Zakk Wylde Recalls His Old Band Trying to Imitate Bon Jovi, Reveals One Important Thing He Learned From It

Zakk Wylde isn’t exactly the first name that you’d associate with Bon Jovi. Heavy riffs tritone-filled riffs on downtuned guitars with no shortage of pinch harmonics – that’s more of a Zakk’s thing. However, back in his early career days, before he even met Ozzy Osbourne, Zakk did try to copy what Bon Jovi was doing.

Recalling the good old days with his band Zyris in a recent chat with Chaoszine, Black Label Society leader and Ozzy guitarist said that the band kept coming up with new music that sounds like Bon Jovi. But, as we already know, that never stuck and he went on to create his own signature style. Zakk explained (transcript via Ultimate Guitar):

“When somebody says, ‘Hey Zakk, have [you got] any advice for my son or my daughter that’s playing music? ‘I go, ‘Whatever music it is that moves you, that’s what you should be playing. And I know it’s easier said than done… But the whole thing is, when you listen to all the bands that you love, they’re really playing what moves them and [what] they naturally like.

“I remember – before I started playing with Ozz – I remember when we were in Zyris, trying to get signed [to a] label, and we were writing all this Bon Jovi pop-rock kind of stuff. And I go, ‘This can’t be right.'”

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

However, Zakk elaborates that none of the band members were really into Bon Jovi. What’s more, none of them even had a single Bon Jovi album. He adds:

“None of us like that kind of music. I mean, we all liked Zeppelin, Bad Company, Black Sabbath – stuff like that…

“Not one of us in this band owned a Bon Jovi record; we were trying to write Bon Jovi songs because we were trying to get signed. And once again, at least the guys in Bon Jovi are playing music that naturally comes out…

“It doesn’t matter what genre it is – when you look at all the bands that are successful, they’re really playing what they enjoy playing – and that’s why they were successful at it… So, even to this day with Black Label, it’s just – that’s the music I love.”

Zakk Wylde rips amazing guitar solo over Andy James track, EMGtv

Photo: Chicks With Guns Magazine (Cwg.blacklabelsociety.wiltern.nov2010.reed 035 (5221568239)), Koh Hasebe (Richie Sambora, Jon Bon Jovi, and Alec John Such during a concert in 1986)

  • 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.

    View all posts