Wylde Wisdom: 15 Minutes with Zakk Wylde
Zakk Wylde blew into TIDAL HQ shaking his head over the recent spate of farewell tours: Elton John’s three-year goodbye, Paul Simon’s impending retirement, etc. I had planned to ask the Ozzy Osbourne guitarist/Black Label Society founder about some albums that changed his life, but, in the end, I just let Wylde wax poetic on everything from the Dead to spice and crayons.
Wylde is currently on the road with Black Label Society with their most recent album, Book of Shadows II, but you might recognize the long-maned guitarist from stints in Ozzy’s band and his own Black Sabbath cover band, Zakk Sabbath.
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On bands calling it quits when the lead singer dies… Babe Ruth is gone? The Yankees are still gonna continue. Derek Jeter’s gone; the Yankees are still gonna go.
[A band like Grateful Dead] keeps going. Because nothing for nothing, all the guys in the band have families, and it’s just like, that’s their main source of income is the Dead. The Dead, it’s more than just one guy. It’s the whole thing. It’s a movement. It’s like Harley Davidson. It’s bigger than a motorcycle. It’s a mindset and a lifestyle.
On the early music that made an impact… I saw Elton John perform on the Sonny and Cher Show. I must have been 8 or 9 years old. I saw him do ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.’ Elton definitely was one of the first [musicians I loved] and then the next band I found was Sabbath and I was about 11 years old. Then after that was Zeppelin, and then everything after that. Hendrix, and Bad Company, and Allman Brothers… You know, classic rock.
I got serious about guitar when I was about 14 — when I first started high school, about 14, 15 — that’s when I started discovering all these amazing guitar players and taking lessons.
At first, you’re learning from your favorite bands. And then you start learning about all of these other amazing guitar players, whether it’s Frank Marino from Mahogany Rush, obviously Jimi Hendrix, Robin Trower. I found Al Di Meola and Jon McLaughlin, and those were my guys after that. You know I mean, there’s the Stones, the Beatles, you know.
On his first album… The first album I had was Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. I sold my soul for rock & roll, and it was just on to collecting as much rock status as I could.
I actually still listen to those records. I’m a steady guy about music to this day. I still get as inspired as I did back in the day when I was 15 years old. I’m 51 now, and I still get as inspired as I did back then.
On old-school gear… Everybody always says: ‘Could you imagine if they — Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles, whatever — if they had the gear that they have nowadays?’ I say, ‘No. I’m glad they made those records when they had the gear they have.’ Because you had to be creative. Because you only had x-amount of crayons to work with. You didn’t have 64 crayons. You only had 10.
So in order to make pink, they had to use red and white to, like, make it pink, you know what I mean? It was like, ‘Wow, check it out, I used red and white, it was an accident,’ you got another color. You know what I mean? So you actually have to use your noggin. You only have x-amount of spices in the spice rack and you gotta try and make a whole bunch of different dishes.
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