In the pantheon of Ozzy Osbourne solo albums, 1988’s No Rest for the Wicked. is neither trailblazing like the Randy Rhoads–assisted Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman nor a high-water mark like the four-times-Platinum-selling No More Tears.
It hasn’t even stood the test of time all that well: although No Rest for the Wicked. moved more than a million copies in its first six months of release and was Osbourne’s second-highest charting solo effort up to that point, its songs—including hit singles like “Crazy Babies” and “Miracle Man”—are rarely, if ever, played live by the man today (though in recent years he has resurrected the power ballad “Fire in the Sky” at select shows).
But No Rest for the Wicked. will forever stand as an essential entry in the Ozzy Osbourne catalog for one very significant reason: it presented to the metal world the debut of a young guitar phenom by the name of Zakk Wylde.
Just 21 years old at the time of the album’s release, Wylde would go on to serve as Osbourne’s right-hand man for many years to come and grow into one of the most dynamic, influential and respected guitar players in modern hard rock and metal.
“He’s a fucking absolutely amazing guitar player,” Osbourne says of Wylde today, speaking to Guitar World from his home in Los Angeles. “And from the word go, he was great. He don’t fuck around. He hits it right in the fucking gut.”
And yet, back in 1987, Wylde—or, make that, Jeffrey Wielandt—was merely one among thousands of big-haired, big-riffing metal guitarists honing their craft in small-town bars and clubs across the U.S. At the time, the New Jersey native spent his days pumping gas at a service station and giving guitar lessons, and his nights playing in a local act named Zyris that had built up a strong area following. Wylde was also, as he has attested often over the years, a huge Ozzy and Black Sabbath fan.
“I loved Sabbath, loved Randy, and I thought Jake [E. Lee] was great, too,” the guitarist, now 46, recalls. “And I remember around that time [in 1987] hearing Ozz on The Howard Stern Show. Jake was gone and he was looking for a new guy. And Barb [Wylde’s then-girlfriend, and now wife, Barbaranne] said to me, ‘If you could just get a tape to him…’ And it was like, ‘Yeah, sure. How am I gonna do that?’
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