Castillo, Randy

Randolpho Francisco Castillo ~ Albuquerque

Randy Castillo Castillo (December 18, 1950 – March 26, 2002) was best known as Ozzy Osbourne’s drummer during the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, and later as drummer for Mötley Crüe, from 1999 to his death from cancer in 2002.

Randy was born to a Spanish/French/Native American mother, Margaret, and Native American/Hispanic father Frank (Kiko). He was one of five children, and his sisters, Frances, Marilyn, Phyllis and Christine, all play music. His first band experience was at West Mesa High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, playing in the jazz band, orchestra and marching band. He wrote the high school cadence that is still being used to this day. He played trumpet for a short time then realized his passion was the drums. He decided he wanted a drum kit instead, especially after seeing The Beatles play on The Ed Sullivan Show in early February 1964. However, his father refused to buy him one, thinking he would only lose interest, as he had already done with the trumpet.

When he was 18, Castillo played in a band called The Tabbs, who wore mustard coloured Nehru jackets on stage. On 18 June 1970, exactly three months before Jimi Hendrix died, he snuck into one of Hendrix’s concerts and hid under the stage to get a closer look. After leaving The Tabbs, he then played with The Mudd and began heavy drug use, including mescaline, peyote and heroin. The band’s lead singer, Tommy G, died of kidney failure, which Castillo blamed on Tommy’s addiction to heroin. This caused him to shy away from using the drug again.

He joined his first rock band, The Wumblies (originally called Cottonmouth), in the late ’70s and he moved to Espanola where they predominantly played covers of songs by Yes, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Jethro Tull at as many gigs as possible, including high school proms. He first experienced life on the road with The Wumblies as they toured around America, playing four 45-minute sets per night in clubs. Castillo became an instant drumming icon in all cities toured. The band moved to Denver, Colorado where they fell apart in 1980; a year later, his father Frank died at age 51.

In 1980, Castillo recorded an LP with a band called The Offenders. The band also featured Randy Rand of Autograph and Glenn Sherba of Badfinger.

Realizing he had to move to Los Angeles if he wanted to make it big, he made the transition in 1981 with Albuquerque-bred guitarist Tim Pierce and they rented a run-down room together in Hollywood at the Montecito on Franklin Avenue. Having endured enough of the local hookers and transvestites, they moved out and Castillo began living in his pick-up truck. On the recommendation of another former Albuquerque musician, singer/songwriter Michael Goodroe, he joined pop band The Motels, whom Goodroe played bass for, when their drummer fell sick with a heart condition just as they were about to go on tour. Castillo embarked on his first major arena tour with The Motels in support of The Cars.

For the better part of 1982 Castillo was a member of the Chicago-based band USSA which also featured former Cheap Trick member Pete Comita on guitar, ex-Montrose vocalist Bob James as well as former Oak Park, IL based band Off Broadway front man / vocalist Cliff Johnson, ex-Wumblies bassist Rick Wilson, and former Pezband guitarist Tommy Gawenda. USSA gigged in and around Chicago, sharing Cheap Trick’s manager Ken Adamany. While no studio recordings of USSA are in circulation, a live recording dating from June 1982 has surfaced and can be heard on YouTube.

In 1984, Castillo was hired to play drums for Lita Ford and was featured on her Dancin’ On The Edge album. Ford introduced Castillo to her boyfriend, Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx, and Nikki’s bandmate Tommy Lee. Shortly after the “Dancin’ on the Edge” tour, Lee called Castillo from a party he was at with Ozzy Osbourne and told him Ozzy was looking for a new drummer. Despite being unable to audition right away due to a broken leg he suffered while skiing, Castillo was hired by Osbourne a couple months later and ended up staying with the Ozzy Osbourne band for ten years, recording five albums with Ozzy during that time. These were The Ultimate Sin (1986), No Rest for the Wicked (1988), an EP entitled Just Say Ozzy (1990), No More Tears (1991), and a double-disc live album, Live & Loud (1993).

After recording Ozzy’s live album in 1993, he joined the short-lived Bone Angels, followed by Red Square Black. Castillo also briefly returned to Osbourne’s band in 1995 for a tour, and played drums on several tribute albums during this time. He played with Ronnie James Dio on a cover of Alice Cooper’s “Welcome To My Nightmare” on the Alice Cooper tribute album “Welcome To The Nightmare (An All Star Tribute To Alice Cooper) ” and performed all drumming duties on a star-studded Def Leppard tribute album titled Leppardmania. The album featured John Corabi (Angora, The Scream, Mötley Crüe), Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt, Quiet Riot), Kevin DuBrow (Quiet Riot), Joe Leste (Bang Tango), and Jani Lane (Warrant, solo artist), among others. Guitar and bass duties were handled by Jerry Dixon and Erik Turner of Warrant, and Tracii Guns of L.A. Guns.

In 1999, after Tommy Lee had left Mötley Crüe, Sharon Osbourne called Castillo and told him about the job opening. Mötley Crüe gave him the job without an audition. He’d previously briefly played with Vince Neil as a touring drummer for the Vince Neil Band, and was an old friend of the band. His only recording with the band, 2000’s New Tattoo, was somewhat of a return to the classic Mötley Crüe sound. However, fan reaction was mixed and the album was not as successful as the band was hoping it would be. Still, there was excitement over the upcoming tour due to the revival in interest of many ’80s hard rock acts, and the band geared up for their “Maximum Rock” tour with thrash metal legends Anthrax and Megadeth.

A couple of weeks before Mötley Crüe was set to tour the New Tattoo album, Castillo became ill while performing with his mariachi side project Azul at the Cat Club in Hollywood. Immediately after the show Castillo took a cab to nearby Cedars Sinai Hospital where he collapsed as he was being admitted. The doctors discovered a duodenal ulcer that had ruptured his stomach and performed emergency surgery that saved Castillo’s life. While taking time off from Mötley Crüe to recover from his surgery, he discovered a small lump on his jaw and a month later, after it had grown to roughly the size of a golf ball, he sought treatment and was diagnosed with Squamous cell Carcinoma, a common form of cancer that is not usually fatal if it is discovered early but can spread rapidly if left untreated. The cancer went into remission in mid-2001, and he was rumored to be rejoining Osbourne’s solo band for that summer Ozzfest tour (along with Geezer Butler on bass), though these rumors were later revealed to be untrue.

Within a few months the cancer returned, and a few days after returning to the doctors, Castillo died on March 26, 2002. He was 51 years old. During the final weeks of his life, Castillo had been working with ex-Ozzy Osbourne and Alice in Chains bassist Mike Inez on a new band and was in the process of hiring a singer.

above: Randy Castillo solo with Ozzy Osbourne, 1992.

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