ZAKK WYLDE: The Best Thing For RANDY RHOADS Was Hookin’ Up With Ozzy OSBOURNE

Steven Rosen of recently conducted an interview with Zakk Wylde (BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, OZZY OSBOURNE). A few excerpts from the chat follow below. You recorded “Iron Man” with William Shatner for his “Searching For Major Tom” album. What was that like?

Zakk: We had Father Shatner and we beamed him aboard the Black Vatican and we had him come over there. One of the guys that was working on it, I knew him years ago and he said, “Zakk, I’m workin’ with William Shatner. Would you want to do this thing with ‘Iron Man’?” I said, “Yeah, of course, dude.” William Shatner was part of my childhood growing up. I used to go to the “Star Trek” conventions and all this other stuff so we were talkin’ about that when he was there and everything and he was just laughing. A super-cool guy. You know what’s so crazy? I’m thinking like he’s Jimmy Page‘s age, 67 or 68, a couple years older than Ozz. Dude, [Shatner‘s] 80 years old and when you see him he’s walkin’ fine and he looks like he’s about 58 years old. A really super-cool guy. I’m fortunate that I met like all my heroes and I caught ’em all on a good day. You appear on the “Thirty Years After The Blizzard” DVD blazing through some of Randy‘s [Rhoads] licks.

Zakk: Nothin’ for nothin’, the best thing for Randy was hookin’ up with Ozzy. Me and J.D. [BLACK LABEL SOCIETY bassist] were talkin’ about it. “Where is he putting ‘Diary Of a Madman” on a QUIET RIOT record? Where is he putting ‘Revelation’ on a QUIET RIOT record? Or ‘Over the Mountain’ or ‘Goodbye to Romance’?” To me, we were trying to figure out what QUIET RIOT sounded like and I actually heard a song. You know who they sound like? SWEET. Remember that band? I listened to those QUIET RIOT records and go, “It doesn’t like sound QUEEN” but you hear influences. And you know what was so funny was you listen to all of that and ZEPPELIN was at the height of their massiveness and Randy wasn’t into ZEPPELIN at all. No ZEPPELIN anywhere or SABBATH. Randy even said it. He goes, “‘I never liked BLACK SABBATH.'” He loved Alice Cooper and Leslie West. I remember reading that in Guitar Player magazine that he loved Leslie West and he mentioned Steve Lukather and he mentioned Earl Klugh. He was talking about Eddie and said, “Man, I really dig Eddie Van Halen. I really love his playing” and stuff like that. He mentioned Leslie West and he goes, “Man, it just sounds so mean and nasty the way he played the blues.” You bring up the point that no one ever seems to mention — that Randy really flourished once he joined Ozzy‘s band. In QUIET RIOT, to be honest, Randy was just another good guitar player floating around Los Angeles.

Zakk: Neil Zlozower [famous rock photographer] had seen him and he goes, “I know you love Randy and he’s your guy but I saw him back in the day with QUIET RIOT and it was just like, ehhh.” Just like pretty much what you’re saying. Exactly.

Zakk: Because Eddie Van Halen was just destroying everybody. Then Neil took those classic pictures of Randy sitting on the couch with all his guitars, and he said, “Zakk, when I took those pictures when they played the Inglewood Forum [17,000-seat arena], I went, ‘What did they do? Just lock him in a room for like 12 hours and make him play guitar?'” He goes, “Zakk, it didn’t even sound like the same guitar player.'” And nuttin’ for nuttin’ but you listen to those QUIET RIOT records and then you listen to “Diary” and “Blizzard”? It’s like, “Ahh, get outta here — this isn’t the same guitar player.” Randy changed dramatically when he started working with Ozzy.

Zakk: When you listen to Randy‘s live solo, it has snippets of all his unique traits that he had in his playing. I’m talking about the actual live solo in “Suicide Solution”. Me and J.D. were listening to it and I was like, “Dude, it’s all in there.” Just snippets of the diminished stuff; him muting with the scales; him with the legato and classical stuff. Just in that short little guitar solo; it’s amazing. You really liked Randy’s live sound?

Zakk: I thought it was better than the “Blizzard Of Ozz” sound; I think the live sound was way better. Because the chorus that he had on his guitar just sounded huge, massive and warm. I think the actual production overall was better on the “Diary Of A Madman” album. Mind you it was the second album. It’s like when I listen to BLACK LABEL records, I know for a fact that this last album we did production-wise and fidelity-wise is the best sounding record I’ve ever done. Because I listen to all of ’em back to back and it’s like when you listen to ZEPPELIN records. They all have their own unique character but definitely “Zeppelin IV” [is the one]. If you were gonna say to Jimmy [Page], “You can only leave one record for people to know what you did on this planet,” you’ve gotta leave that one because the production is beyond phenomenal; the songwriting is amazing; and the stars aligned when they did that album. That’s their “Sgt. Pepper’s”, you know what I mean? With METALLICA, it’s the Black album; with GUNS [N’ ROSES], it’s “Appetite”; and with AC/DC, it’s “Back In Black”. The production and the writing is amazing. It’s a marriage of all the things that make it great.

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