A GLIMPSE OF THE GUNS N’ ROSES THAT ALMOST WAS: ZAKK WYLDE JAMS WITH AXL ROSE
So the young ‘uns might not remember this, but back in 1995, following the release of Ozzmosis, Zakk Wylde actually had to bow out of Ozzy Osbourne’s touring group. The reason? ‘Cause Mr. Wylde was busy waiting to see if he got the second guitarist spot in the then-biggest band in the world, Guns N’ Roses. GN’R’s original rhythm guitarist, Izzy Stradlin, had quit in ’91, and his replacement, Gilby Clarke, was fired in ’94; the band was having a hard time filling the slot (an issue which apparently ended up being a major factor in Slash’s eventual decision to leave the group), and Axl Rose got it into his head that having a second lead guitarist would be a great idea, and would “push” the two axe slingers to challenge themselves in new and interesting ways (a theory Rose continues to test in his current version of Guns). In hindsight, this was probably a terrible idea, but at the time, when word got out that Wylde was jamming with GN’R, everyone was all excited by the possibility.
I’m not quite sure why it didn’t work out between Wylde and GN’R (Rose says that Slash refused to share the spotlight with a second lead guitarist, Slash says that Wylde was too impatient to wait for Rose to get his shit together), but last week fans got a kinda-sorta glimpse of a what a Wylde GN’R might have sounded like when the guitarist, whose Black Label Society was opening for Rose and company, hopped up on stage with the band to perform a cover of AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Rosie.” Metal Insider has found multiple fan-filmed videos of the event, one of which I’ve re-posted below; it’s actually pretty amazing, ’cause Wylde doesn’t use a single guitar squeal the entire time. I wonder if that was one of Rose’s conditions when allowing him to perform with GN’R?
And since we’re on the topic of Zakk Wylde almost joining Guns N’ Roses in the mid-90s, here’s a video of Wylde and Slash jamming on Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child” from roughly that same time period. Hearing the way these two trade licks and interact with one another might actually give you a better sense of how GN’R could have sounded had Wylde actually ended up in the band. Enjoy: