I came to a realization after meeting Zakk Wylde on Feb. 5, 2007. After asking me to pull up a chair and hang out with him I decided what I wanted to do with my life. I want to give the chance I recieved from him. I want to give an experience to fans to meet their heroes and inspirations. This site is kind of a tribute and appreciation for Zakk Wylde, although it praises all genres of music. He has inspired me to run with this dream and I won’t quit this marathon. Thank you Zakk and all other musicians out there. This site is because of you. -Matt
Read my non-fiction story below, meeting Zakk and my favorite instances I have heard about him. (citations being fixed)
I sat sideways at the Hard Rock Café in Phoenix. I teetered slightly in my chair, just enough not to fall over while I contemplated my decision.
“You have to go and talk to him,” Austin said.
“I kno…know,” I slurred. “I want to.”
It’s Monday, February 5, 2007. I skipped my first exam for this so I couldn’t wuss out. My head was clouded and spinning. The Blue Moon hadn’t given me this effect. It came from one of the hardest working rock and roll artists sitting a table away.
The alcohol had given me just enough courage to stand and walk up to him. He sat at the head of the table like King Arthur as his knights surrounded him. His wife, Barbaranne pointed out my shirt as I approached.
“Hey, Zakk. Isn’t that a tour shirt from ’93?” she said. It was a black Pride & Glory t-shirt. It had a gray picture of him playing guitar with his signature “bullseye” logo behind his silhouette.
“Man, I haven’t seen one of those in a long time.” He replied.
“How you…you…you doing?” I stuttered trying to grasp composure. “I think you’re an amazing guitar player…and…I just want to shake your hand.”
“Well, thanks man.” He said while shaking my hand.
“Ok…um…have a great night,” I said nervously turning to leave. “Thanks for meeting me.”
He grabs the sleeve of my shirt and says, “What?! Where are you going? Pull up a chair!”
Zakk Wylde is the mastermind behind Ozzy Osbourne. He obtained the chance at nineteen to audition as Ozzy’s guitarist after Randy Rhoads had passed away in a horrific plane accident. Wylde isn’t just the mastermind behind Ozzy though. Zakk Wylde skillfully juggles his time to accomplish anything thrown at him. Zakk has produced musical scores and albums, acted in motion pictures and sitcoms, tours with his own band and Ozzy, all while pulling a few pranks and punches along the way. Yet he still finds the time to father a family and humble his fans like myself.
Zakk is big, 6 foot 2. Besides playing guitar his skills include throwing back beers and pumping iron. He has long blonde hair underneath his black leather bandana. A long beard, braided into two long strands hung over a faded dark gray tour shirt from his band, Black Label Society. The shirt sleeves were ripped off. A black Red Monkey leather vest draped over the worn tour shirt. A Black Red Monkey three strap, black leather band covered his wrist. Black jeans and black boots completed his attire. He looks like a member of ZZ Top or a biker.
I quickly seized the closest chair and fumbled with it at the table a few seats down from him. He waved and told me to pull the chair next to him. When I sat I tried catching my breathe. After, I focused on something on the table to help stop the uncontrollable shaking and trembling.
“Are you okay?” Zakk asks and puts a hand on my shoulder.
“Ummm…yeah.” I somehow force out. “It’s just…it’s you.”
“You need to breathe,” he told me.
“I’m…trying,” I say while still breathing heavy. “I think you’re amazing, everything you do…I am in aw of you! I just have so much respect for you… You are beyond my favorite guitar player…and you have so much faith in God.”
“Thanks,” he said, “it’s true though, not one of us would be here without God.”
I am not the most religious person in the world. However, I do have a good deal of faith in God. I have a lot admiration for a musician that has faith in God. Zakk is Ozzy’s guitarist. The same Ozzy that bit the head off of a bat and a dove. Ozzy, the person who people believed he worshipped Satan; which is far from the truth.
A couple years ago, rumors arose of Scott Stapp, the lead singer for Creed, denied being a Christian. Zakk said, “What so wrong with having a belief in God?” (Mag. 1). “I go in [the studio] with a guitar, beer, and God and come out with an album.” (Mag. 2). His band, Black Label Society, and his fans live by “S.D.M.F.”, strength, determination, merciless, forever. Zakk also refers to the four word motto having to do with “Father, Son, Holy-Spirit” (Audio, 1).
My overwhelming stare obviously made him nervous as he continued cutting his steak.
“You hungry?” He asked as he jabs my side with his elbow.
“Oh…no!” I reply closing my jaw. “I ate a burger before.”
