The Ozzy Osbourne – Stephen Hawking Connection

I went to an Ozzy Osbourne concert with my son.

Zakk Wylde was on stage tapping.

I know about tapping because my son plays guitar.

He knows about tapping because he loves Led Zeppelin.

Eddie Van Halen learned about tapping from Led Zeppelin, too.

When Zakk Wylde was developing his style, he saw Van Halen as a game changer, but he avoided tapping. That was Van Halen’s thing.

Nikki Sixx: How much of an influence was King Eddie (Eddie Van Halen) on you?

Zakk Wylde: I think on everybody, I mean . . .

Nikki Sixx: He really changed the game.

Zakk Wylde:  I mean, put it this way . . . Billy Sheehan said, “You know you’ve really changed the game when you’ve influenced people not only that wanna sound . . . that end up copying your thing or sound but that go intentionally out of your way not to sound like you. So that’s when you’ve really influenced people. You know what I mean? So just like, you don’t wanna sound like King Edward or anything like that? Don’t tap. I remember with Oz when I first got in the band it was like, How am I gonna be me? I won’t play with a whammy bar, I’ll get rid of that. . . . I have them now, but I intentionally went out of my way when I first joined the band. No tapping, no whammy bar, no diatonic scales or harmonic minor. You know, three notes of scale . . .

Nikki Sixx: I like how you were like, “I’m going to be in this band with one of my heros and these are the things I’m not going to do.

Zakk Wylde: This way you just won’t sound like that if you don’t do it. . . When GNR was the biggest biggest thing at the time, if you don’t wanna be like Slash get a Flying V or an SG. Just do the opposite of him or get a Strat. You don’t wanna sound like Jimi Hendrix? Don’t play a Stratocaster. Get a Les Paul or get a Flying V. It’s something that’s complete opposite of him. Get a guitar that doesn’t have a whammy on it. Don’t use a Uni-Vibe pedal. You just cross things off the list . . . Getting back to when I first joined the boss, I just crossed off all these things and the only thing I was kind of left with was pentatonic scales. And I love John McLaughlin and he’s the king of it, as far as blazing pentatonic scales and picking them all and everything like that, and Frank Marino is huge on me.”

The thing about choosing to do the opposite is that it means you have to be well versed in the opposite. Zakk Wylde knew the opposites and developed his style and wove in the techniques he’d crossed off the list. That style fit with Ozzy Osbourne.

My son likes Ozzy Osbourne.

That’s how I came to be second row at the concert last Friday, with Zakk Wylde in front of me tapping, with a son mouthing “tapping” to me and pointing at Wylde—the same son who went home and practiced playing ’til the sun came up.

What does this have to do with Stephen Hawking?

In their book The Grand Design, Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow talk about force fields, which was the brainchild of scientist Michael Faraday.

In the centuries between Newton and Faraday one of the great mysteries of physics was that its laws seemed to indicate that forces act across the empty space that separates interacting objects. Faraday didn’t like that. He believed that to move an object, something has to come in contact with it. And so he imagined the space between electric charges and magnets as being filled with invisible tubes that physically do the pushing and pulling. Faraday called those tubes a force field. A good way to visualize a force field is to perform the schoolroom demonstration in which a glass plate is placed over a bar magnet and iron filings spread on the glass. With a few taps to overcome friction, the filings move as if nudged by an unseen power and arrange themselves in a pattern of arcs stretching from one pole of the magnet to the other. That pattern is a map of the unseen force that permeates space. Today we believe that all forces are transmitted by fields, so it is an important concept in modern physics—as well as science fiction.

If you look at the image in The Grand Design, of “the force field of a bar magnet, as illustrated by the reaction of iron filings,” it’s an opportunity to see the beauty of forces that are present but invisible to the eye.

So what if those forces are what lead to art and innovation and also likely destruction and war?

Could there be a theory that would predict, explain, or cause these things to occur and/or perhaps prevent them?

Is there a force that will always lead to a specific reaction?

If tapping is a force, it beget a reaction in Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, Zakk Wylde, and my son—which in turn beget innovation.

If yes, then is the force already in existence or is it created by certain people coming together? Or is there a force bringing them together, which will always guarantee a bang—whether it is Lost Generation expatriates in Paris or Hudson River School landscape artists?

