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Zakk Wylde: my playlist - "I guess Smoke On The Water is the one universal riff that we all know"

Zakk Wylde
(Image credit: Scott Legato / Getty)

The Ozzy Osbourne/Black Label Society six-stringer reveals the soundtrack to his journey…

The first song I remember… Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds - Elton John

“I saw him on The Sonny And Cher Show, probably around 1975. This was the first thing to make me realise the power of music. Early Elton was a lethal combination of everything – the songwriting, the musicians involved and then the production of it all. Even today, it still sounds amazing. 

"It all started from there for me, afterwards came all the Sabbath and heavier stuff, which is when I started taking lessons…”

The first song I learned to play… Hey Joe - Jimi Hendrix

“It was probably something really basic on one string to begin with. When I started taking guitar lessons the first songs I learned were Hey Joe and after that Tangerine by Led Zeppelin. 

"Every musician goes on a journey, we all have this point after our formative years where all the magic starts happening. Guitar techniques are a bit like soccer or any sport. You learn how to kick a ball, then how to make curve and all the other tricks. We all start from the same point. The only thing that matters is putting in the work!”

The riff I wish I had written… Smoke On The Water - Deep Purple

“There are so many songs with memorable riffs that you wish you could have written for the publishing alone ha ha! I guess Smoke On The Water is the one universal riff that we all know. 

"I would use the royalties to buy more razors so I can shave my legs. That way I won’t need to spend as much on fishnets and garters while I’m out partying. I really blast through those things and end up with quite the bill.”

The song I tried to learn that I just couldn’t nail... Letters Of Marque - Allan Holdsworth

“He’s number one for ‘impossible’ stuff. Allan’s solos were in a language all of their own. Even when you are watching a video of him doing it, what you hear remains unbelievable and mind-boggling. 

"It doesn’t even matter which song you pick, they’re all completely alien to the rest of us guitar players, but I guess the first album I had was I.O.U. so it would’ve been songs like Letters Of Marque that terrified me!”

The song that reminds me of home... Never Say Die - Black Sabbath

“For some reason, this is the song that always takes me back to New Jersey. The later Ozzy-era albums like Never Say Die! and Technical Ecstasy are their dark-horse records. They might be underrated in ways, but I still love them.”

The greatest example of how powerful a guitar solo can be… Stairway To Heaven - Led Zeppelin

“With Ozzy, I play solos that Tony Iommi, Jake E. Lee or Randy Rhoads wrote. I play them as written, because they make a statement within the song. 

"The solo in Stairway is as much a part of the song as the main melody and lyrics. It’s like that for all great solos… Hotel California is the same.”

The last song I listened to… Mint Condition - Caroline Spence

“There’s a mellow singer/songwriter called Caroline Spence who I like a lot. I just listened to the title track of her last record. It’s not so much about the guitar. The production’s sparse around her killer voice.”

Ozzy Osbourne tours the UK in February 2020 and Black Label Society’s Grimmest Hits is out now via Entertainment One

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