While he ate he told me “You know, Randy, The Boss [Ozzy], and others have paved the road for me.” He feels he can’t take all the credit.
Ironically, right before meeting him he had silenced the Hard Rock when Ozzy’s music video Crazy Train came on. He bought everyone old enough a double shot of Crown to toast to the late Randy Rhoads, the guitarist who influenced him.
Wylde has many influences that have helped him craft his own sound. He listened and was influenced by Eddie Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, the Allman Brothers, Elton John, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and much more. However, the people that have influenced him the most was Black Sabbath, and the Ozzy Osbourne Band. Tony Iommi, Sabbath’s guitarist “laid the template, the foundation, the ground work for everybody (Video 1). Of course, Randy. Zakk tells himself, “Keep playing asshole, you will never be as good as Randy.”(Mag. 3).
Ozzy created heavy metal. He is the Prince of Darkness. And Zakk is still grateful and has the utmost respect for Ozzy and the opportunity to play with him.
“I don’t like Ozzy. I love him. Beyond forever, unconditional. He could do anything and I will always be there for him. It’s not about the money. It has nothing to do with anything…I’m always in. I worship the ground he walks on. He’s got the biggest heart of gold. He’s the greatest. Him and my dad are the greatest guys ever…Sharon and Ozz are like my mom and dad…My job is to take care of them…I love that role. That’s what Black Label is all about, it’s family.” (video 2).
Zakk Wylde is all about family and his influences have touched him so much that he named his boys after them. Zakk Wylde and his wife Barbaranne have three children. The daughter, Hayley-Rae, is the only one not named after a major influence. Their son Jesse John Michael is named after Ozzy; Ozzy’s real name is John Michael. Their other son Hendrix Halen Michael Rhoads is named after Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, Mike Piazza, and Randy Rhoads. Mike Piazza being the only one not a musician, but Zakk’s good friend.
As Zakk munched on his steak I eased in on a conversation with his wife Barbaranne. She was talking to a younger boy and his father about her son and his inspirations. As she is talking Zakk groans.
“Oh no!” Zakk said as he rolled his eyes, “Not again!”
He didn’t seem to enjoy the topic they had touched upon for some reason. I continued to listen though to Barbaranne though as Zakk tells me he has to empty his bladder before he explodes. A couple minutes later, he comes back yanking up his pants as if he lost fifty pounds and plops back down into his chair. I ask him if he really wants his son to play guitar.
“I really don’t care.” Zakk replies, “I will support him in whatever he wants to do.”
On Black Label Society’s DVD The European Invasion, there is extra scenes of Zakk working out with this toddler son, Hendrix. He reinforces his family nature every chance he can get. Included in his old DVD he plays a song called I Thank You Child with his daughter Hayley-Rae whom he wrote it for. He says he takes the kids on tour with him sometimes and makes them work.
After finishing up his steak Zakk looks down. Sat just to the right of him was a gargantuan piece of chocolate cake, or so I remember.
“You kidding me!” Zakk said in an off pitch voice.
He takes two bites from the cake and pushes it to me.
While still chewing he manages to spit out, “Want some?”
I told him no thanks and ask him what he has been up to. We began chatting about his upcoming tour with Ozzy. He talked about the tour into Russia and Europe. Then he explained how he was going to help Ozzy produce and write a new record. In a high pitched complaining tone he forced out his best Ozzy Osbourne impression. The impression sounded roughly dead on. Zakk is known around the music industry for being funny and pulling pranks.
On a radio news show, Zakk talks to the host about the tour in Russia and makes fun of Ozzy.
“Ozzy tells me, ‘Okay Zakk, we’ll start off with one [song] and then do another tomorrow, and we’ll slowly build up from there.’” Wylde imitates in the old Ozzy voice. “So I tell him, ‘Come on Ozz, don’t be a wuss man. You act like your sixty years.’ ‘BUT I AM SIXTY YEARS OLD! THAT’S NOT COOL!’ ”.
He likes to enjoy himself with the attendance of Ozzy. At one point while the Ozzy Osbourne band sat down at a restaurant for dinner Zakk gets up from the table to use the restroom. As he is there he takes the cork from the wine they were drinking and runs it along the crease of his butt and returns to the table. He then calls the waiter over to tell him how bad the cork smells. The waiter smells the cork with a terrible face and tells them “No charge for wine!” (Book, 1).
