Years | Ozzy Years | Allman
Bros. Band | Pride & Glory | Ozzmosis
Zakk Wylde was born Jeffery Philip Wielandt to a Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Wielandt on January 14, 1967 in Bayonne, New Jersey. He also has a sister, Amy. Zakk began guitar at the age of eight, only to quit a short time after due to lack of interest. Zakk then attended Jackson Memorial High School were he then picked up the guitar again at age 14. He began taking lessons from his high school football coachs son, LeRoy Wright. He then studied classical guitar with a guy from Freehold, NJ, and later with a guy in Manhattan. Zakk formed his first band Stone Henge playing songs at parties like Ozzys Bark at the Moon and other songs by Black Sabbath and Rush. It was at that time when Zakk started dating a classmate named Barbaranne Caterina, who would later become his wife.
After graduating from Jackson Memorial High School in 1985 at the age of 18, Zakk was working at a local supermarket, doing roofing, and playing in various bands. Thats when Zakk began to write originals and joined a band called Zyris replacing guitarist Dave Linsk (who joined the band Overkill). Upon joining Zyris is when he started calling himself Zakari Wyland. He got the name from the TV show Lost In Spaces character Dr. Zachary Smith. Zyris played original material as well as covers by their favorite bands: Black Sabbath & Led Zeppelin. It was at that time that Zakk began to give guitar lessons in Jackson, New Jersey. Zyris played some, but not many gigs in the southern Jersey area, including shows at "Close Encounters" and a gig at the famous "Stone Pony."
Hearing on the Howard Stern Show that Ozzy would be auditioning unknown guitarists, he never thought of it to be more than a fantasy. While performing with Zyris, Zakk was discovered by rock photographers Mark Weiss and Dave Feld. Amazed at Zakks playing, Dave confronted Zakk, and mentioned that Ozzy was looking for a new guitarist and that they would pass along a press kit. Zakk, along with help from friend, Jim Matlosz, recorded a 4 track demo which was sent along with the press kit, which ended up landing an audition. During the audition, Zakk played a few Ozzy songs and some acoustic and classical stuff. After the audition he returned home thinking he didnt get the job. Soon after, he received a phone call from Sharon Osbourne asking if he would join the band.
At the age of 20 years old, Zakk joined Ozzy Osbourne's band. It was then that he was given the name Zakk Wylde. Ozzy introduced Zakk as his new guitarist at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York City, on Dec.15, 1987. Zakk made his recording debut in 1988 with "No Rest For The Wicked" and quickly became one of the most talked about young guitarists in metal, due to his instantly recognizable guitar sound and style.
By 1989, Zakk went from an unknown teenager playing small clubs in New Jersey, to touring the world in huge arenas with Ozzy Osbourne. Ozzy and his band were booked play Moscow Peace Festival during summer of 1989, alongside Skid Row, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, the Scorpions, and more. A live E.P. "Just Say Ozzy" was released soon after. It featured Ozzy, Zakk, Geezer Butler, and Randy Castillo. The E.P. contained three No Rest For Wicked tunes, "Miracle Man," "Bloodbath In Paradise," and "Tattooed Dancer," plus a version "Shot In The Dark" from The Ultimate Sin (which is universally recognized as the best recording of the song), and two Black Sabbath classics, "War Pigs," and "Sweet Leaf."
In 1990, Ozzy, Zakk, Randy, and Bob Daisley (with bass inspiration from Mike Inez) recorded No More Tears, the second studio release in which Zakk appears on. No More Tears is generally regarded as one of Zakk's finest performances. From the mega-hit title track, and the epic and heartfelt "Mama, I'm Coming Home," to the thunderous "Mr. Tinkertrain," the album was perfectly balanced. Zakk's style changed and matured a lot from No Rest For The Wicked to No More Tears, and there were southern rock "chicken pickin'" elements starting to come out in his playing, which would be a huge part in his sound for years to come.
