There is tons of great stuff Black Label Society frontman and Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Zakk Wylde contributed to during his ongoing legendary career. In his recent interview with Metal Hammer, the guitarist named the 10 songs that define his career.
Zakk Wylde is known for his contributions to the Black Sabbath legend Ozzy Osbourne, as well as being the lead guitarist and lead vocalist of his thrash metal band Black Label Society. Since the year his career began, Wylde released a lot of unique stuff under the name of Zakk Sabbath, Pride & Glory, Black Label Society, as a solo musician, and being a part of Ozzy Osbourne.
Wylde’s first connection with Osbourne was back in 1988, the time Ozzy Osbourne was preparing to release his fifth studio album, No Rest For The Wicked. While Ozzy‘s fifth album was marking Zakk Wylde‘s debut, the guitarist recorded 5 studio albums with the singer. Wylde also appeared in Ozzy‘s 3 different live albums during that period.
Except for Ozzy, Zakk Wylde has released 2 different solo albums as a solo musician so far. His Pride & Glory release was the self-titled 1994 album. Since his early years with Black Label Society, Zakk Wylde has released 11 studio albums. However, let’s see what are the 10 songs that define Zakk Wylde’s career, according to him.
Zakk Wylde Names 10 Songs That Define His Career
At the beginning of the interview, Wylde mourned guitar legends such as Eddie Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, and Chuck Berry. Saying that they all were inspirational, Wylde revealed how great they were.
“I’m just doing what the guys before me did,” Zakk said. “Chuck Berry came out and inspired Jimi Hendrix, then Hendrix inspired people like Eddie Van Halen. The guys that came before lift you up on their shoulders so you can take playing to another level – that’s how this all works.”
1. Ozzy Osbourne – Miracle Man
The first song Zakk Wylde named that has defined his career was from Ozzy Osbourne‘s fifth and Zakk Wylde‘s first album with him, No Rest For The Wicked. The album was a huge success of The Prince Of Darkness, just like the others. It was certified 3x Platinum in total.
When Zakk started the interview, he said that he wanted to name Miracle Man the first song that defined his career. Saying that it was a special piece for him, Zakk added that it was crazy to be in a huge studio like that.
“If we’re talking about the 10 songs that tell my story, we’d have to start with Miracle Man as that’s the first song I wrote with Oz,” he says. “Hearing that on the radio the first time was pretty insane; I’d never made a record before that or even been in a studio of that magnitude.”
2. Ozzy Osbourne – Mama, I’m Coming Home
The second song Zakk Wylde named one of the songs that have defined his career was another song by Ozzy Osbourne, Mama, I’m Coming Home. The song was from Osbourne‘s sixth studio album, No More Tears, which marked Wylde‘s second release with him. It has over 57-min listening time and 11 songs in total.
Sharing a golden memory about the recording process of the song, Wylde took fans back to the time they were working at his apartment. He said that Osbourne‘s vocals on the album were insane.
“Oz and I worked on Mama I’m Coming Home in my apartment, which at the time I shared with my girlfriend – now wife – Barbaranne,” he recalls. “We’re sitting on my piano in my apartment and we wrote it right there, but when we recorded it on record it all got converted back into guitar.
“Listening to the finished version of it, I remember just being like ‘wow’ and then Ozzy’s vocal comes in and is just unbelievable. He got some great vocal melodies on that album – just check out the harmonies on Time After Time.”
3. Pride & Glory – Losin’ Your Mind
The third song, Losin’ Your Mind, was from the only studio album of the band’s self-titled album, Pride & Glory. Touching on the late guitarist Randy Rhoads‘ impact on Ozzy, Zakk Wylde explained why a song like that would never fit into an album of his best friend Ozzy.
“The framework of what Ozzy does was all set by Randy Rhoads on those first two Ozzy albums,” he reveals. “That’s the template for how an Ozzy car is made, but you can make tweaks on that design to do something different – like what Jake did with Bark At The Moon.
“At the same time, that means something like the banjo intro to a song like Losin’ Your Mind would never really fit into how an Ozzy record should look or sound. It’s too much of a southern rock flavouring, even if on a song like Mama I was putting a bit of a country spin on the guitars, bringing a bit of a Allman Brothers Melissa type thing into it.”
4. Zakk Wylde – Between Heaven And Hell
Zakk Wylde chose his song Between Heaven And Hell as the fourth song that has defined his career. It was taken from his debut solo release Book Of Shadows. Recalling where the inspiration for the song came from, Wylde admitted that those were pretty good times.
“We were working on Ozzmosis when I started writing the Book of Shadows record,” he says. “We’d record all day, then at night I’d go over to this bar called Brew’s. I’d be in there until four, five in the morning most days and the sun would be coming up as I was drinking. They had this great jukebox stocked with Neil Young, The Eagles, Bob Seger, the Stones… classic rock, all this killer mellow stuff.
