Randy Rhoads: Hollywood Knights
GW Could Randy hold his own in a fight?
GARNI Randy was a hell of a fighter, and I should know: I fought him a whole lot of times. He was small, but he was fast, and he had really strong, solid arms. He was all muscle. I attribute that to years and years of carrying amps.
GW What was the worst fight you two ever had?
GARNI That would be the one that led to me not being in Quiet Riot anymore. One night, I stole a huge amount of liquor from the Rocket Club in Hollywood, which had caught on fire. The next day I called Randy and said, “Hey, I got all this booze. Come on over.” So he comes over with a good friend of ours named Ken McNair. It was maybe one or two in the afternoon. We started drinking, emptying bottles. We drank way too much and got very, very drunk. Then Randy and I started arguing about Kevin DuBrow, the lead singer in Quiet Riot. It’s no secret that I was very unhappy in Quiet Riot at that time because of Kevin. So, totally drunk, I start telling Randy, “Kevin’s gotta go. He’s an asshole. This used to be our band and he’s taken over. Everybody says he sucks. We’re not going anywhere and it’s all his fault.” And Randy says, “No, we have to keep him. He’s gotten us this far.” We were right in the middle of recording our second album. In fact, as Randy and I were arguing, Kevin was at the Record Plant in Hollywood, recording vocals.
So it gets to be about eight at night. We’ve been drinking all day—and Randy could drink. I’m saying, “Kevin’s kicked out of the band.” Randy’s saying, “No, he’s not.” And I say, “Then get out of my house!” He says, “Make me!”
At this point, he was sitting across the room from me on a couch with Ken. Unfortunately, back then, I was very into guns. I had a handgun in the chair where I was sitting. I pulled out the handgun and fired a shot over Randy’s head. Now, where I lived in Van Nuys, in the middle of the barrio, shooting off a gun didn’t cause anybody any alarm. You heard guns going off all the time. But it was a really big deal to Randy. It made him really mad that I’d shot at him. He got off the couch and charged me. I knew there was gonna be a fistfight over this, so I threw the gun to the side, ’cause I knew I didn’t want that in the fight.
And we just went at it. We beat the hell out of one another. Randy had a long fingernail on his thumb. He raked that across my forehead and opened up my whole head from temple to temple. Blood just poured out of the cut. That got me real mad. I wailed into him and pretty much beat him damn-near unconscious. Ken finally got us separated, dragged Randy into a car and got him out of there.
GW What was with Randy and that thumbnail? It’s often mentioned in stories about him. Did he use it to pick the guitar?
GARNI The nail was on there for a lot of reasons. Yes, he did use it for guitar a little bit, but mainly he just liked the way it looked. We grew up with bands like the New York Dolls and Alice Cooper, and those guys all did things like growing their nails long. Effeminate stuff. Randy had certain feminine qualities in that he wasn’t really a macho guy. Some people say, “Oh, he grew that nail so he could use it for cocaine.” That’s ridiculous. The pinkie is the nail you grow if you’re gonna use it for cocaine. It’s pretty hard to turn your thumb in such a way as to get a load of cocaine on it; the wrist angle is all wrong. So that theory goes to hell in a handcart.
And by the way, I still have that thumbnail of Randy’s. He busted the nail off when it raked it across my head. My girlfriend and I found it in the house next day. I’ve saved it all these years. It’s kinda spooky.
GW Wow, so you almost murdered Randy Rhoads.
GARNI I know. But that’s not the end of the story. After Ken got Randy out of my house, I felt real bad that we had gotten into a fight. And to my drunken mind, the whole thing was Kevin’s fault. So I was gonna make him pay. I called him up at the Record Plant and said, “I’m coming down there. I’m gonna fuckin’ kill ya. I got a gun. I’m on my way.” [DuBrow says he never received this phone call.] So I took my gun in a shoulder holster, put my jacket on, went outside and got in my car totally bombed. I’d only gone 50 feet before I realized that I was way too drunk to drive. I somehow managed to get the car around the block and get back to my house. But by the time I pulled up to the curb, the LAPD was right behind me with their lights flashing. I stumbled out of my car, opened up my jacket. Next thing I knew I was face down on the ground, handcuffed, with a bunch of guns pointed at me. I woke up the next day in jail with a terrible hangover, charged with three felonies. The day after that, Quiet Riot’s management called me and told me I was out of the band.
GW Did you and Randy fall out over this?
GARNI Not at all. He called me up the next day. He thought it was funny. It was always that way. If we got into a fight, the next day everything was fine. We would laugh about it. What wasn’t so funny this time is that I was kicked out of the band. Randy even said, “If you ask me to, I’ll leave too. I don’t want to, but we’ve been together all these years. We did start this band. I’d rather play with you than anybody else.” But I told him, “You know what? I don’t even want to do this any more.” I had grown tired of the whole thing. I’d had enough of Kevin, Hollywood, struggling with the band and not getting anywhere. The funny thing is that Kevin and I are now good friends. We often joke that we’re gonna clone Randy using DNA from his thumbnail and start Quiet Riot again. But that fight has had all kinds of long-range effects in my life. Years later, the first time I met Ozzy Osbourne, he tried to come at me over it.
GW When was this?
GARNI When Randy came through Las Vegas on his first tour with Ozzy. I met Randy down at Caesar’s Palace. Ozzy and the whole band were down there. Randy introduced me to Ozzy, and the first thing he said to me was, “You’re the son of a bitch that tried to shoot my guitar player!” And he got up like he was gonna make a move on me. Only he was too drunk to do it. These two big roadies had to help him get up. I just stood there; I didn’t know what to do. With the roadies there, I was really outnumbered. But Randy just shoved Ozzy back on his barstool and said, “No, no, no. He’s my best friend. You don’t do that.”
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