Heavy metal icon Ozzy Osbourne probably knows more about great electric guitar playing than anyone in history who's never played the instrument himself.
From co-founding the greatest heavy metal band of all-time, Black Sabbath, in 1968 alongside riff gods Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler to employing a long line of iconic guitarists as a solo artist, Ozzy has repeatedly collaborated with the best to ever turn it up.
In Ozzy's solo career, two six-stringers stand out from the rest: Randy Rhoads, who authored most of the music on Ozzy's first two solo albums before his tragic death in 1982, and Zakk Wylde, who joined Ozzy's band in 1987 and has dutifully served as a sideman for the Prince of Darkness on and off for the past 30 years.
Ozzy compared his two greatest axemen in a recent Q&A with Blabbermouth.net, regarding the November 29 release of his career-spanning vinyl boxset See You On The Other Side.
"Well, Randy Rhoads was the best," Ozzy said. "If I had to say which one of the guitar players you'd rather work with, who was the most musically trained, it was Randy, because he could write, he could read, he could play, he taught at his mother's school, and he had patience with me."
Coming out of Black Sabbath, Ozzman explained that Rhoads was the first musician who would create song arrangements with him, as opposed to completing them separately and then handing them over when it was time to create vocals.
Ozzy has repeatedly credited Rhoads with helping him rediscover his joy for creating music.
"Then he got tragically killed," Ozzy continued. "And I'll never forget it as long as I live. That story, we all know now. But, I mean, he was only a young man. He was in his early-twenties. It just doesn't seem right..."
The frontman then mentioned "Bark At The Moon" co-writer Jake E. Lee as another "great player," before arriving at Wylde.
"...Zakk is somewhere else, man!" he said. "That guy gets faster and faster. Zakk has been with me longer than any guitar player ever! He's been with me the longest and is one of the greatest friends I'll ever have. He is a family member to me. I mean, if I ever really needed him for anything, I could phone him up and he'd say, 'I'll be there in five minutes.' And vice-versa. Zakk's a hard-working guy. He works his balls off."
While many of Ozzy's collaborators have found themselves at odds with the singer over the years, even when he was unceremoniously fired in 2009, Wylde has always been careful not to speak ill of "the boss."
Ozzy's upcoming solo album, which is expected to arrive in January, does not feature any contributions from Wylde. The guitarist, however, pre-empted whispers of friction between the two, explaining recently that he fully supports Ozzy's recent work with other artists and expects to be on the road with him when the postponed 'No More Tours 2' trek resumes in 2020.
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