On various television shows Zakk has been known to crack jokes as well. On the Tonight Show, Mitch Fatel parades around Ozzfest interviewing fans and artists. He ends up playing the board game Candyland with Zakk Wylde. When Mitch wins Zakk flips out and yells, “GET OUT! GET OUT! NO ONE TAKES ME DOWN AT CANDYLAND EVER!” (video 4). On MTV’s Headbangers Ball he moons the camera when they ask him a question. He sat in on the Jimmy Kimmel Show with the band in 2003. Jimmy asks him, “How did you get hooked up with Ozzy…?” Zakk replies, “I was his drug dealer when I was nineteen!” (video 5).
In the magazine Guitar Player, he jokes around again with beginning with Ozzy at the audition. Jude Gold asks him, “What did he say after you played?” Zakk said, “He told me, ‘Just play with your heart—that’s all you gotta do—and you’ll be fine. By the way, change your pants!’” (Mag. 4). He also has been known to teach video lessons for guitar magazines. One issue he decides to play his lesson horribly. The tone and the notes with the guitar stray so far away from the actual lesson. He can’t help laughing half way through because of how bad it is (video 6).
Zakk Wylde also created a DVD called Crapshoot. It stars himself and Jim Breuer from Saturday Night Live. The DVD consists of bad acting, pranks, and breaking god knows what. At the end Zakk plays a comedic piano song about his wife cheating on him (DVD 1).
Out of the corner of my eye I see a blue and black guitar. As I glance over my shoulder a man stands near and asks Zakk to sign the guitar. The guitar is made by Dean. It is a replica of Dimebag’s guitar, Zakk’s deceased friend. The guitar is the shaped in similar to a pointed axe. It is blue near the bottom of the body and black at the top. Lightning bolts glow and stretch across the blue and black sections. An old Kiss (the band) sticker is placed right behind the bridge of the guitar. Dime or Dimebag was the lead guitarist for the extremely successful metal band Pantera. He and Zakk had toured together early in their careers building a brother-ship bond. On December 8, 2004, Darrell “Dimebag” Abbott was brutally murdered at a concert in front of hundreds of his fans in Columbus, Ohio.
Zakk said this before he died, “The first time I heard Pantera, I thought, Jesus Christ! I still think that, to this day, Pantera is the heaviest fuckin’ band on the planet, but it’s not just heavy for the sake of bein’ heavy; it’s got groove to it, and it’s pure musicianship at the same time. And what I’d say about Dime is, you can’t get that good unless you work at it. You can tell he put the hours in and practice in, and drew from so many of the great players. You surround yourself with greatness—the Randy Rhoadses, the Van Halens, the Tony Iommis—and you’ll be in the right ballpark. Or the right zip code anyway!” (Mag 5).
“Sure bud,” Zakk said while taking the guitar. He wrote something along the lines of “Dime, we miss you brother. – Zakk Wylde 02x05x07”.
Zakk Wylde dedicated his band’s song In This River for Dimebag. He says that the song will never leave the set at their concerts. It wasn’t originally written for Darrell Abbott, but Zakk said that the song was fitting for Dimebag.
Zakk gave the fan a hug had a brief conversation and sat back down. Zakk talked about the later album Black Rain and he was anxious was to start writing with Ozzy again. We discussed how much he has to juggle his work to get things done.
Wylde starred in major motion picture Rock Star. He played as Ghode in the band Steel Dragon. The songs used in the film were produced by Zakk Wylde and other successful musicians. Wylde has also written and produced music scores for ESPN. He has acted in the television series Angel playing an acoustic guitar as other actors sing.
Another acting opportunity gave him the chance to play as himself on the cartoon comedy Aqua Teen Hunger Force on Cartoon Network. He wrote a new ‘birthday’ song for Master Shake (character) which is supposed to become the next big thing. The birthday song is called “Spirit Journey Formation Anniversary” and Zakk gets upset not getting paid for the song. Later in the cartoon Zakk gets killed by mechanical banjo playing scorpions.
A bump in my chair made me adjust to let another fan ask Zakk a question. He wanted to know if he could get an autograph so I decided to give someone else a chance to talk to him.
“Sorry,” I said standing up to move, “I’ll get out of the way.”
“You’re good,” Zakk said while pushing me down into my seat, “I’ll move.”
Zakk stood up walked past me and signed the hat. He explained how much respect for aspiring musicians. He then sat back and stretch as a long arm grabs his shoulder. His manager needed him for another shoot.
I slowly got up from the table and shook his Barbaranne’s hand. I told her it was nice meeting her and good luck with the kids. I gestured to Austin to leave, picked up my bag and glanced back at the Hard Rock as we walked out. Then I step out onto the normal sidewalk and strutted away from the best day of my life. I have left leaving with so much more respect for the humble, hardest working musician.