During a conversation with Guitar World, Ozzy Osbourne told how he decided to recruit Zakk Wylde for his solo band in 1987.
Here’s the thing with me and Zakk: We never fell out. That’s the truth—we’re close. The Wylde family and the Osbourne family are like relatives. I’m a godfather to his son Jesse. Our wives go shopping together. This goes beyond friendship. I know that I can be anywhere in the world at any time, and if my guitar player disappears, I can phone Zakk and he’ll be on the next plane. And I’ll tell you this: We did some gigs last year, and I was blown away. He’s gotten so fucking good. He plays so fast!
I pay Oz to say that. He takes all my per diem money in exchange for compliments. [laughs]
No. Why should there be? Like I said, I can depend on Zakk. No matter where I am, I can call him and he’s there. Does that sound like we’ve got problems?
We don’t have problems. We’ve never had fights—it’s just not like that. People ask me if I’ve got any dirt on Oz, and I really don’t. All it’s ever been is laughing. And listen, here’s the thing: I’m the most grateful fucking guy in the world. Everything that I have is because of Oz and Mom—you know, Sharon [Osbourne]. I’m good with whatever Oz wants. If he needs me to play guitar, or if he wants me to mow the lawn or clean the dog run, I’m there. He knows that.
Here’s the story: When Jake E. Lee left, I put the word out that I needed a guitar player. You can imagine how many guitarists sent in their résumés—it was fucking mind-boggling. So after a while, Sharon started bugging me—“When are you gonna listen to these tapes?” I just didn’t want to deal with it. I’d tell her, “Whatever, whatever.” So one morning I decided, “I gotta do this.” I stuck my hand in a bag and pulled out a tape, and Zakk’s tape was the first and only one I listened to.
It was a good tape. I had the “Mr. Crowley” solo on it and “Crazy Train.” And then I did a bunch of improvising and jammin’. I did it on my buddy’s Fostex.
But then I looked at his picture that came with the tape, and I said, “Oh…another Randy Rhoads clone.”
Oh, yeah. When he met me, he said, “Have I met you before?” He was thinking about the picture. I guess I looked like some kid who loved Randy Rhoads.
That’s what I thought. But when I met Zakk in person, he was a lot different than Randy. And then I heard him play, and that was that. He’s been with me longer than any other guitar player.
No. That’s an impossible question. I just felt that he was the guy. There was an instant spark. Plus, he was funny. The guy could be a fuckin’ comedian.
I played with the band first. We did “Suicide Solution” and “Bark at the Moon.” It was super cool. And then they flew me back out, and that’s when I met Oz. I remember he told me, “Zakk, just play with your heart. And then you can go make me a ham sandwich—and go light on the mustard.” [laughs] Right after that, he poked me in the eyes like the Three Stooges. I said, “Oz, why’d you do that? That hurt.” He goes, “Yeah…so does life. Get used to it.”
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