Zakk Wylde (born Jeffrey Phillip Wielandt on January 14, 1967) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and occasional actor who is best known as the guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, and founder of the heavy metal band Black Label Society. His signature bulls-eye design appears on many of his guitars and is widely recognized. 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 and Book of Shadows II.
Jeffrey Phillip Wielandt was born in Bayonne, New Jersey on January 14, 1967. He started playing the guitar at the age of 8, but didn't become serious about it until his first year in high school. At the age of 14 he worked at Silverton Music in the Silverton section of Toms River, New Jersey. Wielandt grew up in Jackson, New Jersey, and went to Jackson Memorial High School, where he graduated in 1985. He has stated that he would practice playing the guitar as much as 12 hours per day and would often play the guitar almost non-stop between coming home from school and leaving for school the next morning, then sleeping through the school day.
Wylde in 2006
Wylde played locally with his first band Stone Henge, then later with local Jersey band Zyris. Later, he landed the role as lead guitarist and co-writer for Ozzy Osbourne. Upon discovering that Wylde was a guitarist, Osbourne invited Wylde to join his band. Wylde agreed and was hired to replace Jake E. Lee, who replaced Brad Gillis, who had himself replaced the deceased Randy Rhoads. Rhoads 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 famous bullseye-painted Gibson Les Paul custom. Wylde lost the guitar in 2000 after 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 three 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. Grateful, Wylde gave the fan his signature model in exchange. In 1995, Wylde auditioned for Guns N' Roses.
Wylde was replaced in Osbourne's band by Joe Holmes from 1995 until his return in 2001. On January 17, 2006, Zakk Wylde was recognized at the Hollywood Rock Walk of Fame, 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. For a time in the mid-2000s he contributed a monthly column entitled "Brew-tality" for a guitar magazine, discussing his techniques and equipment, as well as transcribing riffs and solo sections. After auditions in 2004/2005, Ozzy Osbourne announced Wylde as the official guitarist for his album, Black Rain, which was released in 2007. On stage with Osbourne, Wylde has been credited for lending a high level of energy and passion to performances. Black Label Society's 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. Black Label Society headlined the second stage at the 2006 Ozzfest, with Wylde playing double duty with Ozzy on certain dates. He also joined Ozzy Osbourne for the Ozzy and Friends Tour in replacement of the Black Sabbath tour scheduled for the summer of 2012, playing a range of European dates including Graspop Metal Meeting in Belgium.
Black Label Society released 'The Song Remains Not the Same' on May 10, 2011 on E1. Wylde also played a guitar solo on Black Veil Brides' cover of Kiss' "Unholy," on the 2011 EP Rebels.
Wylde, along with Steve Vai, Nuno Bettencourt, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Tosin Abasi, was featured on the Generation Axe tour in April and May 2016.
On April 28th, 2017 it was announced that Wylde will be rejoining Ozzy Osbourne's band for a 2017 summer tour.
Wylde and his wife Barbaranne have four children: Hayley Rae, Hendrix, Sabbath, and Jesse—who is godson to Ozzy Osbourne. Wylde was a close friend of Pantera and Damageplan guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott and subsequently dedicated the song, "In this River" in his memory. He is a New York Yankees fan. As of 2011, he is in partnership with Blair's Sauces and Snacks to produce "Berserker" Hot Sauce and several variations. Wylde is Irish Catholic and has spoken about his faith, calling himself a "soldier of Christ." Wylde's health has come under scrutiny for several years. Wylde was asked by Sharon Osbourne to attend rehab, but left early on. In August 2009, Wylde was hospitalized due to blood clots; he was subsequently forced to cancel his tour with Mudvayne and Static-X. After his hospitalization, Wylde stopped drinking alcohol and is now sober.
Wylde is known for his use of Gibson Les Paul Custom model guitars, equipped with EMG -81 and -85 active pickups, with a "bulls-eye" graphic on them, a design he used to differentiate himself visually from Randy Rhoads – who was also frequently identified by his cream Les Paul Custom, the guitar he has used since he was 12 years old. The "bulls-eye" paint job was originally supposed to look like the spiral from the movie Vertigo, but when it came back incorrectly from the luthier, he liked the result and stuck with it. Although, mention should be given to both Eddie 'fingers' Ojeda of Twisted Sister, who used a Charvel (and later, a Wayne Guitars) super-strat style guitar finished in a black and pink/red 'bullseye' design before Zakk rose to prominence, and even earlier, Deke Leonard of Man, who played both a Fender Tele as well as a Gibson SG Custom which were both finished in a similar black and cream design to Zakk's guitars. One of Wylde's favorite stage guitars is a GMW RR-V, a model that is famously known as the "Polka-dot V" Created originally by luthier Karl Sandoval of California, used by Randy Rhoads, often mistaken as a custom Flying V.
