Zakk Wylde can recall once being interviewed alongside Buddy Guy — the two appeared on the 2016 Experience Hendrix tour together — when somebody asked the blues legend a question. “They go, ‘Buddy, what is it about Zakk’s playing that you like?’” Wylde lets out a huge laugh. “And I said, ‘I can answer that for ya — he likes the space in between the songs!’ ”
Wylde is, of course, being characteristically self deprecating. And why not? He knows full well that over the course of his more than 30-year recording career he’s laid down his fair share of stone-cold killer jams. With that in mind, here’s a dirty dozen of Zakk’s greatest guitar moments — from Ozzy tracks to Black Label Society tunes, guest spots to covers and more — straight from the man himself.
"Having a limited amount of things forces you to have to come up with something great," Wylde says
(Ozzy Osbourne, No Rest for the Wicked, 1988)
This was the first riff I ever wrote with Ozzy. The fingering I was doing on that was “Foxey Lady” [sings “Foxey Lady” riff]. Because I remember when I learned that — it’s the same thing [sings “Miracle Man” riff]. And then I just added the end part. And then with the rhythm, I just made it obviously a metal thing. But I was just trying to figure out a lick, you know? And, like they say, everything comes from somewhere. Muddy Waters could have influenced the Stones on something, and then Muddy would have said , “Oh, I got that from my uncle, and my uncle got it from one of his friends that played guitar…” Then it’s just your interpretation of something else. But I always find it interesting to go back and find out where things came from. And you go, “Oh, okay.”
(Ozzy Osbourne, No Rest for the Wicked)
I remember me and Randy Castillo were jamming that riff and then doing all the pushes and everything. So I remember when we were noodling, that’s where that one came about.
“MAMA, I’M COMING HOME”
(Ozzy Osbourne, No More Tears, 1991)
That actually came from me and Oz jamming on the piano in my apartment in North Hollywood. So it started on piano and then when we got in the studio I transposed it to guitar. It’s in open E, so that’s where I came up with the guitar line that goes from E to A. And then obviously my love for the Allmans and Skynyrd and everything, that’s where the Albert Lee-type country bends in the beginning came from. Even on “No More Tears,” there’s a ton of me slipping in little country things. Like, the slide part is a “Free Bird” type thing. I’d be sneaking in those Allmans-y, Skynyrdy things as much as they could fit within the context of what we were doing. Just putting that seasoning on the food.
“I DON’T WANT TO CHANGE THE WORLD”
(Ozzy Osbourne, No More Tears)
That came out as a goof. We were at Joe’s Garage, Frank Zappa’s old place, and we were jamming. I remember I was playing the main riff, and then I’d get through it and just stop. And then you or me would say something into the mic, like, “How not to ever get a date.” Or, “I have no job and I live with my parents.” And then we’d go back into the riff. It was just us on the floor, crying-laughing and coming up with all this stuff that we kept saying in between that riff. Then Ozzy comes walking into the room and he goes, “What is that?” I’m like, “What are you talkin’ about?” And he says, “That thing you’re playing. That riff.” I go, “Oh, it’s just a joke...” And he goes, “We’re going to use that.” Next thing you know, it won a Grammy!
“LOSIN’ YOUR MIND”
(Pride & Glory, Pride & Glory, 1994)
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