ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — West Mesa High School’s Performing Arts Center may soon be named after acclaimed rock drummer Randy Castillo, a school alumnus who died of cancer in 2002.
Castillo played drums for musicians including Ozzy Osbourne, the band Mötley Crüe and Lita Ford, and was known for his drumming skills and likable personality.
Albuquerque Public Schools spokeswoman Johanna King said an APS school board committee has recommended approval of a proposal to name the performing arts center after Castillo. The recommendation goes before the full board on June 6.
Castillo’s sister, Christine Castillo, a teacher at Manzano High School, said the drummer’s family began a campaign about two years ago to have him honored.
“We thought what a great thing it would be to name the center after a member of the first West Mesa High graduating class, in 1968, who was all about performing,” she said in an interview with the Journal. “It’s also really great that a guy from the West Side of Albuquerque can make it.”
The second of five children and the only boy born to a mariachi musician and a musical mother, Randy Castillo began playing drums on his elementary school marching band, Christine Castillo said. But it wasn’t until he got to West Mesa High that he really began to blossom as a musician, she added.
Randy began his meteoric professional rise after he joined his first professional band, The Wumblies, in the late 1960s. In the early ’70s, he moved to Los Angeles and played for groups such as The Mudd before he joined Lita Ford in 1984 for her album, “Dancin’ on the Edge,” Christine Castillo said.
Not long after, Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee introduced Randy Castillo to Ozzy Osbourne, who invited Randy to play during the band’s Live and Loud Tour in 1993. Castillo played with Osbourne for 10 years, recording five albums with the band, including a double disc live album, “Live and Loud,” in 1993. He later played for Mötley Crüe.
Though he played for Ozzy and Mötley Crüe, bands with hard partying reputations, Castillo didn’t let that define him, Christine Castillo said.
“What defined him was his ability as a musician and his work ethic to get there as a top drummer,” she said.
Randy Castillo was also a painter, who would often give his pieces to friends or fans, she said.
The musician gained fans for not only his drumming style and ability, but for his amiable, approachable personality, Christine Castillo said, adding that he never forgot his hometown roots.
“He was extremely approachable; he never got a big head about what he did,” she said.
Christine, who plays drums for a faculty band at Manzano High, said her brother taught her to play.
“Whenever I play, I try to play through his spirit,” she said.
After being diagnosed with cancer in May 2000, Castillo withstood several months of aggressive radiation and chemotherapeutic treatment. In a May 2000 online interview, Randy Castillo described his treatment as “living hell” but expressed the belief he would overcome the disease, displaying a personal courage and conviction that marked how he lived his life, Christine Castillo said.
“It’s taught me a lot about myself, about how deep you can go to find the strength, and I’ve got it,” Randy is quoted saying. “I’m concerned with the light at the end of the tunnel and I can see it … I gotta rock again.”
Castillo died in his sleep at home on March 26, 2002. He was 51.