Zakk Wylde (born Jeffrey Phillip Wielandt; January 14, 1967 in Bayonne, New Jersey) is an American musician, who is best known for his roles as a guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne and founder of heavy metal band Black Label Society. He was the lead guitarist and vocalist in Pride & Glory, who released one self-titled album in 1994 before disbanding. As a solo artist he released Book of Shadows in 1996.
Wylde started playing the guitar at the age of 14 and worked at Silverton Music in Silverton, New Jersey. He grew up in Jackson, New Jersey, and went to Jackson Memorial High School, where he graduated in 1985. Wylde has stated that he would practice playing the guitar as much as 12 hours per day and often would play the guitar almost non-stop between coming home from school and leaving for school the next morning, then sleeping through the school day.
Growing up, Wylde played locally with his first band, "Stone Henge", then later with local Jersey band Zyris. Years later, the then unknown 19 year-old Wylde landed the coveted role as lead guitarist and co-writer for Ozzy Osbourne. He sent Ozzy a demo tape in 1987 and was hired to replace Jake E. Lee. Jake E. Lee had replaced the deceased Randy Rhoads, Ozzy's principal guitarist in the post-Black Sabbath period, beginning in late 1979. Wylde has stated that he has no respect for musicians who release material "not true to themselves". The late Randy Rhoads, a rock original, remains Wylde's foremost guitar-playing and stagecraft influence.
Wylde gravitated toward a particular Les Paul guitar, which has become known as "The Grail"; his infamous bullseye-painted Gibson Les Paul custom. The guitar somehow became lost to Wylde for some time when it fell from the back of a truck transporting equipment as he was travelling between gigs in Texas. Rewards were offered to anyone that had information about the guitar. Wylde and 'The Grail' were reunited years later when a fan bought it at a Dallas pawn shop and saw the initials "Z.W." carved into the humbucker pickups backs. He contacted Wylde's former webmaster Randy Canis to arrange its return to Wylde. He was eventually able to barter for it, in exchange for two other Les Pauls.
Return to Ozzy
Osbourne is said to have always adopted a flexible attitude with regard to his backing band, leaving his band members free to leave as they wish, but Wylde has remained largely faithful to Osbourne. Wylde was replaced in Osbourne's band by Joe Holmes, from 1995 until his return in 2001.
On January 17, 2006, Zakk Wylde was immortalized at the Hollywood Rock Walk of Fame located at 7425 Sunset Blvd, featuring his handprints and signature, in recognition of his successful career as a musician and his contribution to the music industry. The event was open to the public and many rock celebrities were present, including Ozzy Osbourne.
Ozzy Osbourne held auditions for new guitarists for the recording of future material in 2005/2006, but announced Wylde as the official guitarist for his new album, Black Rain. On stage with Osbourne, Wylde has been credited for lending a high level of energy and passion to performances.
Black Label Society's most recent album, Shot To Hell, was released on September 11, 2006 in the UK, and September 12, 2006 in the U.S. through Roadrunner records, with production by Michael Beinhorn (Soundgarden, Ozzy Osbourne, Red Hot Chili Peppers). Black Label Society headlined the second stage at the 2006 Ozzfest, with Wylde playing double duty with Ozzy on certain dates. Ozzy Osbourne's album, Black Rain, was released in May 2007. Wylde is currently working a new film called The Berserkers, taking on responsibilities for script and production.
He is known for his use of Gibson Les Paul Custom model guitars with a "bulls-eye" graphic on them, a design he used to deliberately differentiate himself visually from Randy Rhoads - who was also frequently identified by his white Les Paul Custom. Interestingly, one of Wylde's favorite stage guitars of late is a replica of Rhoads' Flying V. The "bulls-eye" paint job was originally supposed to look like the spiral from the movie Vertigo, but when it came back incorrect from the luthier, he liked the result and stuck with it.
