Few people can claim Ozzy Osbourne as the godfather to their child.
Guitar icon Zakk Wylde might be the only one; the 44-year-old leader of Black Label Society and ex-Osbourne guitarist resides in the upper echelon of the metal gods, even if he laughs at the very idea of being voted one.
“It’s hysterical. Sure, I play metal and while I’m lifting weights, I’ll listen to Meshuggah or Ministry, but after shows, rolling on the bus, I listen to Elton John, The Eagles, Neil Young, Crowded House and Fleetwood Mac,” Wylde said. “You hang around long enough, you win by default. They have to hand you the championship trophy, after all the other teams got food poisoning and can’t make the game.”
He could have rested on the laurels of years spent supporting Osbourne. However, in 1998, he opted to form his own band, Black Label Society. He played with Osbourne until 2009 before focusing his full effort on his passion project.
“If guitar playing was all I wanted to do, that would have been the ultimate gig,” Wylde said. “Now, instead of Derek Jeter, I’m George Steinbrenner. I own the team, I pick the uniforms, I make the draft choices and do the free agency. I have my hand in everything, and that’s awesome. It’s not a pain in the ass, because I love doing it.”
Black Label Society released its ninth studio album, “The Song Remains Not the Same,” this summer, and now Wylde is prepping to unveil his latest project, a book titled “Bringing Metal to the Children,” in March. The tome of all things metal — which he described as “Seinfeld on steroids” — includes tips and tricks to being in a metal band, as well as some crazy stories from the likes of Rob Zombie, Eddie Van Halen, Stone Cold Steve Austin and, of course, Osbourne.
“It’s like me and you sitting in a bar getting hammered, and I tell you all the stupid, ridiculous stories,” he said. “We were crying-laughing as we wrote the book. It’s beyond stupid; it’s awesome. I wish I was making that stuff up.”
In the interim, Wylde is working on other Black Label ventures, like his own Berserker hot sauce, coffee, beef jerky and beer, as well as a live DVD featuring a string section and anything else he can put his godly fingers on.
“If you can get involved and out and branch into other things, that’s fun to do,” he said, “but the music is what it all comes back to. Everything is about the band.”
Photo by Patrick McBride