And, if the forces are already there, can we call ourselves creatives?

Or are we more miner-49ers, mining invisible forces to tap into what’s already there?

I listened to Zeppelin and Van Halen as a teenager, but I didn’t know about tapping because I wasn’t paying attention to the how of the music. I was safe on the perimeter instead of deep in the mine with a pickaxe.

Then I birthed a kid who pays attention to the how and who is so passionate about the how that when I see Zakk Wylde tapping, I know what I’m seeing and I have a deeper appreciation for the how.

I realize that this connection is a cross between a puzzle and the game Memory.

Each time I’m exposed to something, I get another card.

A got a card years ago with Zeppelin and Van Halen, but it took my son to make the connection, which led me to a concert in which I stared in awe at Wylde, and had a little brain explosion when I saw him tapping, and saw my son pointing and mouthing “tapping” to me.

It was all already there.

So back to this question of forces.

I think art and innovation and destruction and war are the result of those forces.

Uncovering one and avoiding the other is a mix of those memory cards, which only come with experience and exposure.

Want to be nudged by that force that brought us the impressionists, jazz, and any other movement? You’ve got to be there, ready with a pickaxe for mining, and then paying attention to the connections.

How do you get your pickaxe?

You have to be in the invisible mine.

How do you get to the invisible mine?

You have to know where it exists.

How to get there?


Toward the beginning of the interview he did with Sixx, Wylde and Sixx talk about growing as a musician, and adding the music and artists you’ve been exposed to into your “soup.”

Sixx: We were talking about stuff we grew up on, stuff that inspired us in the beginning and I wondered about some of your favorites—like even going back. I know you started when you were 15, right?

Wylde: Yeah, well I was 14 years old, first year of high school and I started getting serious, but, uh . . . When people ask me, “Do you have any advice for my son or daughter?” they’re going to MI or whatever, I say, whatever it is you love, what moves you—like if some kids like, I just love early Metallica . . . —that’s what your band should sound like. You know what I mean? You should be able to open for them. It’s like, I like Meshuggah, too . . . Those are the bands that move you, but you’re doing . . . It’s like if we said with Rich Robinson and the fellas—you know it’s Rich that does those Hendrix Experience tours—it’s like if you said to Rich, you know with the Black Crowes, it sounds kind of like Humble Pie. And, we’re eating that soup and it sounds like Humble Pie, Stones, and probably Rich would go, “Yeah. That’s what I’m on a steady diet of—and that’s why it sounds like that, because that’s what we listen to and that’s what we love.

Sixx: And we feel it when we play it.

Wylde: So yeah. It’s real. It’s like the Stones, back in the early days, you guys must be into blues bands and stuff like that, and Keith would have said, “Yeah, I like Chuck Berry . . . ”

Sixx: And then you grow as a musician—and you pick up new things to put in your soup. Just don’t put wrong things in the soup.

You’re Van Halen and my son watching Zeppelin and you’re Wylde and Sixx—and then one day you’re decades down the road and you have so much exposure that you can talk with ease about Meshuggah and Chuck Berry within a few minutes of each other, and you know who they influenced and who influenced them, and you’ve likely got an arsenal of pickaxes at that point and doing some serious mining.

Suggestions on exposure:

Read The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow.

Watch Zakk Wylde’s interview with Nikki Sixx.

Watch Eddie Van Halen share his introduction to tapping.

*A belated thank you to Hawking, and Mlodinow, and Faraday, and Einstein, and Newton. I wish I hadn’t run away from physics in high school. Thank you to Zakk Wylde and Ozzy Osbourne and Led Zeppelin and Eddie Van Halen for the force that landed me at that concert, and which keeps my kid practicing at all hours, and my heart exploding with pride.

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  1. Mary Doyle on September 21, 2018 at 5:13 am

    When I saw the title for this post – “The Ozzy Osbourne – Stephen Hawking Connection” – I thought to myself, “Okay, how she going to land this plane?” But land it you did! I’m always amazed at how you connect seemingly disparate people/ideas and tie it all back to creativity. Thanks for another great post (and for introducing this 66 year-old to tapping)!

