Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Zakk Wylde was asked on The Jasta Show about the similarities between Foo Fighters’ 2002 song “All My Life” and Osbourne’s 1991 song “Desire” – for which Zakk wrote the riff to – to which he replied (transcribed by Ultimate-Guitar):
“There’s nothing wrong with that. I mean, they’ve heard it and it was like, ‘Dude, that riff, why would you do something like that?’ I mean, Dave’s song is completely different as far as the melody goes and everything he does with it.”
Does he buy you a sandwich? What do you get out of it? I think there should be a riff sandwich police.
“Yeah, get him a corn beef sandwich or just get him an egg white omelette. [Laughs] Dave rocks, I’m buddies with Dave. So whatever he does it’s all good.”
Is it at the point where everything is inspired by something else?
“I think everybody gets inspired by everything. Whether you’re the Stones or The Beatles… Yeah, without a doubt.”
But there has to be riffs and patterns that haven’t been done yet.
“Yeah, but to me it’s endless. The whole thing is you’ve got Zeppelin taking – and the Stones and Queen and Hendrix – taking blues stuff and just making it more aggressive and amplifying it. Like taking a riff off an acoustic guitar and you twist it around or whatever.
“Or anything. You can get inspired by listening ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.’ ‘Hey Zakk, it would be cool if we had something that simple. Just three chords.’ And then you end up writing ‘All Along the Watchtower,’ which has three chords.
“And if he would have told me I would have never even guessed it. What inspired me was ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.’ I wanted to write something that’s just three chords. And let me see how much I can do with just three chords. And I was like, ‘Wow, if you didn’t tell me I would have never got that.’
“Or if you heard ‘Heart of Gold’ by Neil Young and then you ended up writing ‘Free Fallin’.’ I’m like, ‘Really?’ I wanted to write something acoustic like that and I ended up just noodling on the guitar for a little bit. But the spark was ‘Heart of Gold’ by Neil Young and then you ended up writing ‘Free Fallin’.’ It’s like ‘I would have never got that if you didn’t tell me that.’ See what I mean? It just turns into a completely different thing.
“Everybody gets inspired by anything. You could hear a cool Sabbath riff or Zeppelin or anything and just go, ‘Man, it would be cool if we could do something like that.’ And then you get inspired by it and then it turns into something completely different that has nothing to do with the original intention of what it was gonna be.”
He later said:
“When you lifted stuff… That was a big thing, the first one, was it ‘Wild Thing’ with Tone Loc? Because it actually used Van Halen’s drums. They actually lifted it. But then again, if you’re gonna do that just ask them. Like what Mick Jagger did when he did *sings the title* ‘Has ‘Anybody Seen My Baby” It’s a K.D. Lang song ‘Constant Craving’ and Mick loved the song.
“So Mick was listening to it one time and he ended up singing it. But he loved it so much he was like ‘Ask k.d. if we can give her songwriting credit on it.’ So it ways Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, K.D. Lang. And K.D.’s like, ‘Yeah, that’d be great!'”