Wylde-Man Guitarist Is Married With Children



By Steve Newton

My earliest memory of drinkin’ beer goes back to when I was about seven or eight. Don’t panic, I wasn’t wasted. I just recall sampling the warm dregs of my dad’s Black Label stubby while watching an Original Six NHL game on the tube. It was the worst-tasting thing I’d put in my mouth up until that point, rabbit turds mistaken for raisins being the second.

Metal guitarist Zakk Wylde loves the Carling brew so much that he named his band after it. Black Label Society-which plays a sold-out Commodore Ballroom on Sunday (May 1)-is a hardcore headbanger’s delight, having sold more than a million copies of its earbustin’ CDs since its inception in ’99.And when he’s not fronting BLS, the New Jersey native stakes his claim in the hard-rock pantheon as Ozzy Osbourne’s bringer of the noise. He’s been Ozzy’s guitarist and cowriter since he was 19, which was only five years after he first discovered the joys of a cranked Les Paul by way of his football coach’s son. “He just started playing ‘Crazy Train’ and ‘Eruption’,” Wylde explains on the phone from Dallas, “and to see somebody physically do it was mind-blowing to me.”

It was around this time that Wylde realized he was too small to fulfill his dream of being a pro linebacker, so he spent upwards of 12 hours a day practising his newfound instrument. While playing a Jersey club in ’86, he met a rock photographer who offered to get Wylde’s demo tape to Osbourne, and before long he was flying out to England to begin writing with the metal legend. “I just wanted to get an autograph,” Wylde recalls, “let alone be in a band, ’cause I love the guy so. But, uh, the rest is history now.”

Wylde went on to tour all around the world with Ozzy, and he contributed heavily to top-selling albums like No More Tears. In the process, he’s received many accolades, including being chosen by Guitar Player magazine as among the best guitarists ever, of which he quips: “That’s what payola will do for you.”

Between his tireless work for Ozzy and his commitments to his own band-as well as recent guest appearances on CDs by Damageplan and Fozzy-the unkempt rocker has little time for personal grooming. “There’s a reason why I got the beard,” he points out. “You oughta see my ass hair.”

Though he comes off as the epitome of the wild-eyed, rowdy rocker, Wylde describes himself as “the Al Bundy of rock ‘n’ roll” (he’s married with children). His offspring includes a two-year-old son named Hendrix Halen Michael Rhoads and a 12-year-old daughter who takes piano lessons from Dolores Rhoads, mother of the legendary Randy. “My daughter just got her period,” the impulsive picker notes, “so now the drinkin’ problem has definitely escalated.”

BLS’s fifth and latest studio CD, Mafia, boasts the kind of heavy, Sabbath-inspired riff metal Wylde grew up loving. It also includes a heartfelt ballad titled “In This River”, which, though it was written before Damageplan guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott was assassinated on-stage last year, has become a tribute to Wylde’s fallen friend.

“I just looked at the lyrics,” he says, “and it will always be his song now. I mean, it was written before all the stuff went down, but I sing it every night live on-stage, and I use the guitar that Dime got me, ’cause he was all psyched about, ‘Zakk, wait till you see this guitar I got for ya!’

“He’s just up in God’s tavern right now,’ Wylde continues, “keepin’ the beer on ice for us all till we get up there. ‘Cause you know he’s got the best jukebox, and then also the drinks are free. But the thing is, there won’t be any Crown Royal left for us by the time we get up there ’cause Dime will have already drank it with everybody, you know what I mean?”

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