Zakk Wylde & Black Label Society Biography
Last updated: 11/23/2011 11:00:00 AM
Zakk Wylde was born Jeffery Philip Wielandt to a Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Wielandt on January 14, 1967 in Bayonne and raised in Jackson, New Jersey. He also has a sister, Amy. Zakk was given the nickname “Flip,” short for his middle name Phillip, by his dad. This is what friends and family called him. 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 coach’s son, LeRoy Wright. And later 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 Ozzy’s “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 and doing roofing, and playing in various bands. That’s when Zakk began to write originals and joined a band called “Zyris” replacing guitarist Dave Linsk who left to form his own band and is currently playing for Overkill. Upon joining Zyris is when he started calling himself Zakari Wyland. He got the name from the TV show Lost In Space’s character Dr. Zachary Smith. Zyris played original material as well as covers by their favorite bands, like: Black Sabbath & Led Zeppelin. It was at that time Zakk gave guitar lessons in Jackson, New Jersey. Zyris played some, but not many gigs in the southern Jersey area. Many believed they toured up and down the whole eastern coast of Jersey, but that is not true, though they did get a special gig at the infamous “Stone Pony” made popular by Bruce Springsteen, and Bon Jovi.
Hearing on the Howard Stern Show that Ozzy would be auditioning unknown guitarists, Zakk never thought it to be more than a fantasy. At one Zyris show Zakk was discovered playing by rock photographers Mark Weiss and Dave Feld. Amazed at Zakk’s playing, Dave confronted Zakk, and mentioned that Ozzy was looking for a new guitarist and that they would pass along a press kit. Zakk got the audition with Ozzy. He took the audition figuring, “Well I’m only working at a gas station, what do I got to lose?!” During the audition Zakk played a few Ozzy songs and some acoustic and classical stuff. After the audition he returned home thinking he didn’t get the job. One day he received a phone call from Sharon Osbourne asking if he would join the band.
Zakk had joined up with Ozzy at the age of 20, in May of 1987. It was then he was given the last name “Wylde”, which he was called for obvious reasons. Ozzy introduced Zakk as his new guitarist at the Hard Rock Café in New York City, on Dec.15, 1987. Zakk Wylde made his debut with Ozzy Osbourne on album in 1988 with "No Rest For The Wicked." Zakk quickly became a big name in the guitarist community, due to his instantly recognizable guitar sound and style.
In 1989, Zakk got to tour the world playing guitar for Ozzy. He basically went from an unknown kid playing small clubs in New Jersey, to playing huge arenas. Ozzy and his band were booked to play the Moscow Peace Festival during the summer of 1989, along with Skid Row, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, and the Scorpions, among many other bands. The live E.P. "Just Say Ozzy" was released in 1989. It featured Ozzy, Zakk, Geezer Butler, and Randy Castillo playing three No Rest For The Wicked tunes, a version of the Jake E. Lee penned song "Shot In The Dark" from The Ultimate Sin, which is universally recognized as way better than the studio version, and two Black Sabbath classics, "War Pigs," and "Sweet Leaf."
In 1990, Ozzy, Zakk, Randy, and Bob Daisley & 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 best performances. From the mega-hit title track with the amazingly breathtaking solo, to the thunderous Mr. Tinkertrain, and the mellow acoustic ballad Mama, I'm Coming Home, the album was perfectly balanced. Zakk's style changed a lot from No Rest For The Wicked until No More Tears. There is more of a southern rock style "chickin' pickin'" element to his playing that was virtually nonexistant on most of No Rest.
The tour for No More Tears, aptly titled "No More Tours" was billed to be Ozzy's final farewell tour. He was in the best shape he had been in in years, completely sober (except for a pill-popping problem that was not known by the public at the time), eating healthy, excersizing, and boxing, etc. Ozzy's voice was in top condition, he was moving around and jumping onstage more than he ever had. The energy was there. Zakk, Mike, and Randy clicked perfectly. Many beleive this to be Ozzy's best line-up to date.
The band went back into the studio during the tour to record a few new studio tracks that were to be included as bonus tracks to the live album they were going to release. The studio tracks that were recorded, "Aimee," and "See You On The Other Side," one of which containing Jeff Scott Soto (of Yngwie Malmsteen fame) on backing vocals. More tracks are beleived to be recorded back then, but no titles are available. Unfortunatly, the songs were not released on Live & Loud, and as a matter of fact, those 1992 versions of the songs have never been released. Live & Loud was a double disc set of live recordings from Ozzy's supposed final tour.
Zakk formed a band called Lynyrd Skynhead with James Lomenzo and Greg DeAngelo of White Lion fame in 1992 while he was still with Ozzy. They jammed a bunch of classic rock and southern rock tunes from bands such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Bros, ZZ Top, and Mountain. This lineup recorded the track "Farm Fiddlin'" which appeared on the "Guitars That Rule The World Vol. 1" compilation album, which is now out of print.
