Zakk Wylde promises a show resembling “Romper Room on steroids” Friday night at the Diamond Ballroom.
And that's just the kind of outrageous line — and live performance — his devoted fans (known as “Berserkers”) have come to expect from the Black Label Society leader since he first broke big as Ozzy Osbourne's guitarist back in 1988.
“It's time for Black Label church services to begin,” Wylde said from his home outside of Los Angeles last week. “Black Label family dysfunctional fun.”
He's a funny dude, but he's also a seriously successful musician, having followed in the footsteps of Tony Iommi, the late Randy Rhoads and Jake E. Lee as Osbourne's right-hand man, serving as lead guitarist in the metal mad man's band for nearly 20 years, and playing on Osbourne's biggest-selling album “No More Tears” (for which Wylde wrote all the music) and “Ozzmosis.”
And since 1998, Wylde also has flourished fronting Black Label, which released its eighth album, “Order of the Black,” in 2010, and “The Song Remains Not the Same” earlier this year, featuring acoustic versions of songs from the previous album.
“I love the heavy stuff, listenin' to Sabbath and Zep, or when I'm liftin' weights listenin' to the Dime
“I listen to everything. Even classical. I've been playin' tons of classical guitar.”
Ozzy and beyond
Of course, Wylde will be playing tons of what he's best known for — string-shredding, plugged-in, heavy metal guitar — on Black Label Society's current tour, which includes headlining dates like the one in Oklahoma City and supporting gigs with Judas Priest and Thin Lizzy.
The days with Ozzy are behind him now — at least for the time being — since Osbourne announced in 2009 that he was replacing Wylde. But Wylde harbors no hard feelings. On the contrary. Osbourne simply decided his band was starting to sound like Black Label.
“Yeah, no, totally, I still talk to Oz,” he said. “No, no fallin' out or nothin'. No, we never got in any arguments ever. I mean, we were too busy dyin' of laughter. It was just like with Oz, ‘Zakk, I don't wanna be the lead singer in Black Label,' you know what I mean? I mean, if Randy Rhoads, if Saint Rhoads was still around, and if Randy was leavin' Oz goin' to Quiet Riot and comin' back to Oz, Quiet Riot, Ozzy, Quiet Riot, after a while you go, ‘Uh, Randy, it's startin' to sound like Quiet Riot. I don't wanna be in Quiet Riot ... I wanna have my own thing.' And you know, you can't blame Ozzy for that at all.
“He knows I'm at his disposal whenever he needs me. It's like, ‘Oh, you want me to come over and clean the dog run before you have company over? No problem.' And Gus G (Wylde's replacement), aside from being a killer guitar player, he's a super cool dude ... Mom and the Boss (Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne), I mean, what more could Ozzy do for me? He introduced me to the world and then on top of it, Mom and the Boss always had me opening up on the Ozzfest and helping me all the time, so I mean, how could I not be eternally grateful to them?”
No time for AA, booze
And as for adjusting to a life of sobriety, on orders from his doctor, Wylde says he's faring just fine.
“Over two years now,” he said. “No, it's no big deal. It's just like, I don't go to AA meetings. I got a million things goin' on in my day, the Black Label to-do list. Before my feet hit the floor I've got stuff that I gotta do. Goin' to an AA meeting? I'll go to the gym. That's my therapy. I know Ozzy was havin' AA meetings. I went to one of 'em. I said, ‘Ozz, nothin' for nothin'. Like, I gotta go clean the dog run, I got things I gotta do around the house, I could be practicing right now, I could do other things.”
One of those other things includes an “Unblackened” DVD, a continuation of the “Song Remains Not the Same” project, coming soon, complete with a string section and several of Wylde's musician buddies making guest appearances in the live performances. But first comes the tour, which begins Friday night at the Diamond Ballroom.
Until then, Wylde said, “Just tell the rest of the Oklahoma chapter to stay strong, keep bleedin' Black, man.”
Black Label Society
Where: Diamond Ballroom, 8001 S Eastern.