Wylde's signature Les Pauls include a red flame-maple bulls-eye model, a black and antique-white bulls-eye model, an orange "buzz-saw" model, the pattern on which was inspired by a design on a Zippo lighter , and a "camo" bulls-eye model with mother of pearl neck inlays and a green camouflage paint scheme. His original bulls-eye Les Paul was purchased from one of the owners of Metaltronics Amplification. Metaltronics was building a one-off live rig for Wylde that was designed around one of the owner's guitars, a creamy white Les Paul Custom with EMG pickups, which would later become known as "The Grail".
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Wylde and his wife, Barbaranne have three children; a daughter, Hayley-Rae, a son, Jesse John Michael (named after Ozzy Osbourne), and another son, Hendrix Halen Michael Rhoads (named after Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, Mike Piazza, and Randy Rhoads). He and his family live outside of Los Angeles. He and Barbaranne both attended Jackson Memorial High School in Jackson, New Jersey. Zakk was a close friend of Dimebag Darrell Abbott, founding member of Pantera and Damageplan, since 1993, exchanging guitars in admiration for one another as fellow guitarists. Wylde had given Dimebag one of his custom Gibson guitars with the trademark "bulls-eye" design on it shortly before Dimebag was shot and killed while performing in Columbus, OH on Dec. 8, 2004. Likewise, Dimebag had a customized Dean Razorback painted with the bullseye design for Wylde. Zakk dedicated the song "In This River" to Dimebag, citing that although the song wasn't originally written for him, the lyrics were fitting to the situation. The song gained a new importance and was changed from its original format during the live performances with the addition of more solos, with Zakk playing with the Dean Razorback guitar Dime had given him. He dedicates each live performance of the song to Dimebag and, several times, he has cried on stage when playing the song. He has also stated it will be played at every Black Label Society concert as long as he is touring. Zakk has stated in interviews that he hates bullies, and has said (quote) "If a man doesn't fuckin' bleed and he doesn't cry, you don't trust him. He ain't a fuckin' man." Zakk is Irish Catholic.
Appearances in media
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Wylde has made guest appearances on various albums, such as Damageplan's debut album, New Found Power, as guest vocalist and guitar on the tracks "Soul Bleed" and "Reborn, Dope, as solo guitar parts on their first single, "Addiction" from their newest album, No Regrets.
He has also worked on four of Derek Sherinian's solo albums: Inertia, Black Utopia, Mythology, Blood of the Snake and Molecular Heinosity alongside Yngwie Malmsteen and others.
Wylde was also a judge for the 8th annual Independent Music Awards. His contributions helped assist independent artists' careers.
On August 1, 1993, Wylde appeared on stage with the Allman Brothers on lead guitar since Dickey Betts was unable to make the show, and they needed a guitarist at the last minute. This show is documented on the bootleg "Zakk Goes Wylde".
Wylde is a New York Yankees fan. He performed the National Anthem on the electric guitar during a New York Rangers game in October 2005. He has also played the anthem at Los Angeles Kings and Dodgers games. A video of a Kings performance is included as an extra feature, on the DVD Boozed, Broozed, and Broken-Boned.
On February 1, 2007 Wylde and Nick Catanese began a tour of acoustic shows at the Hard Rock Cafe in various cities across North America. Although Catanese had to leave mid-tour due to unspecified personal reasons, Wylde continued to play shows alone. He performed several songs, on both the acoustic guitar and keyboard. The tour was eventually canceled due to unspecified reasons.
Film and television
Wylde's film credits include Rock Star (As "Ghode", guitarist of the fictitious band Steel Dragon) and the concert DVD Boozed, Broozed, and Broken-Boned (Certified Platinum), recorded at Harpo's Concert Theatre in Detroit, Michigan. It was the first time in the concert hall's history that all of the alcohol had been consumed on one night (Wylde's favorite beer is Sierra Nevada). It should be noted that his next concert DVD The European Invasion: Doom Troopin' was released in 2006. He has also done a comedy skit show alongside Jim Breuer, titled "Crapshoot", which is available on DVD.
Wylde also appeared on the TV show Angel in the season four episode "The Magic Bullet" where he plays acoustic on the song "Mandy" while Angel and Conner sing along.