The tour for No More Tears, aptly titled "No More Tours" was billed to be Ozzy's final farewell tour. A lot of the shows on the tour were professionally filmed and recorded for a live release. Live & Loud, a double disc set and video release of live recordings from the tour, was released in 1992. The live performance of "I Don't Want To Change The World" also landed the Ozzy Osbourne band a Grammy Award that year.
In 1992, while still with Ozzy, Zakk formed a band called Lynyrd Skynhead with bassist James Lomenzo and drummer Greg DeAngelo of White Lion fame. They jammed a bunch of classic rock and southern rock tunes from bands such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Bros, ZZ Top and Mountain at numerous in-stores and other appearances. This lineup recorded the track "Farm Fiddlin'" which appeared on the "Guitars That Rule The World Vol. 1" compilation album. Some of the in-store appearances from this era featured Zakk and local musicians backing him, so some of the bootlegs credited as "Lynyrd Skynhead" may actually only be Zakk solo appearances.
On August 1st 1993, Zakk got to fill-in for
Dickey Betts in the Allman Bros. Band for a show. This amazing show
bootlegged. Every time someone mentions the numerous bands that Zakk
Wylde has been a part of, the Allmans are always brought up, but
in all actuality, he only did one show with them.
In 1994, Zakk became friends with Blind Melon front-man Shannon Hoon, and they began writing songs together while Zakk was helping him get cleaned up. Around this time, Ozzy decided to come out of retirement, and he recruited Zakk, Mike Inez, and Randy Castillo to record his next album. The album had several scrapped recording sessions, one with Mike Inez on bass, and another with James Lomenzo on bass. Epic Records hired famed producer Michael Wagener to produce the album, saying "we want exactly the same record as No More Tears." After 7 songs were completely recorded and mixed with Michael Wagener, Epic came to him and told him "now we want it to sound like Soundgarden." Needless to say, this infuriated him, because it was impossible to change the direction of the album after 7 songs were completely finished. So after all of their hard work, the label decided to abandon tracking of the album. At this point in their careers, both Michael Wagener and Ozzy wanted to leave the music business altogether after working so hard on something they were proud of, only to have their record company reject it.
Two of Michael Wagener's original 7 recordings were released as single b-sides, "Aimee," and "Living With The Enemy." One song called "Slow Burn," recorded during these sessions remains unreleased. The other four songs recorded were "Perry Mason," "See You On The Other Side," "Tomorrow," and "Old L.A. Tonight." These four songs are completely different recordings than the eventual versions on Ozzmosis, in fact, the version of "See You On The Other Side" (which was released on Ozzy's box set"Prince Of Darkness" in 2005) contains saxophone and a female choir.
Epic Records eventually hired Soundgarden producer Michael Beinhorn to record what would become Ozzmosis in 1995. For some reason, Randy Castillo and Mike Inez (or James Lomenzo) were not asked back, and Deen Castronovo and Geezer Butler were brought in for the drum and bass duties.
During the recording of Ozzmosis, Zakk would hang out at a restaurant called Brew's in New York after a full day in the studio and jam some acoustic material he was writing but was unable to use on Ozzmosis. According to Kieran Brew, the club's owner, Zakk would come in around 3:30 a.m. when few people remained in the restaurant, and would sing and play guitar. Brew's became the proving grounds for the material that would later become "Book of Shadows." Three days before Ozzmosis was released, on October 21st, 1995, Zakk got the news that Shannon Hoon had passed away of an overdose. He then wrote the song "Throwin' It All Away," which would later be recorded for "Book Of Shadows."
Around this same time, Zakk started jamming with Guns N Roses at Duff Mckagan's house and several demos were recorded, including many riffs which were later used for Black Label Society's first album, "Sonic Brew."
Ozzmosis, which featured the pounding lead-off single "Perry Mason," was released on October 24th. The album would mark the first time that Zakk did not write every single song that was recorded. One of the tracks, "My Little Man," was written by Steve Vai, and several others by different writers and producers.
After Ozzmosis came out, Zakk was torn between joining Guns N' Roses, or touring with Ozzy. He took too long to decide, and Ozzy eventually hired a guitarist by the name of Joe Holmes for the Ozzmosis tour. Around the same time, Zakk received a message from Guns N Roses that his services would not be needed.
