Zakk Wylde: No More Beers
“You know, Ozz used to always say to me, ‘Zakk, for every good thing that’s fuckin’ happened to me, five bad things have happened,’ ” says Wylde, shrugging off his setbacks as if they were as inconsequential as a couple of parking tickets. “You just gotta roll with the punches, man. That’s the only thing you can do at times. Anybody can get knocked down. It’s who can get back up—that’s the whole fuckin’ thing.”
A man of his word, Wylde has bounced back like Rocky Balboa after losing to Apollo Creed. In late August, during a three-day stay at a hospital in Eugene, Oregon, he received critical treatment for blood clots in both lungs and his left leg. A scant three weeks later, Wylde got the thumbs-up from his doctor to return to action, and the man who co-wrote Ozzy’s “I Don’t Wanna Stop” for the 2007 album Black Rain hasn’t stopped since. Guitar World hooked up with the newly sober Wylde during his recuperation for an in-depth talk about his health scare, his replacement by Gus G., the recording sessions he did last year for Ozzy’s next record and his greatest memories of playing with the Blizzard of Ozz.
GUITAR WORLD You looked healthy when you started the Pedal to the Metal tour with Mudvayne and Static-X this past July. When did you start having symptoms of blood clots?
ZAKK WYLDE A couple dates in, my left calf started hurting. I just figured it was from jumping around onstage. Either my feet are killing me, or it’s my back or my shins. I’ve got shin splints, and I’ve always just figured, Give it four or five days and I’ll be fine. Like, who gives a shit? Cop a nice beer glow and you don’t feel nothin’ anyway. When I was onstage with all the adrenaline, I wasn’t feeling shit, but once I got offstage and the adrenaline wore off, I would sit down and I was like, “Damn, my leg is killin’ me.” I kept it elevated and iced it down, and since I didn’t have joint pain, I just figured I had pulled it, because the real pain was right behind my knee. After the shows, I’d crack a couple cold ones and then lie down and go to sleep.
GW When did you decide to see a doctor?
WYLDE After about a week, it got to the point where just getting up in the middle of the night to take a piss was a production. It was almost like someone’s grabbing and squeezing your balls while you’re trying to take a leak—there’s not gonna be any piss comin’ out of that thing, ’cause you’re just too preoccupied with pain.
So on August 14, we were in the middle of Omaha, and before we did this 24-hour drive, I checked my GPS to find out where the nearest hospital was.
GW Did they diagnose the clots right away?
WYLDE Yeah, I went in there, got an ultrasound, and the guy goes, “You got a bunch of blood clots behind your left knee. It goes down into your calf. You got a couple there. And then it goes down into your Achilles tendon.”
GW Had you ever had anything like that before?
WYLDE No fuckin’ way. I was like, “Blood clots?” You usually get that shit if you’re 80 years old or if you stay still too much. When we’re traveling, I’m always stretching, and I work out and do cardio all the time. So it’s just one of them things.
GW Did you stop touring right away?
WYLDE Nah, the doctor gave me [the blood thinner] Coumadin, which is this oral medication that’s supposed to keep the clots from moving upward, because, obviously, you can have a stroke if a clot goes into your head. And then I had to take two shots of this [anticoagulant] right into my stomach every 12 hours. I was giving myself two shots in the stomach every day. It was hysterical, because I was taking the blood thinner, and my leg was killing me because I didn’t have any painkillers, so I was still hitting the sauce. And since I was drinking beer while taking blood thinners, the alcohol was thinning my blood even more. Imean, dude, if I had gotten a paper cut I would have bled all over Kansas City. It would have been a fuckin’ horror movie.