On August 1st, 1993, Zakk Wylde got to fill-in for Dickey Betts in the Allman Bros. Band for a show. This show is heavily bootlegged and is an amazing show. Everytime someone mentions Zakk Wylde's numerous bands, the Allmans are always brought up, but in actuality, he only did one show with them.
Greg DeAngelo was replaced by a much better drummer, Brian Tichy in 1994, and the band name was changed to Pride & Glory. Pride & Glory released their self-titled debut (and also final) album in 1994 on Geffen Records. Zakk made an appearance on Headbangers' Ball in 1994 by himself and performed the Pride & Glory song "Machine Gun Man." Pride & Glory, a potent mix of country, southern rock, blues, and heavy metal acheived limited success, although touring with the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, and Whitesnake. James Lomenzo left the band in November 1994 after a tour of Japan.
There was only a 3 day gap before a US Fall tour began, and Zakk found a replacement for James, his long-time friend J.D. Pride & Glory played their final show on December 10th, 1994 in Los Angeles. Slash of Guns N Roses appeared at this show and jammed "Voodoo Chile" and "Red House" with the band. A live album was supposedly recorded and intended for release, but it was scrapped. But the next best thing to a live album, asoundboard recording of one of Pride & Glory's final shows which was recorded on the last Japanese tour is now heavily bootlegged as "Fadin' Away."
In 1995, Ozzy came out of retirement and recruited Zakk, Geezer Butler, and Deen Castronovo to record his next album. Ozzmosis came out in 1995, which featured the pounding leadoff single "Perry Mason." Zakk did not write every single track on the album, though. One of the tracks was written by Steve Vai ("My Little Man"), and several others by different people. The songs "Aimee" and "See You On The Other Side" we re-recorded for Ozzmosis. "Aimee" was released as a B-side track, but was recently added to the 2002 remaster of the album. During the recording from Ozzmosis, Zakk used to go to a restaurant called Brew's in New York after a full day in the studio and jam some stuff he was writing but was unable to use on Ozzmosis, due to obvious reasons. According to Kieran Brew, 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".
It was during this time that Zakk began jamming with a few of the guys from Guns N Roses. Several songs were demoed with the band, including a song with an early version of the riff for "The Rose Petalled Garden." Zakk was torn between joining Guns N Roses, and touring with Ozzy. He waited too long, and Ozzy eventually hired a guitarist by the name of Joe Holmes for the Ozzmosis tour. Zakk received a message from Guns N Roses that his services would not be needed.
Also, around this time Geffen Records was wanting a new album from Zakk. He decided to record and release all of the excess material that he had laying around, which became "Book Of Shadows" Zakk called up former Pride & Glory bassist and asked him to play on the album, and Joe Vitale, veteran drummer from Joe Walsh and Crosby, Stills & Nash was recruited to play on the album as well. "Book Of Shadows" was released in 1996 on Geffen Records. Nick Catanese, a guitarist from Pittsburg emailed Zakk enquiring on whether he needed another guitarist or not, and he actually got the job playing backing guitar for Zakk on the B.O.S. tour. Zakk started jamming an unreleased song live in 1997 called "Spoke In The Wheel. "During this tour, a drummer by the name of Phil Ondich met Zakk in California.
Towards the end of the tour in Roanoke, Virginia, Phil met Zakk a second time and gave him a tape of him playing with a a band called Raging Slab. Outside of a radio station there in Roanoke, Zakk jammed a new song on acoustic called "Beneath The Tree." Phil kept time for Zakk by patting his hands on his legs loudly. A recording exists of this rare performance, but it has never seen the light of day. Zakk did a solo electric Japan tour in the Fall of 1997 with Nick on rhythm guitar, Ian Mayo on bass, and Brock Avery on drums. 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 beleived to be bootlegged, but no video has turned up anywhere.
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. Mysteriously, the entire band was let go without reason by the Ozzy camp after they got back from Japan. They were supposed to play Ozzfest '98 in the US, but this never happened. Zakk went to Italy in early May 1998 to do a one-off show by himself, and then he called up Phil Ondich (due to Nick Catanese recommending him as the drummer to use...) and what became Sonic Brew was recorded in May 1998 in Miama, FL. Zakk loved the lyrics on the song "Beneath The Tree" that he had jammed with Phil in Roanoke the previous year, so he wrote a new song and kept the lyrics for it.
