Zakk Wylde says one of the biggest things he learned from Ozzy Osbourne was the importance of a good work ethic.

Rock ‘n’ roll style.

“Ozz led by example with his work ethic,” said Wylde, who was Osbourne’s guitarist for more than 20 years. “Even when he went out drinking and got hammered the night before, he was always ready to go the next morning; he always answered the bell. He never missed a show and was never late, just a pro.”

But Wylde said he also had an in-born desire to succeed in the business, which can’t be taught.

“Lions hang out with lions,” said Wylde of his time with Osbourne. “You’re either born a lion or you’re not.”

Wylde was just 19, working at a New Jersey gas station and playing in bands at night, when he got his big break auditioning for Osbourne in the late 1980s. He took what he learned from Ozzy about music, showmanship and the value of hard work, and now fronts his own hard-rock outfit, Black Label Society.

Wylde and his band will play Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston Saturday night as part of their Black Label Berzerkus festival tour. Fellow hard rockers Clutch, Children of Bodom and 2Cents will also perform.

The tour is timed to promote Black Label Society’s first new album in four years, “Order of the Black,” which debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 in August — the band’s highest-charting album to date.

Wylde missed two shows last week when he was hospitalized for a recurring blood-clotting condition in his leg. He resumed the tour this past Saturday with a show in Milwaukee, and as of Monday, was still scheduled to play Lewiston on Saturday.

Wylde loves touring, something he says he shares with his mentor. But Wylde says Osbourne was less enthusiastic about making records.

“The first time I ever saw him in the studio, he said ‘I (expletive) hate making records,’ ” said Wylde.

Wylde recently parted professional company with Osbourne, but says people shouldn’t think that means they had a falling out. In fact, he just did several Ozzfest shows in August, and considers Osbourne and his wife, Sharon, to be as close as family.

“There were no blowouts; it’s just Ozz has been doing different things, and I wanted to do different things. Let’s put it this way: What more can I ask Ozzy to do for me? I love them both,” said Wylde. “Sharon is like my mother. They can do no wrong in my eyes.”

Wylde grew up in Bayonne, N.J., and got his first glimpse of the importance of a work ethic from his father, an orphan who served in World War II and worked for years at an auto plant. “That’s the way I was raised — you got to work, work, work to get anywhere,” he said.

He was also raised on a steady diet of classic rock, listening to and loving the music of Led Zeppelin, Osbourne’s Black Sabbath, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Elton John. And yes, Wylde mentioned Elton John specifically.

Besides working with Osbourne on his albums, Wylde’s Black Label Society has released eight albums, and Wylde has won several industry awards for his guitar playing.

Wylde says he won’t go looking for lighthouses or lobster or do any other touristy stuff while in Maine. He’s coming here to work.

“When I’m on the road, I’m working. It’s not a paid vacation,” he said. “If I’m in Maine with nothing to do, I might say, “Hey, why aren’t we doing an in-store somewhere?’ “

 

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

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