The plane Rhoads was in clipped Osbourne’s tour bus and crashed into the plane owner’s house. The three passengers in the aircraft — Rhoads, Andrew Aycock and Rachel Youngblood — were killed instantly.
“I am a thousand percent convinced that Randy saved everybody in Ozzy’s tour bus, keeping the plane from crashing into us,” Sarzo recently told Metal Radar. “It clipped the bus, but it did not crash [directly] into the bus, and if that had happened, we would all have perished along with Randy and the others in the plane.”
Sarzo, Osbourne, Osbourne’s wife and manager Sharon (who was then his fiancee) and other band members were asleep on the bus when Aycock, the bus driver who had an expired pilot’s license, took Rhoads and Youngblood on a joyride in a 1955 Beechcraft Bonanza belonging to Jerry Calhoun.
They buzzed the bus a few times and went for another pass when they hit the vehicle, spun out of control, hit a tree and then slammed into the house, where the plane became engulfed in flames.
This isn’t the first time Sarzo has said he’s convinced Rhoads saved everyone else’s lives that day. In a 2011 interview with NJ.com, he talked about dealing with his grief over the guitarist’s death. “You’re grieving and you learn to live with the passing of your friend,” he said. “Somebody who I owe my career to, someone who saved our lives by turning the plane from actually completely crashing into the bus where we were sleeping, and just clipping the bus instead.”
At the time, Sarzo had just joined Osbourne’s band prior to the Diary of a Madman tour following the departure of Bob Daisley. He had previously worked with Rhoads in Quiet Riot, which is how Sarzo got the job.
“Ozzy was about 10 days away from going on the road,” Sarzo recalled. “They were in Los Angeles looking for a bass player. Not only a person that could play those songs, because there were many qualified musicians who could do that, but they needed somebody they could trust. I had already worked with Randy in Quiet Riot, so he told Sharon, ‘Listen, Rudy is the perfect guy because he’s not going to be a bad influence on Ozzy. He looks good, he’s reliable and he’s going to be somebody decent to hang with in the bus.’”
Sarzo noted that Rhoads trusted him and “put his reputation with Sharon and Ozzy on the line to bring me in. That’s how I got in, because I had no track record. Ozzy and Sharon brought me in and I was able to build a career from that, and I am eternally grateful both to them and to Randy.”
The guitarist, who now plays with the Guess Who, said in 2016 that he left Osbourne’s band and returned to Quiet Riot shortly after the crash “because it was too painful to go onto stage every night without Randy being there. We didn’t have time to mourn. We went back on the road maybe a week and a half after going back to L.A., not only to rehearse and audition the new guitar player, but also to attend the memorial services and funerals for Randy and Rachel. It was incredibly painful.
“I wanted to have joy in my playing again. It was so painful to go onstage without Randy, so I just left one of the biggest bands in the world for nothing, no promises, no nothing, just so I could enjoy playing again.”