Few things in life are certain, but one thing that is certain is this:  if you’re playing guitar for Ozzy Osbourne, you’re a virtuoso. Osbourne’s current guitarist, Gus G., recently expressed the thoughts of many with these words: “I like all [Ozzy’s guitarists]. I like Zakk Wylde for what he did, and I’m a big fan of the Jake E. Lee albums. The first Ozzy solo album I heard was Diary of a Madman, and I thought Randy [Rhoads] was amazing. I don’t think I have a favorite. I really like all the guys he’s had." Below are profiles and quotes from the sensational six-stringers who’ve   backed Osbourne during more than three decades of solo work.

Randy Rhoads
A classically influenced virtuoso, Randy Rhoads was introduced to Osbourne by bassist Dana Strum, from Slaughter, when Osbourne was seeking a guitarist with whom to launch his solo career following his split with Black Sabbath. Rhoads’s tenure with Ozzy was brief – he died tragically in a plane crash in 1982 – but his contributions to rock guitar are monumental. “As a guitar player he was just phenomenal," Osbourne told Guitar Shop, in 1998. “His heart wasn’t really into rock ’n’ roll so much as the classics. He was one of these guys who, once he tasted what he wanted to taste, wanted to move on. He wasn’t really interested in becoming the next guitar hero."

Bernie Torme
Bernie Torme was charged with the near-impossible task of filling Rhoads’s shoes on the make-up concert dates that had been cancelled in the wake of Rhoads’s tragic death. Torme’s stint with Ozzy lasted just a few weeks, but the sustenance he provided was invaluable. “Musically it was a steep learning curve to play [Rhoads’s] parts, because he was a superb guitarist," Torme told Let It Rock, in 2000. “I think I did a pretty good job, though not at the beginning maybe. I only had three days to learn it all." Osbourne had high praise for Torme as well. “Had it not been for Bernie," he said, “I honestly don’t think that I would’ve done another gig. When I saw Randy’s plane in flames, I thought it was over."

Brad Gillis
Brad Gillis stepped in after Torme’s departure. His tenure with Osbourne, though brief, was indispensable, especially on the 1982 live album, Speak of the Devil. “The Ozzy gig changed my life," Gillis told GetReadyToRock.com, in 2003. “To be thrown into an instant headline position and asked to emulate Randy Rhoads was a great personal test that I had to endure. I sat in a hotel room for four days learning all the parts. On the fifth day I did my first show in Binghamton, New York. That was the first time I had ever played with the band."

Jake E. Lee
Jake E. Lee’s stint with Osbourne, which extended from late 1982 until 1987, provided much-needed stability during a difficult period. Lee’s playing on 1983’s Bark at the Moon and 1986’s The Ultimate Sin – both of which featured his contributions as co-writer as well as guitarist – was sensational. “On the first album, I felt [pressure] because there were a lot of guitar players who wanted this gig," he told Guitar World, in 1986. “I knew there were going to be a lot of people listening to see if I did any good or not. But I’m not the kind of person who really cares what other people think. There are guitar players who still come up to Ozzy and go, ‘I’m the guitar player you should have got.’"

Zakk Wylde
With the exception of Tony Iommi, no guitar player spent as much time with Ozzy as Zakk Wylde did. A steady force in Osbourne’s career from 1987 to 2009 (with the occasional sabbatical), Wylde remains on good terms with Ozzy to this day, following an amicable split between the two. “We’re both goofballs," Wylde told Gibson.com in 2009. “He’s the greatest. Led Zeppelin was only around for 10 years or so. Ozzy’s been making recordings since 1968 and he’s still around doing it. Something’s gotta be said for that. He’s not just a guy on a sprint."

Steve Vai
Steve Vai wrote and recorded with Ozzy in 1994, presumably working on material slated for the 1995 album, Ozzmosis. Vai was credited as co-writer on the track “My Little Man," but all the guitar parts on the album were played by Zakk Wylde. “Ozzy was looking for some songs for his record, and they called me up and we got together," Vai told Jemsite.com, in 1995. “We wrote a whole bunch of material and I think they’re going to use a little bit on the new record." Vai anticipated the interviewer’s next question. “No, I’m not playing on it," he added. “Ozzy has Zakk, and Zakk is a fabulous guitar player."

Alex Skolnick
Alex Skolnick played just one concert with Osbourne, appearing in a performance staged in Nottingham, England, in 1995. A former pupil of Joe Satriani’s, Skolnick is adept at both rock and jazz. Asked by Fretpoint.com to name the musicians who most influenced him, Skolnick cited The Beatles, KISS and jazz greats Wes Montgomery and Pat Metheny, among others. He then added: “I think the one player who really made me focus on metal guitar was Randy Rhoads."

Joe Holmes
In need of a replacement for Zakk Wylde for the 1995 Ozzmosis tour, Osbourne hired Joe Holmes without knowing that Holmes had taken lessons from Randy Rhoads in the late ’70s. Holmes went on to play several Ozzfest tours before leaving Ozzy’s band during the writing and recording of the 2001 album, Down to Earth. “It’s really spooky," Osbourne once said of Holmes’ playing. “When Joe plays the Randy Rhoads stuff, he plays just like Randy. It’s like I can see Randy’s fingers."

Jerry Cantrell
Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell recruited Osbourne’s touring band to play on his 2002 solo album, Degradation Trip. Presumably, it was that collaboration that led to Cantrell’s splendid six-string contributions to Osbourne’s 2005 Under Cover album, which featured renditions of “Sunshine of Your Love," “Mississippi Queen," “Sympathy for the Devil" and other classics as only Ozzy can do them. Later, in a Guitar World article, Cantrell said, “Ozzy and Black Sabbath are two of my biggest influences."

Gus G.
In 2009, Gus G., of the Greek power-metal band Firewind, got a call from Ozzy’s management asking him to audition for the role of Osbourne’s new guitarist. To this day, the lucky six-stringer isn’t sure how he came to be on Ozzy’s radar, but he’s grateful for the gig. “It’s still amazing," Gus G. told GeeksofDoom.com, in 2011. “It’s not something you really get used to, and I mean that in a great way. I’m really loving all the changes that have happened to me, and that I’m having the chance to do this at such a level. It’s a blessing. Few people in the world have the chance that I got, so I’m very grateful and I’m really enjoying it."