Rock Legend Zakk Wylde on Coffee Roasting, Adele, and Being a Guitar Hero
Zakk Wylde: A modern guitar hero.
Photo by Justin Reich
This Friday, February 19, former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist and founder of heavy metal band Black Label Society, Zakk Wylde, will take the stage at Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale. Spanning a nearly three-decade career, Wylde walks the line as a guitarist who's mastered his craft, shredding virtually any style, from '80s hair metal all the way to Southern rock in the vein of Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Wylde hasn’t played in South Florida since
“It’s no different than back in the day, when you’re 16 or 17, playing in your buddy’s kitchen; [no different] than going out back and playing a backyard keg party," Wylde relates on playing smaller venues rather than sold-out arenas. "The whole thing to me is that
Hailing from the Garden State, Wylde first picked up the guitar at the age of 8 and hasn’t put it down since. By 21, he was tapped as the successor to the legendary Randy Rhoads, after the departure of guitarist Jake E. Lee, for Ozzy Osbourne, and helped write some of the band’s most popular songs in the late '80s and early '90s, including “Mama I’m Coming Home” and “Miracle Man.”
In the mid-'90s, Wylde formed his own band, Black Label Society, which seamlessly blends the bending guitar riffs he perfected while playing with Ozzy and peppers in Southern rock and '80s power ballads. Aside from creating ear-bleeding metal, Wylde has a softer side, demonstrated best in songs like “In This River,” a tribute to his late friend and former Pantera/Damageplan guitarist Darrell Lance Abbot, AKA “Dimebag” Darrell, as well as the songs “Damage Is Done” and “Layne,” the latter a tribute to late Alice in Chains singer Layne Staley.
Though fans of Wylde may be more accustomed to his wild, frenzied, and devil-may-care attitude, others might know him as an accomplished pianist, a guest star in the acclaimed Showtime dramedy Californication, as well as the Mark Wahlberg-starring film Rock Star.
A lover of coffee, Wylde has worked with New York’s Death Wish Coffee on his own roast. "Blasko [Ozzy Osbourne/Rob Zombie bassist Rob Nicholson] had these buddies over at the coffee shop, and we had this idea to make some slamming coffee," explains Wylde of that venture's origins. "It would be hysterical. I really dig super-dark-roast coffees, and it’s not so much the caffeine; I just want a coffee that I can taste, and they just had that commercial during the Super Bowl [Death Wish Coffee], so that’s cool too.”
He also recently launched his own brand of amps and guitars under the moniker Wylde Audio. Why? “Because they are good… They don’t suck. I’ll take the Pepsi Challenge against anything else, and at worst, it’s going to be just as good as Coca-Cola.”
In short, there's not much Wylde hasn't approached and utterly crushed in his career.
In a smaller venue like Culture Room, fans will be treated to an intimate, up-close musical encounter with their modern guitar hero, who’s expected to play staples from his lone solo record, 1996's Book of Shadows. When I make the suggestion — that he is indeed a guitar hero — Wylde laughs, “We have a running joke. If you just hang around long enough, you’ll have nobody left… It's not because you’re the best; you’re just the only option.”
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The humble shred veteran also recently announced the impending release of his 20-years-in-the-making solo follow-up, Book of Shadows II, to be released this April, so expect to be treated to a few new songs
“When we’d be touring all the time with all the Black Label chapters... they would ask, ‘Hey, Zakk, you ever going to make another one of those Book of Shadows albums?’ Being that it’s the 20-year anniversary, I thought, Why don’t we pump out another one of these records and put a tour behind it?”
Whether they're showing up for a Zakk Wylde show, a Black Label Society show, or something in-between, don't doubt that the Culture Room will be packed to the gills with in-the-know fans looking to take in one of the last of a dying breed: a guitarist with his feet planted in two generations of musicianship and a musical I.Q. second to none. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even hear him belt out an Adele song.
“Are you going to tell me Adele can’t sing?" he quips as we wind down. "You had Barbra Streisand and Celine Dion, and now you have Adele. There is one running theme: They are all badass. It’s all generational… They are all equally devastating.” Correct, Mr. Wylde. You're one of those once-in-a-generation talents too.
8 p.m. Friday, February 19, at Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $25 plus fees. Visit ticketmaster.com.
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