This marked a crossroads in Zakk's career, but luckily, he still had something to do musically. Geffen Records was wanting a new album from him to fulfill his contract. He decided to record and release all of the excess material that he had laying around, which became "Book Of Shadows." He called up former Pride & Glory bassist James Lomenzo and asked him to play on the album, and Joe Vitale, veteran drummer from Joe Walsh and Crosby, Stills & Nash was recruited to play drums and some keyboards on the album as well. "Book Of Shadows" was released in 1996 on Geffen Records.
After the album was released, Nick Catanese, a guitarist from Pittsburgh, emailed Zakk enquiring on whether or not he needed a second guitarist for the tour, and Zakk responded by inviting him to come and jam with him. After jamming, Nick was hired as a 2nd guitarist for the Book Of Shadows tour. During this tour, the seeds for the creation of Black Label Society were planted; a drummer by the name of Phil Ondich met Zakk in San Francisco at The Great American Music Hall on Sept. 16th, 1996, they shook hands and their meeting was brief. Then, on December 3rd, at Staches in Columbus, OH, he met him again before the show, to which Zakk proclaimed "dude, you're fucking everywhere," and they proceeded to down several cases of Heineken and exchange phone numbers. On February 22nd, 1997 in Roanoke, Virginia, they crossed paths a third time and Phil gave him a demo tape of him playing with a band called Raging Slab. Outside of a radio station there in Roanoke, Zakk jammed a new song on his acoustic guitar called "Beneath The Tree." Phil kept time for Zakk by patting his hands on his legs with the music. Over the next year, the two agreed to work together on an album.
In 1997, Zakk self-produced a few demos with Brock Avery on drums (among these demos is "The Color Green" which later appeared as a bonus track to the 1999 Spitfire reissue of Book of Shadows). In August, Zakk, with Nick on rhythm guitar, Ian Mayo on bass, and Brock Avery on drums embarked upon a short electric Japanese tour, playing songs from both Pride & Glory and Book Of Shadows. A pro-shot video exists of one of these performances called "Rock Around The Bay '97." Zakk also performed at the Jason Becker Benefit on November 17th, 1997.
On January 31, 1998, the original Pride & Glory band reunited for a one-off reunion show at the Whiskey in Hollywood, CA. This momentous occasion was believed to be bootlegged, but no video has turned up anywhere. Click Here for some photos of this show taken by photographer Sven Isaksson.
Zakk Wylde, Mike Inez, and Randy Castillo (the No More Tears band), were rehired by Ozzy Osbourne in early 1998 for a tour in New Zealand, Australia, and Japan. Ads appeared in magazines stating that Ozzfest '98 would feature this lineup, but mysteriously, the entire band was let go without reason by the Ozzy camp after they got back from Japan. This marked another crossroads in Zakk's career.
On May 9th, 1998, Zakk went to Italy to perform a one-off solo show at Rimini's Dog Pub, a very strange show in which members of the crowd held up a microphone for him to sing into. Upon his return, he had some studio time booked down in Miami. After several discussions, and a recommendation from Nick Catanese, Zakk had decided to give Phil Ondich a call and invite him down to the studio to record an album. What became Sonic Brew was recorded in May/June 1998 in Miami, Florida with Ron and Howard Albert at the console. Zakk loved the lyrics on the song "Beneath The Tree" that he had written the year before, so he wrote some new music and kept the lyrics for it.
While writing and recording, Zakk and Phil decided that they wanted to form a long-lasting band, and not just release another Zakk Wylde solo album. They decided to call the band "Hell's Kitchen" and the album was to be called "Sonic Brewery." Phil designed all of the artwork and helped lay out the booklet for the album, but after an unsuccessful attempt at getting the moniker trademarked, they had no idea what to name the band. After thinking about it for awhile, it was decided that the band was to be called Black Label Society (due to their love of Black Label whisky, and the fact that "black label" means "best"). The front and back artwork for the album had to be changed, but the inside booklet was kept almost exactly the same. If you look, all of the art inside the booklet is set up like a kitchen menu. Hilarious liner notes and artwork (a devil devouring a chef, etc) fill the booklet, and if you replace the word "society" with the word "kitchen" in a lot of the liner notes, it makes a lot more sense; such as, "its the height of bad manners to heave in somebody else's kitchen" makes much more sense than "somebody else's society."
