Zakk Wylde (born Jeffrey Phillip Wielandt, January 14, 1967), is an American musician, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and occasional actor who is best known as the former 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 in 1996.
Jeffrey Phillip Wielandt was born in Bayonne, New Jersey. He started playing the guitar at the age of 8 and at the age of 14 he worked at Silverton Music in the Silverton section of Toms River, New Jersey. Wylde 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 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. He sent Ozzy a demo tape in 1987 and was hired to replace Jake E. Lee, who replaced Brad Gillis, who 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 infamous bullseye-painted Gibson Les Paul custom. Wylde lost the guitar 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 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 bartered for it, in exchange for two other Les Pauls. In 1995, Wylde auditioned for Guns N' Roses.
Osbourne has maintained a flexible attitude with regard to his backing band, leaving his band members free to leave as they wish, but Wylde has remained 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 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.
After auditions in 2004/2005, Ozzy Osbourne announced Wylde as the official guitarist for his upcoming 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. Ozzy Osbourne's album Black Rain, was released in May 2007. 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 band's Rebels EP released in December 2011.
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 Darrell "Dimebag" Abbott and subsequently dedicated the song, "In this River" in his memory. 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 as 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.
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 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 incorrect from the luthier, he liked the result and stuck with it. He was sometimes criticized by viewers and media for taking the idea of the "bulls-eye" from Eddie Ojeda from Twisted Sister, however, both Eddie and Zakk deny it and suppose it to be coincidence. One of Wylde's favorite stage guitars is a Karl Sandoval V, a model that is famously known as the "Polka-dot V" 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 death; 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 Zakk Wylde's 1988 Ozzy Osbourne guitar rig is well-documented.
In 2001, Wylde appeared as the lead guitarist for a band called Steel Dragon in the movie Rock Star, also starring Mark Wahlberg.
Guest album appearances
Wylde has made guest appearances on various albums by other artists:
- 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 1993 Wylde was the guitarist on Ozzy Osbourne's double album Live & Loud.
- 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.
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 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 BLS 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.
- 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 in the music video game Guitar Hero World Tour as a playble character. He becomes unlocked upon defeating him in a specially recorded guitar battle and completing Stillborn in the guitarist career.