This haunting song was recorded during a huge thunderstorm, and it was eerie as hell. You can tell that the creepy feel of the song was most-likely inspired by the setting in the studio that night. Zakk and Phil decided to call the band "Hell's Kitchen" and the album was to be called "Sonic Brewery." Phil designed all of the artwork and layed out the booklet for the album. But, after a few weeks, it was decided that they were changing the band name to Black Label Society, because they were unable to get a trademark for the Hell's Kitchen moniker.
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 hieve 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), an awesome album cover that was printed on clear plastic, with a seperate 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 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 to remix it for the US release. Zakk and Phil decided to give the USA an extra bonus track for the album, and went to the studio in California and recorded "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.
The band needed a bass player, so Zakk put out an ad in all 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 J.D. as BLS' bass player. Black Label Society's lineup was now complete. Zakk, Nick, J.D., and Philth.
BLS performed their first ever show in Japan on May 1st, 1999 at Club Quattro, Shibuya Tokyo. On the final Japanese date of that tour, Stephen Pearcy, lead (out of key) singer of the washed-up '80's band Ratt joined BLS onstage for an encore of Black Sabbath's "Paranoid." After the Japanese tour, BLS went to Europe for a tour, playing for what was probably their largest crowd they've played before and since, Dynamo Open Air '99.
After the European tour, the American tour dates that were scheduled all got cancelled, and there was a wait before the US tour. A rumor was put out that said that Phil had broken his arm while jet-skiing; this was a completely untrue rumor. As a matter of fact, Phil doesn't even jet-ski. Around the same time, the Johnny Walker whisky company issued a cease and desist order to Zakk on the album cover, which looked just like a bottle of Johnny Walker's black label whisky.
The 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 wanted to buy the new version of the album. Zakk, Phil, and Mike Inez recorded the song "No More Tears 2000" as a bonus track. The reissue of the album could be bought at merchandise stands on the tour before it could be found in stores. A guitar pick was inside of the early pressings of the reissue as an added bonus to those who got it early. Black Label Society finally kicked off their tour of the US in mid September 1999, with the band Loudmouth opening for them for 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 was wrapped up without a hitch.
In the winter of 1999/2000, Zakk and Philth headed to the studio in California to cut their sophmore effort "Stronger Than Death." Mike Piazza, catcher for the NY Mets was hanging with them in the studio, and recorded backing vocals/growls on the title track. Axl Rose was actually in the studio next to theirs and hung out with them on several occasions, but no collaboration occured. Phil did all of the artwork yet again on the album. Stronger Than Death was released in Japan on March 8th 2000, and in the United States on April 18th 2000. J.D. decided to leave the band to persue other interests, and he was replaced by Steve "S.O.B." Gibb, son of Berry Gibb from the BeeGees. Black Label Society 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 an amazing cover of Ozzy's "Demon Alcohol."
After the Japanese tour ended on June 21st, the US tour began right away and there was no break. The entire band came back from Japan sick. The first show was June 23rd, to a packed crowd at The Sun Theater in Anaheim. About 5 songs into the set, Phil collapsed from his kit due to his stomach flu and exhaustion. Craig Nunenmacher of the band Crowbar (who were touring with BLS) came back on stage and played a few Sabbath songs with BLS, and the show ended. The next 2 shows were cancelled, and then the band returned, playing what some say were their best shows to date. When BLS got to Indiana on July 6th, 2000, about 3 songs into the set, there was a brawl on stage between Zakk and Phil, and Phil was fired from the band. They did a few Sabbath songs with Craig on drums again, and he replaced Phil as BLS' drummer from that point on.
"Alcohol Fueled Brewtality Live", BLS' live album was recorded in October of 2000, and was released on January 16th, 2001. Black Label Society was added to Ozzfest 2001 that summer as the main stage opener. Superterrorizer was recorded at one of the Ozzfest shows and added to the live Ozzfest 2001 cd; the track featured an intro which later became the song "Battering Ram." Steve Gibb left the band mid-Ozzfest tour, and was replaced by former Ozzy/Alice In Chains bassist Mike Inez. Mike Inez had to fly back to California because he had obligations with another band, and the bass tech, Frey Theiler filled in on a few dates towards the end of Ozzfest.
During Ozzfest, Zakk recorded a few demos with a guy by the name of Christian Werr on drums, to show Ozzy, for possible inclusion on Ozzy's next album. Ozzy rejected these tunes, 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 with an unknown title. The latter two tracks were never released. Robert Trujillo, who played bass with Zakk in Ozzy's band, played on "Life/Birth/Blood/Doom" as well.
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 as the "Merry Mayhem" tour.
Somewhere around this time, either before or after the Merry Mayhem tour, Zakk and Craig went into the studio 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. The album was released on March 5th, 2002.
Black Label Society are currently on the mainstage of Ozzfest 2002, with Robert Trujillo, also Ozzy's bassist, playing bass for them. You can also catch Zakk playing with Ozzy's band as well.