Ozzy Osbourne Guitarist Gus G on 'Dimebag' Darrell: 'I Wanted To Be That Dude'

Rob Monk/Total Guitar Magazine via Getty Images

Portrait of Greek heavy metal musician Kostas Karamitroudis, better known by his stage name Gus G, photographed with his signature ESP GUS-600 EC electric guitar in London, on February 11, 2014. Gus is best known as the lead guitarist with Ozzy Osbourne and Firewind.

Kostas Karamitroudis never met "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott. He never threw back a Black Tooth Grin with him or shook his hand at a meet-and-greet. Yet Dimebag has touched his life -- as he did thousands of others -- in a very profound way.

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When Headbangers Ball aired in Greece in the 1980s, it introduced the guitar-obsessed Karamitroudis to Pantera when he saw the video for "Walk." Dimebag became a musical hero that Karamitroudis wanted to emulate, and years of practice made his dream come true. Karamitroudis is now better-known as Gus G, the guitarist for Firewind who also handles axe duties for Ozzy Osbourne. (Coincidentally, Gus G's gig with Osbourne has a Dimebag connection: The man he replaced, Zakk Wylde, was one of Dimebag's closest friends.)

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"He could play riffs like a motherf---er, but then he could shred like nobody else. He could do both extremely well. He was like two guitar players in one. That's what really drew me to his playing. [I was like], 'I want to be that dude,' " recalls Gus G. "You want to learn how to play fast and all those techniques, but with Dimebag, you make sure you don't miss the rhythm playing, because that was equally exciting."

Dimebag's influence extended to Gus G's equipment. His first endorsement was for Washburn Guitars, a brand Dimebag once backed. "I started out playing a Dimebag guitar. It was a Washburn Culprit," remembers Gus G. When he later teamed with ESP Guitars to create his own signature model, the company suggested Gus G incorporate a style similar to Dimebag's -- a "lightning bolt" shape with jagged edges. "The difference with my guitars is they're actually smaller," says Gus G. "I'm a smaller guy, so they're not as pointy and not as big."

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But to his fans, Gus G's enormous talent has transformed him from a Dimebag pupil into one of his peers. In 2011, he won the Dimebag Darrell Shredder title at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards; it honors "the demonically talented fingertips of this generation's guitar gods," according to the organization's website.

"He really set a benchmark for the modern-day guitar player. The way that I would see Dimebag right now, he's like the modern-day Randy Rhoads," says Gus G. "What Randy Rhodes was for the '80s, that's what Dimebag was for the '90s and the '00s and this generation of players."

He adds of his longtime hero, "Sadly, I never got to meet Dimebag. I wish I had … We lost one of the greats that day."


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