Wylde has also appeared as a guest star on the TV show Aqua Teen Hunger Force. In it, he plays guitar on a track produced by Master Shake that is supposed to become the next big birthday song, which is called "Spirit Journey Formation Anniversary." Wylde becomes irate when he finds out that Shake cannot pay him for his input on the project. Later in the show, Wylde is killed when caught between the crossfire of two robotic banjo-playing scorpions that apparently were, for some reason, armed with laser cannons.
On September 26, 2003, Wylde appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and sat in with the house band. During the course of the night he repeatedly made fun of and threatened to beat up Fred Durst, the front man for Limp Bizkit.
On January 30, 2007, Wylde, alongside Black Label Society, were the musical guests for MTV's Wrestling Society X debut episode. He worked the night as a guest commentator as well.
On February 2, 2007, Wylde guest hosted on Seattle's 99.9 KISW on the afternoon program The Men's Room.
On the May 18 edition of WWE Smackdown!, Wylde appeared with Ozzy Osbourne to perform the song "I Don't Wanna Stop", at the First Mariner Arena in Baltimore, Maryland.
Wylde, with his Gibson Bullseye ZV guitar, performed alongside Osbourne on the 2007 VH1 Rock Honors broadcast (featuring tributes to and performances by ZZ Top, Heart, Genesis, and Osbourne).
WWESuperstar Chris Jericho's latest version of his intro song "Break the Walls Down" features Wylde's signature riffs and solo, making the song slower and more grinding than its previous versions.
Wylde recorded a guitar duel for the video game Guitar Hero: World Tour. He also appears as a playable character.
Some of Wylde's signature guitars have been for sale to play with throughout the Guitar Hero series.
357 Customs controversy and lawsuit
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In December 2005, a promotional offer was posted on Wylde's official webpage, stating that anyone who bought a $100 merchandise gift certificate and a miniature model of a chopper would receive an $800 Epiphone guitar. The offer was posted by custom chopper company 357 Customs, through the then webmaster of Wylde's webpage. On June 2, 2006, Bob Ringe, Wylde's manager, stated on the website that "357 Customs ran a promotion directed toward Zakk's fans, and 357 has not delivered merchandise ordered during the promotion. Zakk has not authorized or otherwise been involved with this promotion, and has not received any compensation from it." Ringe went on further to state that he has instructed his lawyers to "contact 357....monitor this situation and follow up with 357." During and after the timeframe in which the 357 Customs offers were being advertised, numerous conversations, both via email and telephone were held with then current and former members of Wylde's management team, including Tim Bolin and Bob Ringe, and also Wylde's wife, with all parties confirming and supporting the promotion. A number of statements, both from the webmaster and Wylde himself, posted on the webpage repeatedly stressed the legitimacy of the offer, and even went as far as placing blame on guitar maker Epiphone and electronics manufacturer EMG for the shipping delays. No order had ever been placed and these statements seemed to be offered as a means of placating the increasingly concerned customers. Several telephone conversations were reportedly recorded of staff from 357 and Wylde's management staff confirming the promotion but no longer exist.
On June 14, 2006, Wylde's attorneys filed suit against 357 Customs Inc. in the Superior Court of the State of California. The suit alleges trademark infringement, false designation of origin, unfair competition, false advertising, breach of contract, as well as several other counts. The text of the lawsuit indicates that it was brought about to prevent any further victimization of Wylde's fans and to recoup unpaid royalties from 357 Customs. There is nothing in the suit indicating specific damages to be recovered on behalf of fans.
On 2006, Black Label Society's webmaster, Chad Dyer, resigned from the website. He admitted being hired by 357 Customs as their webmaster and claimed that he wasn't aware of the conflict of interest. To this date, reports are that he has not been paid for the work on 357customs.com, even after it cost him his position with the Black Label Society he held in 2003-2004 and 2005-2006. Various reports note that Dyer was a paid employee of Black Label Society, which was not the case. The posted resignation letter on Wylde's webpage that was written by Dyer, and signed off on by Wylde's manager Bob Ringe, confirmed that he provided webmaster services at no-charge on account of his friendship with Wylde.
Seeking to bring an end to the episode, on May 8, 2007 Wylde's Attorney filed a Request For Dismissal of the case, ending the court litigation and any hope that 357 Customs Inc would be held to account for their actions.