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". Wylde has a custom Dean Splittail with a mud splatter bulls-eye graphic, as well as a signature Splittail shaped Gibson model called the "ZV". Another Dean in his collection is a Dime series Razorback with custom Bulls-eye graphics ordered for him specially by Dimebag Darrell shortly before his murder; since receiving the guitar, he has only ever used it on stage to play "In This River," Zakk's personal tribute to Dimebag.
In practice, Wylde uses Marshall MG Series practice combos ranging in wattage levels from 10-30W during tour/private use especially in hotels and buses. Wylde has an extensive relationship with Marshall Amplification due to his love for their amplifiers, both solid state and valve powered. Live, Wylde exclusively uses Marshall JCM 800's with twin 4 X 12 Cabinets loaded with EVM12L 300W Black Label Speakers. His usual signal path consists of his guitar > (on stage pedal board) Dunlop Wylde Wah > Dunlop Wylde Rotovibe > MXR ZW Phase 90 > MXR Wylde Overdrive > MXR Carbon Copy Delay Delay > (to a back stage pedal board) > MXR EVH Flanger > MXR Black Label Chorus > split signals, one to each distorted amp into the High Gain input.
A detailed gear diagram of Wylde's 1988 Ozzy Osbourne guitar rig is well-documented.
At the 2015 NAMM Show, Wylde announced his new company called Wylde Audio and provided a preview of his new line of custom guitars and amplifiers. Currently he now is seen playing Wylde Audio equipment almost exclusively.
Guest album appearances
Wylde has made guest appearances on various albums by other artists:
- He guested on Blackfoot's 1994 album After The Reign playing the second solo on the title track.
- He played "White Christmas" on the Merry Axemas 2 Christmas guitar album.
- He appears as guest vocalist and guitarist on the tracks "Soul Bleed" and "Reborn" on Damageplan's debut album, New Found Power.
- He played guitar solos on Dope's single "Addiction" from their newest album, No Regrets.
- He plays a solo on the song "Wanderlust" on Fozzy's 2005 release All That Remains.
- He has worked alongside Yngwie Malmsteen and others on five of Derek Sherinian's solo albums: Inertia, Black Utopia, Mythology, Blood of the Snake and Molecular Heinosity.
- Wylde was a judge for the 8th annual Independent Music Awards. His contributions helped assist independent artists' careers.
- In 2010 he played lead guitar on My Darkest Days' first single "Porn Star Dancing", along with guest singers Chad Kroeger and Ludacris.
- In 2011 he featured in Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed's new project, Jasta, in the song "The Fearless Must Endure".
- He plays the guitar solo on Black Veil Brides' cover of the Kiss song "Unholy" on their EP, Rebels.
- Wylde laid down a solo on "Monument / Monolith", a song by The Rippingtons on their album Built To Last, which released in 2012.
- He contributes a guitar solo on the track Steep Climb on Eric Gales' 2014 album Good For Sumthin.
Guest live performances
- On August 1, 1993, at Great Woods Amphitheatre in Mansfield, MA, 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 performed the U.S. 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.
- On April 13, 2011 he was the guitarist for James Durbin on American Idol, during Durbin's performance of "Heavy Metal" by Sammy Hagar.
- On April 20, 2011 he joined Michael Bearden and the Ese Vatos (house band for Lopez Tonight) to perform the Lenny Kravitz song "Are You Gonna Go My Way".
- On May 14, 2011 he performed the U.S. national anthem at Rockfest in Kansas City, Missouri.
- Wylde appeared onstage December 8, 2011 in Indianapolis, IN, to play a cover of AC/DC's "Whole Lotta Rosie" with Guns N' Roses while Black Label Society opened for Guns N' Roses during a leg of the US tour. Wylde also did this on subsequent shows before Black Label Society finished their run on the tour.
- In Fall 2014, Wylde appeared as one of the performers on the "Experience Hendrix 2014" tour along with Billy Cox, Eric Johnson, Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Buddy Guy and others. Wylde performed "Manic Depression", "Little Wing", and "Purple Haze" as well as playing with many of the other performers.
- In 2001, Wylde appeared as the lead guitarist for a band called Steel Dragon in the movie Rock Star, also starring Mark Wahlberg.
- Wylde appeared in Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode "Spirit Journey Formation Anniversary" as himself
- Wylde appeared in the Californication episode "Suicide Solution" in 2011, credited as "Guitar Guy".
- Wylde also appeared playing guitar alongside Lorne and other audience members in Angel's season 4 episode "The Magic Bullet" in 2003.
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