“I’d spend all night drinking then go back to my hotel room inspired and that’s how Book Of Shadows came about. It was a singer-songwriter, James Taylor type thing while I was working on it. I loved some of the vocal melodies and the Neil Young harmonica on Between Heaven And Hell was so much fun too. I think any great musician is a reflection of the stuff they truly love and that really holds true for that album.”
5. Black Label Society – A Spoke In The Wheel
The fifth song was from his band Black Label Society, A Spoke In The Wheel. It was released on the band’s 1998 release Sonic Brew. According to Zakk Wylde, it was one of those songs that defined his career.
“The first Black Label Society song I ever wrote was A Spoke In The Wheel, if you can believe it,” Zakk says. “A mellow song! I was sitting in a hotel in Japan doing promotion for Book Of Shadows, just up in my room with my electric guitar. Over the years we converted that into piano, but on the record it’s just an acoustic and single vocal – looking back on Black Label, that’s where it all began.”
In the continuation of his words, Wylde revealed where the idea of the song came from. Saying that the inspirations of the song were Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Cream, and Deep Purple, Wylde also admitted that riffs dictated the song.
“The idea then is still the same idea today – the Black Label Society soup all starts with a riff, that’s the foundation of the song,” he adds. “The guiding lights for me are Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Cream and Deep Purple.
“Those riffs dictate the song – look at something like Smoke On The Water, or Paranoid or Sunshine Of Your Love – that riff is probably the very first heavy metal riff, ever. That’s my mount riffmore.”
6. Black Label Society – Stillborn
There is one more Black Label Society song that Zakk Wylde named one of the songs that have defined his career. It was the band’s beloved song Stillborn, which was taken from the band’s fourth album, The Blessed Hellride.
The song has backing vocals from Ozzy Osbourne, and the video of the song was produced by Rob Zombie himself. Wylde calls those moments great funny moments.
“I called Oz and asked him to do the background vocals with me for Stillborn,” Zakk opens. “We did the video for it with Father Rob Zombie which was great fun too. I was just trying to write a song based off a riff and to use as few crayons as possible – if I give you only three ingredients and ask you to make a meal, I’m interested in seeing what you can put together.”
7. Black Label Society – In This River
The seventh song was another Black Label Society track, In This River. The song is taken from the band’s 2005 release, Mafia, which consists of 15 tracks in total. Selling over 250,000 copies in the United States, the album was the number 15 on Billboard Album Chart.
In the interview, Zakk Wylde said that the song is dedicated to the late legends Dimebag Darrel and Vinnie Paul.
“The crazy thing about In This River is that I’d written it before Dime had even passed away, it was all about life in general,” Zakk says. “We dedicate that song every night to Dime, it’ll never leave our sets when we do a headline show.
“These days we dedicate it to Dime and Vinnie, which is crazy too. But when we first wrote it, both of those guys were still with us. But after everything happened, I knew that had to be his song.”
8. Generation Axe [Live]
The eighth piece of the list was Zakk‘s contribution to Generation Axe.
“Probably the most important collab I’ve ever done was joining Generation Axe,” he claims. “Jamming with Yngwie [Malmsteen], Steve Vai, Nuno [Bettencourt] and Tosin [Abasi] was a blast every night.”
9. Zakk Sabbath – Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath is still a great influence on Zakk Wylde, no doubt. As he covered them in his cover band, Zakk Sabbath, the guitarist has huge respect for them. During the interview, he touched on the cover band’s second release, Vertigo, saying that it was the celebration of the first Black Sabbath album. According to Wylde, Black Sabbath was The Beatles of heavy metal.
“Vertigo was all about celebrating the 50th anniversary of that first Black Sabbath record,” Zakk comments. “We went out on tour to play as Zakk Sabbath and when we did that, it’s so obvious how inspiring it is. Re-recording that whole album just reiterated to me that Black Sabbath are the Beatles of heavy metal.
“We even played in Birmingham, Black Sabbath’s home town, on the 50th anniversary of that album, opening with Supernaut. There are two riffs in that song and it’s absolutely phenomenal. Into The Void is ridiculous too – Lord Iommi is the Lennon, McCartney, Bach and Beethoven of riffs.”
10. Black Label Society – Farewell Ballad
The last song Zakk Wylde named that has defined his entire career was Black Label Society‘s Farewell Ballad. The song was from the band’s latest release Doom Crew Inc., which was released in 2021.
Expressing the album’s meaning to him, he didn’t hide his excitement. Admitting that he has been working on that song since 2007, he looked pretty satisfied with the song.
“I was really happy with how Farewell Ballad came out, and that I finally managed to finish it,” he admits. “That song has been sitting around since like 2007 or 2008; I was doing something for Guitar Techniques magazine and needed something to solo over, so I wrote that piece right there.
“Over the years that things has had millions of views and people doing their own versions, absolutely crushing it and doing a great job, so I figured why not actually finish the piece.”