll immediately learn of his importance.
Journalist Neil Strauss got one of the last truly in-depth interviews with Berry. His interactions with the guitar legend are captured in Strauss’s 2010 book Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead: Journeys into Fame and Madness. While Berry did give short interviews in the last years of his life, they were — for the most part — limited to quick chats. Not many people got invited into his home to spend significant amounts of time like Strauss did.
Then, yesterday, hard rockers mourned the 35th anniversary of the death of Randy Rhoads. The guitar phenom had started in Quiet Riot before really making his mark in Ozzy Osbourne’s band. He was on tour when a plane crash tragically took his life, as well as that of makeup artist Rachel Youngblood.
Perhaps the best look at this tragedy (certainly the most impassioned and heartfelt one) was Rudy Sarzo’s Off the Rails. Bass player to virtually everyone, Sarzo was in Osbourne’s band at the time and was there, on the scene, the day of the tragedy.
Both books are well worth checking out and serve as a reminder that we should cherish our idols while we have them.