Sonic Brew was released in Japan on October 28th, 1998. It contained 13 tracks ("Lost My Better Half" and "No More Tears 2000" did not exist yet at this point). The album featured an awesome album cover that was printed on clear plastic, with a separate paper booklet. The back cover was printed with golden ink, and the packaging was overall, a lot better than the USA version ended up. There was a long delay for the USA album release because the band were still shopping for a record label, and also because everyone collectively decided that it needed remixed. The drums & vocals were buried on some of the tracks towards the end of the disc, so it was decided that they would remix it for the US release. They decided to give the USA an extra track for the album, and went into the studio in Los Angeles to write and record "Lost My Better Half" as a one-off bonus track for the album. It was Zakk's heaviest song to date. Sonic Brew was finally released on May 4th, 1999 on Spitfire Records.
For touring, BLS needed a bass player, so Zakk put out an ad in guitar magazines: "Looking for a bassist. Preferably a guitarist who's willing to play bass. Fender P Bass preferred. Mid/Late 20's, early 30's. CRUSHINGLY HEAVY. If you don't dig Cliff Burton don't bother replying." Evidently, finding an unknown bassist didn't work out, because Zakk ended up hiring his long-time friend and former P&G replacement bassist John "J.D." DeServio as BLS' bass player. Black Label Society's lineup was now complete. Zakk, Nick, J.D., and Philth.
BLS performed their first ever live show in Japan on May 1st, 1999 at Club Quattro, in Shibuya, Tokyo. On the final date of that Japanese tour, Stephen Pearcy, the singer of the band Ratt, joined BLS onstage for a terrible, unrehearsed encore of Black Sabbath's "Paranoid." After the Japanese tour, BLS toured Europe, playing for what was probably their largest crowd they've ever played to at Dynamo Open Air '99.
After the European tour, the American tour dates that were scheduled were all cancelled, and there was a long wait before the US tour began. A reason was fabricated by Zakkwylde.com that said that Phil had broken his arm while jet-skiing, which was completely untrue. The real reason for the tour postponement was because the Johnny Walker whisky company issued a cease and desist order to the band because the album cover looked just like a bottle of their whisky. Because of this, he band decided to reissue the album with a different album cover, and as an added incentive, they wanted to record a bonus track for the fans who bought the new version of the album. Zakk, Phil, along with Ozzy alumni Mike Inez recorded the song "No More Tears 2000" as a bonus track. The reissue of the album was for sale at merchandise stands on tour before it could be found in stores. A guitar pick was inside the case of the reissue as an added bonus to those who bought this version.
Black Label Society finally kicked off their first tour of the United States in mid September 1999, with the band Loudmouth supporting them on many of the dates. They played most of the songs from Sonic Brew, a few Pride & Glory songs, and at a few shows, they covered "Miracle Man" by Ozzy. The tour wrapped up without a hitch.
In the winter of 1999/2000, Zakk and Philth headed to Rumbo Recorders in Los Angeles to cut their sophomore effort "Stronger Than Death." Mike Piazza, catcher for the NY Mets, was hanging with them in the studio and recorded the growls on the title track. Axl Rose was actually in the studio next to theirs working on "Chinese Democracy" and hung out with them on several occasions, but no collaboration occurred. Phil hand-drew the album's artwork at Zakk's house while Zakk was heading back and forth from home and the studio to finish up some guitar overdubs on the album. Stronger Than Death was released in Japan on March 8th 2000 (with a bonus track, "Bullet Inside Your Head"), and in the United States on April 18th 2000.
