Randy Rhoads: The Passing of a Legend
Guest Post by Michael Brenner
Tribute to a Legend
To acknowledge the passing of a legend, I decided to visit the location of Randy Rhoads final moments outside of Leesburg, Florida at the remote estate of Jerry Calhoun. Jerry is the owner of “Entertainment Coaches of America, Inc.” formally known as “Florida Coach”.
This is a gated community and normally closed off to the public, but I did drive onto the property that is lined with tour buses, aircraft, and a small airstrip that changed the course of music history. As I made my way to the office, I notified the staff that I was writing an article for sharemyguitar.com and asked if I could speak with Mr. Calhoun about the accident.
Jerry invited me into his office where we discussed the events that occurred 30 years ago today. He stated that he was actually not at home when the accident occurred, but was deeply saddened when he learned that three people had lost their lives. He explained how and where the accident occurred and allowed me full access to the site. When asked if he ever planned to open a Randy Rhoads Monument to the public, he indicated that it had never been discussed, however, he seemed open to the possibility. Apparently, Peter Margolis has been on the property to film segments of the house for Dakota Films, but the status of the project is unknown at this time.
Where Heroes Fall
As I walked the airstrip and the property, it became a surreal event for me. The time was 8:00am. Exactly 30 years ago to the hour, on March. 19th 1982, the “Blizzard of Ozz” band arrived at the Calhoun property approximately 8:00am from an overnight drive from Knoxville, TN. The band was set to play at Orlando’s “Rock Super Bowl XIV”. The driver of the bus, Andrew Aycock, lived on the property and was also a pilot. He talked Keyboardist Don Airey into a test flight on a 1955 Beechcraft Bonanza. There may have been another occupant in the plane, but they did land safely. Unbeknownst to the band, Aycock’s medical certificate had expired making his pilot license invalid. It was around 9:00am when Rachel Youngblood, the band’s hairdresser, and Randy Rhoads climbed into the aircraft. The flight didn’t last long as the plane made three attempts to “buzz” the tour bus at low altitude. On the 4th attempt, Aycock clipped the left side of the bus spinning the plane through a pine tree and into the garage of the Calhoun home. The plane was flying at approximately 10 feet and 140mph to over 170 mph. All three passengers were killed on impact.
So there I stood, 30 years later to the moment. Saddened by the thoughts of what “might have been” had a young Randy Rhoads not walked down that airstrip and boarded that fateful plane. Reflecting on the very short career of someone I never met, but somehow changed the course of my life forever…it was surreal indeed.