  2. Jed hicks on September 21, 2018 at 6:23 am

    I wouldn’t have guessed a Led Zeppelin, Van Halen and Ozzy Osbourne fan. That alone speaks volumes. It is interesting when you see how the quality and calibar of musicianship has grown over the years. John Petrucci, Jeff Loomis, Slash – all growing and building on the forces you so aptly describe as attracting and repelling forces. The title was a pleasant surprise and the post delivered a great insight.

  3. Veleka Gray on September 21, 2018 at 6:24 am

    You ask, “Is there a force that will always lead to a specific reaction?” Yes. That is what astrology was designed to discover.

  4. Russell Wilson on September 21, 2018 at 6:31 am

    Great piece, Callie! Thank you for making all of those connections for me, especially the connection with the music I grew up with and Innovation.

  5. Lindsay Peet on September 21, 2018 at 7:39 am

    You wonder if the forces were there, of if they’re created. Remember, Steven Pressfield invokes the Muses before he writes. The Muses are the channel for the forces, no matter your medium or style.
    If one views oneself as an amanuensis, rather than the creator, and is true to that model, the artist will produce ever-new art, evolving as the artist and humanity evolve. There will be few ‘wrong notes.’

  6. Joe Jansen on September 21, 2018 at 7:54 am

    Something about this one makes my heart thump. And I’m not saying this with hyperbole or metaphorically, but describing a somatic response to the ideas here. Like this body recognizing a veil that’s getting thin between “what we think we know” and “deep truth.” Thumping (which, it occurs to me, is its own vibration).

    This post makes me think of the Nikola Tesla quote: “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration.”

    Hawking – Mlodinow talk about demonstrating the presence of unseen (magnetic) fields by “tapping” on the glass to “overcome friction” and allow the iron filings to organize themselves in “the pattern of unseen forces permeating space.” And the “tapping” overcomes friction how? That “tap” introduces a vibration to the system.

    Another example of this “unveiling of unseen fields or patterns” uses sand and sound (again, vibration at increasing frequencies). As the frequency increases, the grains of sand organize themselves into coherent lines and increasingly complex patterns. What fields are THOSE that are being revealed?

    Link to “resonance on a sand table”:

    Somewhere in here, I think the lines between science and spirit get a little fuzzy. Going inside. Going into the mind. Perceiving the patterns and connections. Where stories and music and images all swirl and seek a midwife.

    Your Friday thoughts are a gift, every week.

  7. Debbie L. Kasman on September 21, 2018 at 9:56 am

    Callie, I think this post is your best yet!

    It resonated with me on so many levels.

    My son learned tapping from Don Lapin at the Berklee College of Music in Boston so I totally understand your mom experience. Been there!

    Then there’s your force field comments and questions, your comments about art, innovation, destruction and war. All fantastic!

    Nancy C. Andreasen is a neuroscientist and psychiatrist who has spent decades researching creativity and working with leading artists and scientists like Kurt Vonnegut, George Lucas, Jane Smiley and William Thurston. In an article in The Atlantic called “Secrets of the Creative Brain,” Andreasen stated, “When eureka moments occur, they tend to be precipitated by long periods of preparation and incubation, and to strike when the mind is relaxed.” She says sir Isaac Newton developed the concept of gravity around 1666, when an apple fell on his head, and while he was sitting under a tree. Newton had spent many years teaching himself the mathematics of his time and inventing calculus. The formulation of this concept of gravity in his brain took more than 20 years, and it included preparation, incubation and inspiration – what Andreasen calls a version of the eureka experience – as well as production. Andreasen says many forms of creativity require this kind of preparation, incubation, inspiration and production process.

    Then there’s Joe’s comments about his heart thumping (mine too, Joe!), the veil getting thin, energy, frequency and vibration and their important in relation to how the universe works, and the lines between science and spirit getting fuzzy.

    If you want to delve more deeply into this, Callie, I highly recommend The Divine Matrix: Bridging Time, Space, Miracles, and Belief by Gregg Braden.

    It’s a phenomenal book, and is being used today in some science programs.

    Thanks for a spectacular post!

