Zakk Wylde recently recalled what it was like to audition for Guns N’ Roses in 1995. He spoke about it in a new behind-the-scenes clip from VH1 Classic’s That Metal Show, shown below.
At the time, Zakk had established himself as Ozzy Obourne’s guitarist. But when Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose extended an invitation to audition with the group, Zakk couldn’t refuse. The band at the time included Rose, Slash, Duff McKagan, keyboardist Dizzy Reed and drummer Matt Sorum.
“We just had some ideas laying around, but nothing amounted to where Axl sang on stuff, with lyrics written,” Zakk says. “It was a good time. At that point nothing was going on…with the Boss [Osbourne].”
Zakk’s audition never resulted in an offer to join the band, and when the week was over, he says, “I just had a batch of riffs and ideas laying around. I said, ‘Ah, the hell with it, I’ll do it myself,’ and that’s when Black Label Society was born.”
In the clip, Zakk also shares his favorite Jake E. Lee–era Ozzy tracks and says he happy to see Lee active again with his band, Red Dragon Cartel. “It’s just great that Jake’s playing again and he’s out there doin’ it. He should have never left.”
In addition, Zakk spoke with That Metal Gear host Mark Strigl, as seen in the video below. Their talk touched on Zakk’s first guitar and his musical inspirations, and it included a lengthy discussion about his new audio equipment company, Wylde Audio.
Some things that we learned:
1. Zakk’s first good guitar was a Gibson SG. “Like everybody else, I started out with what was pretty much a beat-up old acoustic with the action about eight feet off the neck.”
2. His first influential musical experience was seeing Elton John perform “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” on Cher in 1975. (Zakk recalls the performance happening on The Sonny & Cher Show, which ended one year before.) “I was just pretty much blown away,” he says of seeing John. “Ever since then, I had to get every Elton John record. That was definitely my first musical experience.”
3. Wylde Audio will create signature models for other guitarists. “Without a doubt,” Zakk says. “Right out of the gate, once we get up and rolling, I’m definitely gonna hook up all my buddies with all the stuff. Without a doubt. Why wouldn’t I?”
4. All components in Wylde Audio products will be made by Wylde Audio, including speakers and tubes. “There’s nothing that we can’t make,” Zakk says. “I mean down to everything: speakers, amps. All speakers have their own characteristics, so anything we want to make there. Same thing with the tubes. We’re doing everything [from scratch].”
Zakk continues to keep us in suspense about the delivery date for the first Wylde Audio products. About the best he’ll say is “soon.”