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BLACK LABEL SOCIETY is the exceptionally heavy and uncompromising trio founded by OZZY OSBOURNE and, briefly, ALLMAN BROTHERS guitarist ZAKK WYLDE following his more Southern flavoured PRIDE & GLORY. Before achieving global notoriety with Ozzy the guitarist, real name Jeffrey Weilandt, had paid his dues with New Jersey club acts STONEHENGE and ZYRIS. In the latter act Wylde went by the stage name 'Zakari Wyland'.

The guitarist has generated a huge cult appeal for his work with Ozzy, commencing with the 1988 'No Rest For The Wicked' album, and is regarded as coming the closest out of all of Ozzy's esteemed axemen at filling the void left by the late, great Randy Rhoads. Wylde also spent time rehearsing with GUNS N' ROSES and songs written during this period were used for the debut BLACK LABEL SOCIETY album. Originally the band was projected to be titled HELL'S KITCHEN and album artwork was even commissioned to match. The debut 'Sonic Brew' opus, featuring drummer Phil Ondich and crafted with producers Ron and Howard Albert, emerged in Japan during October 1998 but was not made officially available in the United States until May of the following year. This later US edition came complete with an extra track in 'Lost My Better Half'.

Wylde would be recalled for duty for live work with Ozzy in 1998, fulfilling Japanese dates, but struck out on his own once more shortly after. Wylde made it into celluloid in 2000 appearing in the movie 'Metal God' as guitarist for actor Mark Wahlberg's fictitious band STEEL DRAGON. This movie would be eventually released in August 2001 with a new title of 'Rock Star'.

BLACK LABEL SOCIETY toured America in 2000 with CROWBAR and SIXTY WATT SHAMEN. The initial dates were marred though when Ondich fell ill necessitating CROWBAR's drummer Craig Nunenmacher stepping into the breach for many shows. 'Ozzfest' dates found Frey Theiler stepping in as stand in bassist.

2001 brought renewed fortunes for Wylde as it emerged that the guitarist was back in the Ozzy camp recording of the 'Down To Earth' album. BLACK LABEL SOCIETY meanwhile formed part of the summer 'Ozzfest' touring festival promoting the live cum acoustic album 'Alcohol Fueled Brewtality'. By June bassist S.O.B. had parted ways with the act and Mike Inez, an erstwhile OZZY OSBOURNE band colleague and former ALICE IN CHAINS man, stepped into the breach.

The band returned in February 2002 touting a new studio album '1919 Eternal', the title having been amended from the intended 'Deathcore WarMachine Eternal' following the events of 11th September 2001. This outing would be promoted this with yet more 'Ozzfest' shows, this time on a European leg. It would be mooted that the tracks on '1919 Eternal' were in fact originally slated for the Ozzy album. OZZY OSBOURNE bassist Robert Trujillo would step up to the mark for these shows, doubling bass duties with both BLACK LABEL SOCIETY and Ozzy. Troubles hit the European leg of Ozzfest as ZAKK WYLDE reportedly fell ill, citing mental and physical exhaustion, necessitating a rapid return to America. The events in Zurich, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki and Russian shows in St. Petersburg and Moscow were all cancelled.

Back in action Wylde took his place alongside OZZY OSBOURNE and with BLACK LABEL SOCIETY for the North American leg of the tour. A run of September headliners, supported by BRAND NEW SIN, ensued throughout September.

Wylde would guest on DEREK SHERINIAN's 2002 album. BLACK LABEL SOCIETY commenced work on a new studio album, billed as 'The Blessed Hellride', during November. During January of 2003 OZZY OSBOURNE greatly enhanced the profile of this outing by recording guest lead vocals for the album track 'Stillborn'. Japanese variants added the exclusive bonus track 'F.U.N.' Promotion for the album, released in April and scoring commendably on the US Billboard charts, commenced with a rash of US dates in March prior to Japanese, Australian and New Zealand shows. OZZY OSBOURNE's Robert Trujillo would participate as the band's bassist for these gigs. A matter of days after this liaison was confirmed Trujillo was confirmed as the new METALLICA bass man. In parallel to the album a live DVD, 'Broozed, Boozed & Broken-Boned: Live With The Detroit Chapter' recorded at Harpo's Concert Theater in Detroit, Michigan on September 14, 2002, also hit stores. April of 2003 would find the band, now with Mike Inez installed on bass, on the road in North America once again billed alongside MELDRUM and NASHVILLE PUSSY.

Changing the mood somewhat BLACK LABEL SOCIETY began recording an acoustic and piano based album 'Hangover Music, Vol. 1' in California during December. Recorded at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles and produced by Wylde in collaboration with Barry Conley, this record, issued in April 2004, included a vocal-piano interpretation of PROCOL HARUM's 1967 hit 'A Whiter Shade Of Pale' and a song entitled 'Layne', Wylde's tribute to the late ALICE IN CHAINS frontman Layne Staley. Cameo spots came from former ALICE IN CHAINS bassist Mike Inez, former PRIDE & GLORY and WHITE LION bassist James Lomenzo and ROB ZOMBIE's drummer John Tempesta.

BLACK LABEL SOCIETY would once again be confirmed for the annual Ozzfest dates in the summer of 2004, with BLACK SABBATH as the headline act. Bass for these shows was delegated to James Lomenzo, a veteran of PRIDE & GLORY, DAVID LEE ROTH, SLASH'S SNAKEPIT, WHITE LION, HULA MONSTERS and KILLER WHALES. Former bassist Steve Gibb joined New Orleans heavyweights CROWBAR as their new guitarist in March. 'Hangover Music Vol. VI' would sell over 24,000 copies in its first week of American sales, landing at no. 40 on the Billboard charts.