  8. Robert vanderMark on September 21, 2018 at 2:14 pm

    Officially my favorite “blog” so far, Callie. You couldn’t have named people that influenced me more. Thanks for not being afraid to discuss a different art form.
    I am a musician, recording engineer and producer and although these blogs are very much from an Author’s point of view, I always read them because they stoke me.
    This one just went over the top for me. 🙂
    Thanks again.

  9. Anonymous on September 21, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    Uhhh… Don’t ever recall Jimmy Page being a big “tapper”. You may want to have another conversation with your son.

  10. Regina Holt on September 22, 2018 at 10:07 am

    REALLY loved this one, Callie. You don’t need me to tell you that you are on to something. ROCK on!!! Much to learn from these kids…we see things from a new perspective if we remain with an open heart.

  11. Erik Dolson on September 22, 2018 at 11:22 am

    My favorite since “Nala, from France.”
    (I think I spelled that right, could not find the search button for the site).

  12. Erik Dolson on September 22, 2018 at 11:49 am

    We speak casually of force fields, and it’s like talking about a higher power. Sometimes our common sense doesn’t stretch that far. But using iron filings on a glass plate above a magnet, we know by observation and inference that something is “there.” Magnetism is related to electricity, and now we speak of “electro-magnetic” waves, light included.

    But it’s hard to imagine a wave without a medium. Waves in the ocean have the medium of water. They don’t really have their own particles of existence but are the movement of water, energy being transported by water, the medium, individual molecules of water not moving far but together transporting energy for thousands of miles.

    Information moves in waves. We look for the medium, we find it is us. Sons communicating to mothers about tapping, Led Zepllin reenforcing the wave. Some day we may find that everything is but a wave, in a medium we don’t yet have the ability to perceive by our common sense. Higher power?

    That which we see (light) is of waves; that which we hear (Led Zepplin). The neural nets which we each call “me” are wavelike: resonating, reenforcing, canceling out. And “… art and innovation and destruction and war.” And there are no waves without time, no light, no sound, no movement.

    Creators or miners? We discover metaphors for what won’t fit into simple description.

  13. Creig Sigurdson on September 22, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    Great Job Callie,
    This proves that if you pay attention, the connections are there. So this is also part of resistance, like steve says always there always pushing. But if you finally push back, how much would you achieve? The greater “R” the greater reward, here’s the thing: Everyone’s “R” is different, personalized. Dragging and pulling in ways that work best against you. Mine like yours is quite happy at its task. Equally I am grateful for it, now that I have an enemy to make me stronger.
    All the best,
    Creig Sigurdson

  14. Marina Goritskaia on September 22, 2018 at 4:35 pm

    You have no right to call yourself ‘creative’ as this word is WAY overused, so using it is already not creative 🙂

  15. Solo500 on September 28, 2018 at 6:41 am

    A good companion to this would be the part of Henry Rollins’ standup bit (really!) about Van Halen where he talks about seeing Eddie Van Halen play when he was a teenager. Something to the effect of “after he played Eruption he just stepped back and looked at his own hands in disbelief”.

    So much gratitude for this post and for all that you and Resistance Fighter Steven Pressfield do every day.
    Thank you.

    PS: I could swear I just heard a chorus of Muses say “obviously you have a right to use whatever damn words you want, but let’s not feed the trolls but instead get back to work”

  16. William Evans on September 28, 2018 at 6:56 am

    Harold Bloom made his name with his book “Anxiety of Influence” and spent years since arguing the main point about how major artists either swerve from their biggest influences or deliberately misconstrue them as a straw man (person) for their own work.

    I’d never thought Bloom and Van Halen would ever end up in the same conversation!

  17. Lyn Blair on October 2, 2018 at 7:13 am

    Loved this post. And then of course there is Star Wars — and “may the force be with you.” Ha…ha.
    Thought and ideas are the most powerful force in the universe and the foundation of everything that
    springs into existence.

    Great job on the post!

  18. Al on December 10, 2018 at 2:59 pm

    Hi, small sidenote. You mention you listened Zeppelin and Halen when teengaer. Neither band was around when you where teenager. Zeppelin formed 68 and Van Halen 72. But anyhow, reading The War of Art, cheers.

  19. Al on December 10, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    …. I thought i was reading Stevens writing… no wonder…. =)

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