Zakk Wylde is an American guitarist and singer. He is best known as the lead guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne and as the founder, lead guitarist, and lead singer 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 also the lead guitarist and vocalist of Pride & Glory, who released one self-titled album in 1994 before disbanding. As a solo artist, he released the albums Book of Shadows and Book of Shadows II. Zakk Wylde joined the reunited Pantera in 2022 as a touring guitarist.
Zachary Phillip Wylde was born, Jeffrey Phillip Wielandt in Bayonne, New Jersey, on January 14, 1967. He is of Irish descent. He started playing guitar at the age of eight, but did not become serious about it until his early teenage years. At the age of 14, he worked at Silverton Music in Silverton, New Jersey.
He grew up in Jackson, New Jersey, where he attended Jackson Memorial High School, graduating in 1985. He has stated that he often played the guitar almost non-stop between coming home from school and leaving for school the next morning, then would be completely exhausted during school the next day.
Zakk Wylde played locally with his first band Stone Henge, then later with local New Jersey band Zyris. Later, he auditioned for lead guitarist and co-writer for Ozzy Osbourne. Zakk Wylde was hired to replace Jake E. Lee, who replaced Brad Gillis, who had himself replaced the deceased Randy Rhoads. Randy Rhoads remains Zakk Wylde's foremost guitar-playing and stagecraft influence.
Zakk Wylde gravitated toward a particular Les Paul guitar, which has become known as "The Grail"; his bullseye-painted 1981 Gibson Les Paul Custom. Zakk 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. Zakk 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 Zakk. The Grateful, Zakk Wylde gave the fan his signature model in exchange.
In 1995, Zakk Wylde auditioned for Guns N' Roses. He was replaced in Osbourne's band by Joe Holmes from 1995 until his return in 2001. In January 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 Guitar World magazine, discussing his techniques and equipment, as well as transcribing riffs and solo sections. After auditions in 2004/2005, Ozzy Osbourne announced Zakk Wylde as the official guitarist for his album Black Rain, which was released in 2007. On stage with Ozzy, Zakk has been credited for lending a high level of energy and passion to his performances.
Black Label Society headlined the second stage at the 2006 Ozzfest, with Zakk Wylde playing double duty with Ozzy Osbourne on certain dates. He also joined Ozzy 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.
Since 2014, Zakk Wylde has led a Black Sabbath cover band called Zakk Sabbath, handling guitar and vocal duties, joined by Rob "Blasko" Nicholson on bass and Joey Castillo (Danzig, Queens of the Stone Age) on drums, who replaced original drummer John Tempesta. JP Gaster (Clutch) occupied the drummer's seat in between, in September 2017. The band tours intermittently, and released a single, three-track vinyl-only live 12", in 2016.
Zakk Wylde and his wife, Barbaranne, have four children: Hayley Rae, Hendrix, Sabbath Page, and Jesse. Ozzy Osbourne is Jesse's godfather. Zakk is a Roman Catholic who has described himself as a "Soldier of Christ". Zakk Wylde was a close friend of fellow guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott and dedicated the song "In This River" to Dimebag after he was murdered on stage in 2004.
In August 2009, Zakk was hospitalized due to blood clots and was subsequently forced to cancel his tour with Mudvayne and Static-X. After his hospitalization, he stopped drinking alcohol. As of 2011, Zakk Wylde has partnered with Blair's Sauces and Snacks to produce "Berserker" hot sauce and several variations. He also promotes Death Wish Coffee via his Instagram page, as they have used his name in marketing their line, "Odinforce Blend".
Zakk Wylde is known for his use of Gibson Les Paul Custom model guitars, equipped with EMG -81 and -85 active pickups, with his signature black-and-white "bulls-eye" graphic on them, a design he used to differentiate himself visually from Randy Rhoads – who was also frequently identified by his cream-colored Les Paul Custom, the guitar Zakk Wylde has used since he was 12 years old. The "bulls-eye" paint job was originally supposed to look like the spiral from the Alfred Hitchcock movie Vertigo, but when it came back incorrect from the paint shop, he liked the result and decided to keep it. One of Zakk 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.
Zakk Wylde's signature Gibson Les Paul 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 Metaltronix Amplification. Metaltronix was building a one-off live rig for Zakk 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".
Zakk 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 in 2004; since receiving the guitar, he has only ever used it on stage to play the song "In This River", Zakk's personal tribute to Dimebag. In practice, Zakk Wylde uses Marshall MG Series practice combos ranging in wattage levels from 10-30W during tour/private use especially in hotels and buses.
He has also been known to use Marshall Valvestate combo amplifiers. Zakk Wylde has an extensive relationship with Marshall Amplification due to his love for their amplifiers, both solid state and tube-driven. Live, Zakk 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 > (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.
At the 2015 NAMM Show, Zakk 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.
Zakk Wylde has made guest appearances on various albums by other artists:
He played "White Christmas" on the Merry Axemas 2 Christmas guitar album.
Zakk Wylde was a judge for the eighth annual Independent Music Awards. His contributions helped assist independent artists' careers.
He contributes a guitar solo on the track Steep Climb on Eric Gales' 2014 album "Good For Sumthin".
On August 1, 1993, at Great Woods Amphitheatre in Mansfield, Massachusetts, Zakk 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. Zakk 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, Zakk Wylde and Nick Catanese began a tour of acoustic shows at the Hard Rock Cafe in various cities across North America. Although Nick Catanese had to leave mid-tour due to unspecified personal reasons, Zakk 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 May 14, 2011, Zakk Wylde performed the U.S. national anthem at Rockfest in Kansas City, Missouri.
Wylde appeared onstage December 8, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana, 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 late 2014, Zakk 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. Zakk Wylde performed "Manic Depression", "Little Wing", and "Purple Haze", as well as playing with many of the other performers.
Zakk Wylde appeared in the Californication episode "Suicide Solution" in 2011, credited as "Guitar Guy".
Zakk Wylde appeared in the 2010 film Bones as Jed, Bones' uncle.