December of 2004 found BLACK LABEL SOCIETY switching labels to Artemis Records and projecting a new studio album billed as 'Mafia'. An unlisted, untitled track number 15 on the album is in actuality a cover version of 'I Never Dreamed', originally by LYNYRD SKYNYRD. A lead single, 'Suicide Messiah', went to radio in January 2005 with the album following in March. Also on the recording front, Wylde guested on DEREK SHERINIAN's 2005 opus 'Mythology', not only donating his distinctive guitar tones but also penning lyrics and scoring vocals to the track 'The River Run'.

In early 2005 Wylde's status was recognised by the collectors market as KnuckleBonz Inc. produced a limited edition figurine of the guitarist. The $99 'Zakk Wylde Guitar Hero' figure, each hand numbered and mounted on a wooden base, came complete with his signature black and white Bullseye Gibson Les Paul.

North American tour dates throughout March and April saw MELDRUM as direct support. DAMAGEPLAN/PANTERA drummer Vinnie Paul joined BLACK LABEL SOCIETY on stage on 9th April at the WAAF Indoor Beach Party on 9th April at the Tsongas Arena in Lowell, Massachusetts. Vinnie stepped up once more on 17th April for the song 'Suicide Messiah' during their performances at the House of Blues in Orlando, Florida and, naturally, PANTERA's hometown of Dallas. In keeping, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY shot an Eric Zimmerman directed video for the single 'In This River', a tribute to Darrell Abbott, which novelly featured Wylde sailing down a river seated at a grand piano.

European gigs throughout May and June also had MELDRUM as opening act. However, a concert at Bradford on 2nd June was cancelled with an official statement explaining Zakk Wylde was in need of "a day off to preserve his voice for the rest of the tour". The band's 5th June gig in Copenhagen, Denmark was also cancelled because, according to the band, "the promoter of the show was not able to meet the show's contract rider requirements". Another curtailment came with the pulling of a 15th June show scheduled at the Petofi Hall in Budapest, Hungary, reportedly been cancelled due to "logistical problems".

More optimistically, the band were set film their 17th June Paris Elysée Montmartre and 18th June gig at the Carling Academy 2 in Manchester for a DVD release. Unfortunately, this latter concert too was cancelled when local biker gang, the 'Sons of Hell', reportedly used physical violence to prevent fans and crew members from wearing the BLACK LABEL SOCIETY logo, claiming it was too close to their own skull motif.

Ex-BLACK LABEL SOCIETY drummer Greg D'Angelo (a.k.a. "GD3") joined ANTIPRODUCT in June. Further BLACK LABEL SOCIETY product came in the form of the Spitfire Records double compilation 'Kings of Damnation - Era '98-'04'. Notable track inclusions would be previously unreleased acoustic versions of 'Spoke In The Wheel' and 'Bridge To Cross' plus "Slightly Amped" renditions of 'Stillborn' and 'The Blessed Hellride'.

BLACK LABEL SOCIETY parted ways with bassist James Lomenzo in September, re-drafting former band member John 'JD' DeServio in his stead. Five weeks of shows kicking off on 14th October in St. Petersburg, Florida saw BRAND NEW SIN as support. As 2006 was ushered in it was learned that Wylde was all set to participate in the recording of a new OZZY OSBOURNE album. In March the band, working with producer Michael Beinhorn on new album 'Shot To Hell', revealed it had switched labels to Roadrunner Records.

'Ozzfest' once again loomed for the 2006 summer touring season, the group sharing the festival stages with OZZY OSBOURNE, SYSTEM OF A DOWN, HATEBREED, LACUNA COIL, DISTURBED, ATREYU, UNEARTH, BLEEDING THROUGH, NORMA JEAN, A LIFE ONCE LOST, STRAPPING YOUNG LAD, THE RED CHORD, FULL BLOWN CHAOS, WALLS OF JERICHO, ALL THAT REMAINS and BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME. September concerts in Australia were supported by VANISHING POINT.

Launched in September, the 'Shot To Hell' album sold around 32,000 units in its first week of sales in the USA to debut at number 21 on the Billboard charts. The album also racked up impressive chart positions in Scandinavia. Wylde also found time to contribute guest guitar to MARILYN MANSON guitarist JOHN 5's solo album ''The Devil Knows My Name'.

In October the group united with a heavyweight billing comprising STRATOVARIUS, SEPULTURA, SAXON, NEVERMORE, AFTER FOREVER, PRIMAL FEAR and GOTTHARD for the 'Live n' Louder' festivals across Mexico, Argentina and Brazil. The band then hooked up with BLACK STONE CHERRY and PRIESTESS for a North American tour commencing October 27th 2006 at the Casino Ballroom in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire.

The band acted again as traditional support to OZZY OSBOURNE on his May and June European and Scandinavian dates. US headline dates saw support from SANCTITY.

BLACK LABEL SOCIETY hooked up with SEVENDUST for North American dates in March 2009. The 'Pedal To The Metal' US tour 2009, featuring co-headliners MUDVAYNE, kicked off on 24th July in Portland, Maine, and concluded 9th September in Oklahoma City. Joining the two acts on the road would be STATIC-X, SUICIDE SILENCE, DOPE and BURY YOUR DEAD. However, Zakk Wylde would be hospitalised, diagnosed with a rare genetic blood clotting disorder.

Wylde paid tribute to the late Les Paul on Monday 25th January 2010 at the Iridium Jazz club in New York City with a solo set comprising T-BONE WALKER's 'Stormy Monday Blues', JIMI HENDRIX's 'Little Wing' and Voodoo Child', LEON RUSSELL's 'A Song For You', BLACK LABEL SOCIETY's 'The Blessed Hellride' and CREAM's 'Sunshine Of Your Love'.

Garry Sharpe-Young

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