Zakk Wylde Recounts How Failing To Join GUNS N' ROSES Made BLACK LABEL SOCIETY Happen
Zakk Wylde recorded his debut solo album Book Of Shadows in 1996 after the breakup of his former band Pride & Glory. Wylde at that point had already done a stint with Ozzy Osbourne between 1987 and 1992, and in 1995 was recording the Ozzmosis album with the Prince Of Darkness himself. Though in the midst of all this, Wylde was a contender to join Guns N' Roses.
The audition would ultimately fail, Wylde wouldn't continue on with Ozzy, and in 1998 Wylde would form Black Label Society. Wylde recounts how all these things converged and how his band came to be in an interview with Musicians Institute.
"I'd known the guys, on and off, for years when I first came out here [to California] and I started playing with the Boss [Ozzy Osbourne]. So I met Slash and I met Duff and we became friends and everything like that, and that's when Guns was just starting to blow up. So I've known the guys, and, obviously, when I ran into 'em every now and then, when we were all drinking, it's always good to catch up with the guys and everything like that. And I knew Steven. So then, after that, I met Matt; he was playing with The Cult. It's a small group of people that you end up running into and you just become friends and stuff like that.
"The guys were just talking one day, and Axl was telling me — I'd never met Axl before — and Axl was just saying, him and Slash were talking, like, 'Who else would you wanna get on guitar?' And I guess my name came up. 'Why don't we ask Zakk what's going on?' And Axl was, like, 'All right. I'll call him up.' So Axl ended up getting my phone number and called me up: 'Hey, Zakk, man. It's Axl. I just wondered if you wanted to get together and jam with the guys.' And I said, 'Yeah. No problem.' So we ended up jamming. We were recording Ozzmosis at the time. And so we were jamming on and off. We were recording the record, we were doing Ozzmosis, having a blast doing that, and then in between, when I'd come back out to L.A., I'd end up hooking up with the guys and we'd jam down at the rehearsal hall. So it was just ideas floating around. But nothing was happening there with the GUNS guys. And then Ozz was going, 'Zakk, listen, we're gonna get ready to tour. Are you gonna jam…?' Ozz was, like, 'You can do both, but, Zakk, I've gotta have an answer, if you're gonna be jamming with them and me. This ship leaves twelve o'clock Monday. Are you gonna be ready to go or not?' I couldn't get an answer from the fellows, and everything was up in the air, and Ozz was, like, 'I've gotta get somebody else in here, man.' So that was it. So I was just sitting around, going, 'What am I gonna do? I've got all these riffs laying around. I'm not playing with Ozz right now. I'm not doing the GN'R thing. Fuck it.' And then I came up with Black Label Society. So that's basically how Black Label was born right there. I was, like, 'What am I gonna do?' 'Cause I did the Book Of Shadows thing, and I was, like, 'I'm not ready to be a singer-songwriter, James Taylor kind of [artist]. I'm not ready for that yet, as much as I love doing it.' I was just, like, 'I still wanna do riffs and I still wanna do heavy stuff, mixed in with the mellow stuff as well, obviously.'"
Now the real question – what would've happened if Wylde joined Guns N' Roses? Would there have been another record after The Spaghetti Incident in 1993? Would it have been way heavier? How many pinch harmonics would it have?