Zakk Attack: Zakk Wylde Discusses Working with Ozzy Osbourne in 1989 Guitar World Interview
Here's our first interview with Guitar World favorite Zakk Wylde, from the June 1989 issue. The original story, which started on page 34, ran with the headline, "Zakk Attack!"
He could easily be intimidated, following in the footsteps of guitarists with names like Iommi, Rhoads and Lee. But Ozzy Osbourne’s Zakk Wylde is his own man … and already proving it.
Much has happened to Zakk Wylde during the past year. Besides co-writing all eight tunes on his vinyl debut and touring the world behind it, the young New Jersey hotshot established a tight bond and rapport with vocalist Ozzy Osbourne that is sure to boost his performance the next time they record.
Though the current No Rest For the Wicked doesn’t entirely convey Zakk’s full potential, it’s still a fine introduction to a promising player. The wicked wah-wah inversions of “Miracle Man” and the fretboard shattering hot licks of “Devil’s Daughter” are enough to provide clear evidence that Zakk is a man of guitar destiny.
“Ozzy didn’t want my playing to be too over the top,” says Zakk. “I didn’t know him that well as a person when we recorded the album, and I couldn’t force him to accept all my ideas. He didn’t want me to play very fast on every cut. Not that I would’ve -– there’s too many guitarists doing that trip nowadays -– but I really wanted to play a lot more on the album.
"The thing is, Ozzy’s been rocking out since before I was born, so I had to respect his opinion as to what would work in the studio. He just wanted me to be the best musician possible. When he auditioned guitar players, his big gripe was that most everyone played like Yngwie Malmsteen on acid, and that wasn’t what he wanted.
“Everything happened so fast for me,” admits Zakk, who just turned twenty-two this past January. “Black Sabbath is my all-time favorite band and I’m Ozzy’s biggest fan. When I would think about that when recording, it held me back. I didn’t play to the best of my potential, but I’m still happy with how the album turned out.”
Instead of relying on flash-happy fretwork –- an excess common among young players -– Zakk gears his guitar work to meet with the songs’ requirements. Whether wailing furiously or pounding out thick rhythmic slabs over a throbbing backbeat, Zakk obviously has what it takes to play guitar with Ozzy.
“What I like to play nowadays is straight-out pentatonic licks,” he says. “I listen to a lot of new stuff, and it’s such a bore hearing someone just play fast diatonic scales. They usually end up sounding too much like Yngwie.
“I was so into Yngwie when he was in Alcatrazz,” admits Zakk. “I remember saying, ‘That guy wails. I've got to learn those licks.' But then I realized I'd be better off playing something different, because I knew it would be too hard to top, and I didn't want to be compared to him.
"Guitar players should put their egos away at times," he advises. "A lot of fast guys who get compared to Yngwie brag and say stuff like, 'Hey man, I was playing like this five years before Yngwie came out.' I say to them, 'Big deal. What are you gonna do, send out flyers?"
"They have an ego thing of trying to play the fastest scales instead of doing something that doesn't sound like anyone else. I know Yngwie may not have been the first to play like that -- he's integrated the styles of players like Ulrich Roth, Al Di Meola and Ritchie Blackmore into his own trip -- but he's the guy you get compared to.