During the spring of 2000, the movie "Rock Star" was filmed, which features Zakk, Nick Catanese, and BLS' guitar tech Fred Kowalo alongside Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Aniston. Songs for the movie's soundtrack were also recorded, which featured both Zakk and Nick on guitar, Jeff Scott Soto (of Yngwie Malmsteen) & Mike Matijevic (of Steelheart) both sharing vocal duties, Jeff Pilson (of Dokken) on bass, and Jason Bonham (son of the late, Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham) on drums. Besides the songs released on the soundtrack, 3 more are known to have been recorded, including the Wylde penned song "Crown Of Falsehood" and the Pilson penned "Desperate Hearts," (both of which are available on the sounds page) and also a cover of the Phoenix Down song "Reckless," a portion of which is heard in the film itself, when Mark Wahlberg is recorded in the studio towards the end.
Before the Stronger Than Death tour, it was announced that J.D. had decided to leave the band to pursue other interests, and he was replaced by Steve "S.O.B." Gibb, son of Barry Gibb from the BeeGees. Black Label Society, along with label-mates Crowbar and Sixty Watt Shaman, kicked off the Penchant For Violence Tour in Japan on June 14th, 2000. The band was playing new songs from Stronger Than Death, songs from Sonic Brew, and a "Societized" cover of Ozzy's "Demon Alcohol."
After the Japanese tour ended on June 21st, the US tour began right away with no break. The entire band came back from Japan sick and jet lagged. The first show was June 23rd, in front of a packed crowd at The Sun Theater in Anaheim, California. About 5 songs into the set, Phil collapsed from behind his kit due to stomach flu and exhaustion. Craig Nunenmacher of the supporting band Crowbar helped out and joined the band onstage to play a few Black Sabbath songs to give the crowd their money's worth. The next 2 shows were cancelled, and then the band returned to the road, playing what some say were their best shows to date. Unfortunately, Zakk's original Bullseye Les Paul, dubbed "The Grail," fell out of the back of the trailer between Dallas and Houston, Texas. Many ads and a reward were issued for the guitar, but it did not turn up anywhere.
BLS got to Highland, Indiana on July 6th, 2000, about 3 songs
Phil had started to feel faint, still suffering from the stomach
had laid dormant and came back even worse, and amidst a lot of
confusion, there was a brawl
Zakk and Philth, which resulted in Phil leaving the band. BLS did
a few Sabbath songs with Craig on drums again, and after the
show, he was asked to fill-in for Phil and pull double-duty with
both BLS and Crowbar for the rest of the tour; Phil's status
in the band was unknown at the time. Eventually, Craig was asked
to join the band, and he replaced Phil as
BLS' drummer from that point on.
"Alcohol Fueled Brewtality Live +5", BLS' first live album was recorded on October 28th 2000. Zakk and Craig recorded several studio tracks for a second disc, including the single "Like A Bird," and covers of Neil Young's "Heart Of Gold," and Black Sabbath's "Snowblind." The album was released on January 16th, 2001.
The band was added to Ozzfest 2001 that summer as the main stage opener. A live version of Superterrorizer was recorded at one of the Ozzfest shows and released on the Ozzfest 2001 cd; the track featured an intro which later became the song "Battering Ram." Steve Gibb left the band mid-way through the tour, and was replaced by former Ozzy/Alice In Chains bassist Mike Inez. But in early August, Mike had to fly back to California due to obligations with another band, and bass tech Frey Theiler filled in on a few dates towards the end of Ozzfest.
During the tour, Zakk recorded a few demos with a guy by the name of Christian Werr playing drums, to showcase to Ozzy for possible inclusion on Ozzy's next album. Zakk sang the songs in a higher key than he normally would, to demonstrate, the best he could, how Ozzy would sound singing them. He planned to load the tracks into Pro-Tools and have Ozzy re-sing the songs, but that never happened. Ozzy rejected the songs because they were "too Black Label," so Zakk kept them for the next BLS album. The demos that were recorded were "Bleed For Me," "Life/Birth/Blood/Doom," "Demise Of Sanity," an alternate piano version of "Bridge To Cross," and a demo presumably called "I'll Find The Way." The latter two tracks were never released. Robert Trujillo, who played bass for Ozzy's band, played on "Life/Birth/Blood/Doom" and"Demise Of Sanity."
