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SCV, meet your Wylde neighbor

Heavy metal musician and Castaic resident Zakk Wylde is a force of nature

Posted: May 13, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: May 13, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Heavy metal icon Zakk Wylde - from such acts as Ozzy Osbourne and Black Label Society - calls Castaic home. Photo by Associated Press.

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A legendary heavy metal performer once said that if his band moved next door to you, your lawn would die.

Imagine what the neighbors thought would happen to their lawn when heavy metal musician Zakk Wylde moved next door to them in Castaic.

“My next-door neighbors would be doctors, lawyers all kinds of (expletive) like that,” Wylde says. “It was pretty funny. There wasn’t many rock n’ rollers in the neighborhood.”

Heavy metal fans know Wylde as one of the best-known musicians of the genre — leader of the band Black Label Society and the lead guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne for 20 years.

Larger than life barely does him justice.

He’s an intimidating, burly man with long blond hair and a beard that falls to his chest. He looks like a Norseman or a biker or simply a dude you don’t want to mess with.

However, Wylde is a hoot.

If we could print the way he describes his signature guitar tone, we’d be out of business.

He’s a live-life-to-the-fullest family man. And when he’s home, he goes to church.

Yes — he goes to church.

“I’m blessed to be able to do what I do,” Wylde says. “I thank the good Lord when I get up in the morning. I thank him in the middle of the day. And I thank him before I go to bed.”

Wylde, 47, has lived in the Santa Clarita Valley since 1990 or 1991, he says.

“I moved out there before anything was out there — no mall, no nothing,” he says.

The New Jersey-born musician was living in an apartment after first joining Ozzy Osbourne in the late 1980s — Wylde’s first effort with the man he calls “The Boss” was the 1988 double-platinum album “No Rest for the Wicked.”

Playing with Ozzy put some money in his pocket and allowed Wylde and his wife, Barbaranne, to buy a house.

Wylde says his wife fell in love with the Santa Clarita Valley, and it was just close enough for the musician to get to Hollywood quickly for rehearsing and recording with Ozzy, yet far enough away to escape the fast pace of the big city. 

“We love it. ... The schools are cool because we have kids now, and between the schools and its (low) crime rate ... there’s no messing about with that,” Wylde says of the SCV. “I love it out there.”

The couple have four children.

It was around the time that they moved out to Castaic that the Ozzy album “No More Tears” came out in 1991.

The album was a giant hit for Osbourne — one of the great heavy metal albums of the last 25 years.

Wylde is credited as a co-writer on all the songs on the album, including “Mr. Tinkertrain,” “No More Tears” “Road to Nowhere” and “Mama I’m Coming Home” — a song that is co-written by Ozzy and fellow heavy metal legend Lemmy Kilmister (the man credited for the lawn-dying comment).

“Every album I’ve made with ‘The Boss’ and every Black Label album I’ve made have been nothing but an ass-kicking time,” Wylde says.

Black Label Society put out its first album in 1999 and 13th album in April — “Catacombs of the Black Vatican.”
Wylde started more than just a band with BLS — he started a culture.

The characteristic Old English letters “BLS” are among the most recognizable logos in heavy metal.

Wylde calls his cities of fans “chapters” — like the Orlando Chapter, Carolina Chapter, etc.

As a kid, he had a next-door neighbor whose older brother used to crank up Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Bad Company and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Wylde says the neighbor was also into the Grateful Dead.

“I always thought it was the coolest thing that the Dead, it was bigger than the band in that it brought people together,” Wylde says.

Like his band does today.

Wylde deflects a question about how many days a year he spends at home in Castaic. He says his job is a joy.
And these days he doesn’t have to worry about killing anyone’s grass.

He lives on about 10 acres, and the neighbors are coyotes, bobcats and snakes.

Wylde is completely recognizable — not just for his look, but for his long-term success as a musician.

That begs the cliche question of how would he like to be remembered.

“As far as what (I) want Black Label to be remembered for — it’s hope because people can look and go, ‘If this hack can make it, I’ve definitely got a shot,” Wylde says, a huge laugh following.
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