GUS G. Explains Why EDDIE VAN HALEN Wasn't An Early Influence On His Guitar Playing

February 29, 2024

In a new interview with "Paltrocast" host Darren Paltrowitz, Greek guitar virtuoso Gus G., well known in rock and metal circles for his work as Ozzy Osbourne's guitarist and as leader of his own band FIREWIND, was asked if legendary VAN HALEN guitarist Eddie Van Halen was an early musical influence on him. Gus responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "No, not really. Maybe because VAN HALEN, they were not that much into the rock culture here in Europe or maybe in Greece. I was just exposed to different kind of stuff. For me, it was more like Gary Moore or something — you know, British players. Of course, I knew of VAN HALEN — I saw the videos on MTV and things like that and I got into it — but I got into it a bit a little bit later. So it was not like the first thing I checked out and I was, like, 'Oh my god. I have to pick up all the records.' I found out [about them] as I was developing my guitar playing… I think I think they only had like one hit here — mainly 'Jump'; that was it. To my knowledge, that was the song that you would always see, and that was the keyboard song — that was a song that Eddie mainly did keyboards."

Back in May 2022, Gus was asked by BLABBERMOUTH.NET if he could play guitar at a hypothetical Eddie Van Halen tribute concert or tour of some kind. He replied: "That would be very difficult and challenging to do it justice. I don't know who could do it. [Laughs] It would be scary. Joe Satriani is one of the few guys who could pull it off because of who he is. He's such a unique guitar player. Plus, he's done it before with DEEP PURPLE. From a technical point of view, yeah, I don't think I would be the right player because I don't use the whammy bar. I'm playing a steady, fixed bridge. I don't do a lot of whammy bar tricks. I do tapping, but not as much as other guys. Could I do it? Could I learn the songs? Of course. I could do it, but I don't think I'd be the right guy for such a thing. It's scary as a guitar player walking into such a spotlight. It was scary for me 12 years ago when I did the Ozzy thing. I never thought of myself as that type of guitar player, but when Ozzy looked at me and said, 'You're the guy.' I started thinking about it differently: 'Well, if he sees that, then I should believe in myself more.' [Laughs]"

In November 2020, a month after Eddie's passing, Gus reflected on the VAN HALEN axeman's death, saying in a video posted on his official YouTube channel: "Obviously, it's been way over a month since [Eddie's] passing, and I've seen a lot of tributes online. Since he died, he's been all over the news all over the world, all the magazine covers, everything. You can see what a big of an impact this man has had in the music world, and, of course, for the guitar community. You don't need me to tell you that he was such a pioneer and an innovator. All these words, actually, they describe somebody like Eddie Van Halen perfectly. He has done so much, he has given us so much in music, and he has done so much for the guitar. From introducing the modern-age sort of hard rock/heavy metal guitar; the way he used whammy bar techniques; introducing tapping techniques to the world. There's no way you're playing hard rock or heavy metal and you're not using some stuff that he popularized — there's just no way.

"I was shocked when I read the news, obviously, and I was kind of lost for words," he continued. "Eventually, I wrote a few words for some magazines that have done some specials on him, some tributes. But I haven't posted anything on my own web sites, on my own social media or anything.

"I can go on and on about how Eddie has influenced me and millions of other guitar players. I just wanna take this chance to say thank you, Eddie, for all that you gave us. Unfortunately, and sadly, I never got to see VAN HALEN live. I'm not even go into about meeting them — I never to meet Eddie or anybody from the band — but I never got to see VAN HALEN live either, because I live in Greece, and VAN HALEN very rarely played in Europe; they mainly toured in America. And when I was spending a lot of time in America, I never got a chance to see them. Even when they did the last reunion a few years back, I was never in town to catch their show. So that's one thing that I regret; I wish I'd seen them on stage.

"But regardless, Eddie, thank you — thank you for all that you did for the music world and for the guitar community," Gus added. "Your legacy lives on."

FIREWIND will release a new studio album, "Stand United", on March 1 via AFM.

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