Zakk Wylde @ Apple Store SoHo

SOHO, NY—About 10 miles away from Zakk Wylde’s hometown of Bayonne, NJ, the 47-year-old rocker took a seat on the second floor of the SoHo Apple Store in New York City. He sat on stage with the editor-in-chief of Guitar World magazine, Brad Tolinski. This event took place shortly after announcing Black Label Society’s ninth studio album, Catacombs Of The Black Vatican, which is due out on April 8. As the band begins promoting the upcoming material, Wylde discussed Catacombs Of The Black Vatican with his fans.

I was able to attend a very special listening party for Catacombs Of The Black Vatican on January 16 at eOne Music’s headquarters in NYC. There, I was able to hear the new record with other select members of the press and Black Label Society contest winners. We paused every four tracks to discuss what we thought and to send Wylde a personal message on camera. After the first listen through, we were set to collect our things and head out before a stranger stopped by. This was a surprise visit from Wylde, and he talked to us about anything and everything, from Justin Bieber to the Super Bowl. The following day, he sat down with Tolinski and the audience in SoHo as part of an intimate “Meet The Musician” segment. As consumers shopped Apple products below, fans of the revered guitarist gathered around to hear some stories and to listen to some music.

In lieu of providing details about the new Black Label Society LP, Wylde joked, “It’s the same as the other records, but with different names.” Tolinski then asked Wylde to recall some of his favorite Ozzy Osbourne stories. When asked about his celebrated “TV story,” Wylde was sidetracked and discussed a time when he vomited on himself and in the aisle of an airplane. He had closed his eyes, pretended to sleep, and hoped no one would notice. As everyone in the audience laughed, Wylde discussed the moment he and Ozzy took a bolted television out of an entertainment center in their hotel room. They then proceeded to throw it, responsibly, out of their window. The two fell to the floor, unable to contain their laughter, until Sharon Osbourne, or “Mom,” showed up. The pricey hijinks cost a pretty penny, but had the entire second floor of the Apple store in laughter. Members of the audience were then given the opportunity to have some of their questions answered.

One fan asked if there was any embarrassing music on the legendary guitarist’s iPod. Wylde stated that he listens to just about everything and went on to mention some of today’s popular artists that he believes to be talented. A young fan asked if he had any tips for up-and-coming guitarists and musicians who would love to make it in the industry. Wylde’s best advice was to just be yourself and do what you love. He stressed the importance of playing what you like and not trying to fit into any niche or genre that is popular. If you play the music that you enjoy, it will be that much more rewarding. Q&A came to a close and Wylde headed over to grab his acoustic guitar and to play a few songs.

Wylde kicked off his performance with one of my favorites, “The Blessed Hellride.” Next up was one of his biggest hits, “Stillborn.” After completing two tracks off his 2003 album, The Blessed Hellride, Wylde walked over to the piano and finished his intimate set there. The first track Wylde played on piano was “Spoke In The Wheel.” The short set concluded with “In This River,” a tribute to one of his closest friends, Dimebag Darrell. Wylde showed off his chops every two songs, first with some acoustic noodling and then on piano.

As much as Wylde showcased his talent and skill as a musician, he also gave fans a great glimpse of his personality. He always had a smile on his face and he treated each and every fan like a friend. At the Apple store, he was excited to answer fans’ questions, even if it was, “Zakk, could you adopt me?” Every now and then we hear stories of celebrity meetings and the discovery of a celebrity ego. However, fame and critical acclaim has not affected Mr. Wylde’s personality at all. Upon my meeting with Wylde and my attendance at the Apple event in SoHo, disappointment was nowhere in sight. Smiles were all around as they got to see—and for some, meet—one of their idols.