STORY WRITTEN BY GARY GRAFF
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Zakk Wylde may be known for his cro-magnon hard rock with the likes of Ozzy Osbourne and his own Black Label Society. But he has a soft side, too.
The New Jersey-born guitar hero displayed that on his 1996 solo album “Book of Shadows,” and he returned to the acoustic realm again on this year’s “Book of Shadows II.” And the two decades in between just flew by, he says. Wylde performs at the Theatre of Living Arts on Saturday, July 30.
“Well, (Guns N’ Roses’) ‘Chinese Democracy’ took 16 years to put out, so by the time I got to 16 years since (‘Book of Shadows’) I was like, ‘Sixteen’s great. If we get to 20 I can really pad the number,’” Wylde, 49, explains by phone from Orlando, Fla. “So that was the mentality. Twenty years sounded bigger and bolder.
“And if people don’t like the album, it makes a wonderful beer coaster.”
Wylde (real name Jeffrey Wielandt) points out that “we always throw mellow stuff on the Black Label albums, too.” So that means when he sat down to work on “Book of Shadows II” in earnest there was little trouble getting back into an acosutic mindset.
“The one constant between the two albums is, obviously, my love for that style of music — Elton John, the Eagles, Van Morrison, Neil Young, the Allman Brothers, (Lynyrd) Skynyrd, Bad Company’s mellow stuff, Percy Sledge, Sam Cooke, a lot of it,” Wylde explains. “That’s the constant betwee the first (‘Book of Shadows’) and this one. It’s basically just a road-trip record, mellow from begging to end. You can just stick it on and that’s it, nice and mellow.”
Wylde is on the road playing “Book of Shadows” material now, but he’ll be plugging in again in short order. His Black Sabbath tribute band Zakk Sabbath has dates planned with Clutch later this year, and around the holidays he plans to be back in his Black Vatican home recording studio working on the next Black Label Society album. He hasn’t been part of Osbourne’s band since the late 00s, but Wylde says he’s always available for his friend if needed.
“My relationship with Ozz is bigger than the music,” Wylde says. “he’s the godfather of my oldest boy, and if they called me up and said, ‘Zakk, can you clean the dog run, and we’ve got company coming can you get us milk and eggs?’ I’d be over right away.
“If it wasn’t for Ozz I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you right now. I owe him everything. I owe him so much, and if I ever need advice, it’s him and my dad — two of the coolest people on the planet. How lucky can I be, right?”
• Zakk Wylde performs at the Theatre of Living Arts on Saturday, July 30. Show is at 8 p.m. Check http://venue.tlaphilly.com/