|Born||July 2, 1945|
|Origin||Pennsylvania, United States|
|Genres||Hard rock, heavy metal, acid rock, psychedelic rock, blues rock|
|Years active||1959–70, 1993–present|
|Associated acts||Blue Cheer, Population II, The Other Half, The Sons of Adam, The Iridescents, The Fender IV|
Randy Holden (born July 2, 1945) is a guitarist best known for his involvement with the West Coast blues rock group Blue Cheer on their third album, New! Improved! (1969). Additionally, he is a painter as well.
Randy Holden was born in Pennsylvania and grew up on the move. He played in a number of bands including The Iridescents (blues rock), The Fender IV (surf rock) and the Sons of Adam (surf rock/psychedelic rock). Holden relocated the Fender IV from Baltimore, Maryland to Southern California and they eventually became the Sons of Adam. While playing in the Sons of Adam Holden opened for the Rolling Stones at their first show at the Long Beach Sports Arena. Holden was heavily influenced by Keith Richards' guitar and amp set up which helped change his own attitude towards equipment and tone. The Sons of Adam (specifically Holden) began experimenting with distortion and feedback which pushed into psychedelic rock. Holden left the band frustrated with the lack of original material.
Holden joined up with The Other Half, a psychedelic garage band from Los Angeles. They recorded one album together before Holden parted ways. He then replaced Leigh Stephens in Blue Cheer and appeared on one side of the album New! Improved! Blue Cheer (1969). Holden toured with Blue Cheer for an entire year before once again parting ways.
Frustrated with lack of control over the bands, Randy formed his next new band with drummer Chris Lockheed. Lockheed, also a keyboard player, uniquely played both drums and keyboard simultaneously in live performances. During this time Holden obtained a sponsorship deal with Sunn amplifiers. Through this he received his legendary sixteen 200 Watt amplifiers. His new band was dubbed "Randy Holden - Population II" which was a reference to the fact there were only two members in the band as well as being an astronomical term "Population II" that defines a special kind of Star Group cluster type, having Heavy Metal in its composition. An appropriate description for the original style of the music attributed to Holden's new band. The band recorded its only album, Population II (1970). Trouble with the release of the album led to Holden going bankrupt, losing all his equipment and his departure from music for over two decades. Population II was eventually released multiple times in bootleg forms over the years, with no official re-release until a limited issue in LP in 2005 and finally a remastered CD in 2008. The album has become a much-sought after collectors' item over the years. After more than two decades he returned to his guitar, and began creating music again, reportedly at the continual urging of a loyal fan. He recorded Guitar God in 1994 and released Guitar God 2001 in 2001, followed in 2008 with the release of "Raptor".
In 2008 Richie Unterberger said "He's a good candidate for selection as the great unknown 1960s rock guitar hero. No other American guitarist was as skilled at creating the kind of sustain-heavy, snaky guitar lines pioneered by Jeff Beck in the Yardbirds. His recordings with the Fender IV, Sons of Adam, Ugly Things The Other Half, Blue Cheer and as a solo artist don't only contain some feverishly innovative playing. They also chart the overall rainbow of changes undergone by California 1960s rock guitar as a whole, from surf to pseudo-Merseybeat to psychedelia, hard rock and heavy metal."
Randy is married to the beautiful, world renowned, American master artist, Ruth Mayer. His son, Marlon Holden, is a famous photographer.
The Fender IV
- Mar Gaya/You Better Tell Me Now (1964)
- Malibu Run/Everybody Up (1965)
- Fender IV: Surf 101 - Live (2016) (DVD)
Sons of Adam
- Take My Hand/Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day
- Mister, You're A Better Man Than I/Saturday's Son
- Without Love
- I Told You Once Before
- You Make Me Feel Good
The Other Half
- The Other Half (1968)
- New! Improved! (1969)
- Population II (1970)
- Unreleased album (1969–1970)
Touch of Heaven (collaborative project with opera singer Jaclyn Guthrie)
- Visions of You (2010)
- Guitar God (1996)
- Guitar God 2001 (2001)
- Surf Guitar God 1963/2001 (2007) (Fender IV compilation plus new music)
- Raptor (2008)
- Psychedelic Blue (2015)
- Biography at randyholden.com
- Sons of Adam - Saturday's Son (1966)
- Ugly Things
- Perfect Sound Forever interview with Randy Holden
- Richie Unterberger, Urban Spacemen and Wayfaring Strangers: Overlooked Innovators and Eccentric Visionaries of '60s Rock. Backbeat Books, 2000; Softcover Edition Miller Freeman Books, 2008, p. 68.