Zakk recorded a new album with Ozzy in the Summer/Fall of 2001, but did not write any of the tracks for it. "Down To Earth" was released on October 16th, 2001, and Ozzy and Rob Zombie toured together on the "Merry Mayhem" tour. During Ozzy's Far East tour, they recorded a live album, "Live at Budokan" at Japan's world famous Budokan arena on February 14th, 2002.
Somewhere around this time, either before or after the Merry Mayhem tour, Zakk and Craig went into the studio with Eddie Mapp and recorded what became "1919 Eternal." The album was supposed to be called "Deathcore Warmachine Eternal" but the title was changed in light of the tragic events of September 11th, 2001. Zakk revisited the demos that he did for Ozzy with Christian Werr on drums, and decided to keep the same drums and rhythm tracks, but to re-record the vocals in his own register and redo the solos. Bridge To Cross was re-recorded as an acoustic guitar driven song instead of a piano ballad, and a few other minor changes were made to the other demos. The album was released on March 5th, 2002.
Label Society played main stage on all of Ozzfest 2002,
Trujillo, also Ozzy's bassist, handling the bass duties. Both
Zakk and Robert played double duty in both BLS and Ozzy's band.
successful, despite the European trek being cut short due to
Zakk being unwillingly sent home to rehab by Sharon Osbourne,
several cancelled dates, and several "No-Ozzy Ozzfests" (Ozzy
missing two Ohio shows because of Sharon Osbourne receiving
chemotherapy treatment). Black Label
Society got more publicity on this tour than they ever have, and
they were received extremely well by the Ozzfest crowd.
Zakk Wylde joined
SOiL onstage and recorded a live version of their song "Halo" which
was released on the Ozzfest 2002 compilation cd on September
3rd. During the last week of July 2002, while traveling through
Zakk recorded a few acoustic songs, including "The Blessed
and "No Other," the latter of which was not released
until 2004 on
"Hangover Music Vol. VI."
the summer of 2003, toured with Ozzy in Canada,
and then returned to the States for Ozzfest 2003. Many wondered
if Jason Newstead would be pulling double duty with both Ozzy
and BLS, but
Label Society ended up not doing Ozzfest that year,
so that Zakk could concentrate fully on Ozzy. Jason pulled
double duty with Ozzy and Voivod, and there were no actual talks
him ever joining BLS, it was just a rumor.
After recording Hangover Music Vol. VI, the band took a few months off, and then Zakk, Craig, and James Lomenzo went back into the studio with producer Barry Conley in April of 2004 to start recording the next full-on heavy BLS album to shop around to new record labels. The band recorded 16-18 songs, finished them, mixed them, and then listened to them for awhile. The band decided to let the album sit, leave the tapes at home, and go out on Ozzfest 2004 and forget all about the new songs for awhile.
Black Label Society, now with James Lomenzo joining the ranks permanently on bass, played on Ozzfest 2004, playing songs from The Blessed Hellride, but none in promotion of Hangover Music, as an acoustic set would not go over too well on a tour like Ozzfest, which featured a reunited Judas Priest, Slayer, and Black Sabbath that year.
Ozzfest ended, Zakk, Craig, and James went back into
the studio (this time with both
Barry Conley and Eddie Mapp at the helm) and recorded
another 5 or 6 songs (including "Spread Your Wings" and "Electric
Hellfire,") to add to the already recorded batch.
Then they figured out which
up the tracklist, and both Eddie and Barry collaborated
together to finalize and mix the album.
January 25th, 2005, Zakk, Craig, and James went into the studio
to record a cover of the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic "I Never Dreamed,"
which was added to the end of Mafia. The song was intended to be
released on a Sanctuary Records tribute album called "Heavy
was to also feature Corrosion Of Conformity, Metallica, Kid Rock,
Sebastian Bach, Saliva, Dee Snider and others. Unfortunatly
Sanctuary Records ended up going under before the album could be released.