Zakk Wylde Recalls ‘Bizarro Land’ First Gig With Ozzy Osbourne, Remembers Jamming With Geezer, Ozzy & Bill Ward

A total of nine guitar players have passed through Ozzy Osbourne’s band. And, of course, Randy Rhoads is the one with the greatest legacy, setting the bar up high for all the musicians who came into the lineup after his tragic passing. However, at this point, Zakk Wylde is THE Ozzy Osbourne guitar player. But he had to start somewhere, didn’t he? Well, in a recent chat with Metal Hammer, he was reminded of those old days, barely managing to give a straight answer from humorous answers that he’s very well known for.

Reminded of running with a “particular story” about how he got into Ozzy’s band, Zakk responded:

“Oh yeah, telling people that I was Ozzy’s steroid dealer? One day he just goes, ‘I didn’t know you played guitar – how’s about you give me half off and I let you play in my band?!'”

So what about the real version? He offered:

“I got passed along through this radio promoter who was helping to get our album played on radio, but I’d basically have to do the casting couch. It wasn’t pretty, but it got ‘Mama, I’m Coming Home’ to No.1. It’s like they say, it’s all about the art.”

Okay, but for real, all the “casting couch” and “steroid dealer” stories aside (even though they’re incredibly amusing), he offered the “real-real” version of events when reminded of his old band Zyris:

“Oh man, we’d be playing shows to, like, two heroin addicts and the guy who runs the bar. One of the times, [friend and industry man] Dave Feld saw me play and we got to chatting after the show. He’s like, ‘You know Jake [E. Lee]’s just left Ozzy’s band?’ and we’re sitting there in New Jersey just thinking how great it’d be to get a tape to Ozzy. But hey, after that, why not coffee with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, right? We don’t know these fucking people – I’ve got their posters, not their fucking phone numbers! But Dave knew Mark Weiss, and Mark did Ozzy’s photography. So if I could do a tape, he could get it to Mrs. Osbourne.”

Zyris Zakk Wylde PRE Ozzy RARE Mid 1980's glam hair metal LIVE

He then recalled the live debut with Ozzy over at Wormwood Scrubs Prison:

“The whole thing was bizarro land; we performed in front of these fuckin’ lifers. All I could think was, ‘I hope I pass this fuckin audition’; I’m the closest thing to Pamela Anderson these motherfuckers are going to see for the rest of their lives!”

And not long after Zakk joined the band, Black Sabbath bassist got into the lineup as well. The guitarist then remembered how he felt at the time, revealing:

“Geezer joining the band was unbelievable. We played Long Beach one of the days and Bill [Ward, Sabbath drummer] came down to say hi and it was amazing. We all jammed and I was there with Geezer, Ozzy, and Bill – it was like I’d won some sort of fuckin’ MTV contest or something, playing with my heroes.”

Photos: Wikimedia Commons

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.

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