Guitarist Zakk Wylde Talks About the Ozzy Osbourne Farewell Tour That's Coming to Blossom on Sunday

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Guitarist Zakk Wylde Talks About the Ozzy Osbourne Farewell Tour That's Coming to Blossom on Sunday
Mark Weiss
Decades into his career, rocker Ozzy Osbourne has announced that his current tour will be his last. He and his band (guitarist Zakk Wylde, bassist Blasko, drummer Tommy Clufetos and keyboardist Adam Wakeman) have hit the road one final time and bring the farewell tour to Blossom on Sunday.

Calling from a Boston tour stop, Wylde talked about the series of farewell shows that he jokingly referred to as “tap dance extravaganzas.”

How did you wind up on Ozzy’s farewell tour?
Ozzy said, “Gus G. is doing the Firewind thing, and Jake [E. Lee] is doing his thing. Brad Gillis is doing Night Ranger. Bernie Torme is still doing the blues thing. You’re the last option. Do you want to do it?” I said, “Yes.” My buddies go, “Doesn’t it bother you that you’re the last option.” I said, “No. At least, I’m an option.” We did rehearsals, and Ozzy said to me like he said to me when I was 19 years old, “Just play with your heart and make me a ham sandwich and go light on the mustard.” I made him a ham sandwich and went light on the mustard and here we are.

What has enabled you two to form such a solid musical partnership?
It helps that you like the same type of music. I’ve always been a Sabbath fan and I was a Randy [Rhoads] fan, and I loved Jake [E. Lee]. It’s almost like I’ve been a Yankees fan all my life, and [catcher] Thurman Munson was my guy, and now I’m catching for the Yankees. I’ve always loved playing the music. It’s like trying out for the Yankees. You know how sacred it is when you put that uniform on. That’s the way I’ve always viewed it.

These concerts will mark the end of global touring for Ozzy. Talk about what it’s like to play together for what might be the last time.
You know, while you’re in it, you don’t look at it that way. I’m not one of the guys who doesn’t know what he has until it’s gone. I’ve always been grateful for everything I have. I’ve never taken anything for granted. If we were playing the Super Bowl or the sand lot, it doesn’t matter. It’s just another game where we’re going to kill some motherfuckers. When it’s done, we can look back at it. When someone says, “Tonight is an important gig,” I say, “They’re all important.” Whether it’s the first game of the season or we’re 8-0 and playing against one of the worst teams in the NFL, we’re going to fuck some people up, and that’s it. That’s the way we look at it.

You’re a big proponent of heavy metal. Talk about what you like about the genre?
I love all types of music. I love Zeppelin and Sabbath and Bad Company and Allman Brothers. I also listen to Sarah McLachlan and Dido and Crowded House and Joe Pass and Al DiMeola and Elton John and Neil Young. There’s nothing I don’t listen to. I love Sam Cooke and Percy Sledge and all that stuff. At the end of the night, we’ll often put Sinatra on.

At what moment in your career did you come to the realization that this is what you were meant to do with your life?
When I was 14. If I wasn’t as blessed to have Ozzy in my life and the Black Label family, you and me would be in a band. We’d have our wedding band and our cover band. We’d rent a studio and everything would still revolve around music. Back when I was 15 or 16 when I was doing construction or working produce at the super market, it was just a means to an end. I was never miserable at work. I was just getting that much closer to getting an amp or whatever. Not everyone knows what they want to do at a young age. I tell my kids to do whatever you love and have passion for and gets your dick hard. Just because I play music, that doesn’t mean that they have to play music. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s kid doesn’t have to be a body builder. You have to find what you love. It’s the only way you can excel at anything.

It’s a terrific band that’s heading out on this tour. Talk a bit about the other guys and what they bring to the table.
[Drummer] Tommy [Clufetos] crushes it every night. Adam [Wakeman] is terrific on the keyboards. Beside the fact that they’re slamming musicians, we love to hang out with each other, so that usually helps. To be honest with you, I’ve never been in a band where you don’t hang out with each other. Why would you want to be in that relationship? It’s like being with a girlfriend who fucking nags you all the time. I would just be out of there. I would rather go home and jerk off. I’ve got plenty of porn. It’s like, “Fuck you. I don’t need you. I’m outta here.”

Some critics would say that Ozzy belongs in the Rock Hall as a solo artist. What arguments would you make in favor of that?
Well, yeah. When you think about it, none of his peers have done what he’s done. To do the business he does and have the platinum albums. His peers that he did it with aren’t doing that now. He’s the top of the heap. He’s the Frank Sinatra.

Judas Priest and Iron Maiden still aren’t inducted into the Rock Hall. Is there a bias against heavy metal?
Does it even matter that Micky Mantle is in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Everyone already knows he belongs there. My guitar is in the Rock Hall. It’s my first Les Paul. It’s the one I had when I graduated high school. It’s like, “We’ll take the guitar but you, not so much.” But the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is awesome. You celebrate all those bands. You can’t put everyone in in one year because there’s no reason to have another party the next year. Everyone makes such a big deal about it, but there are artists who have sold gazillions of records and had massive success and been a huge part of people’s lives but aren't in there. I think it's just because we can’t put all of them in there in one year. I think they'll get in eventually.

About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]
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