DEF LEPPARD guitarist Phil Collen has reflected on the passing of Eddie Van Halen, calling him “one of the most amazing influences ever.” The legendary VAN HALEN axeman died on October 6 at the age of 65 after a long battle with cancer.
Speaking to Everyone Loves Guitar, Collen said (see video below): “We’re talking about Eddie and the amazing impact he had on musicians, influences on guitar players and everything. It wasn’t just the guitar playing, obviously. He was one of the most amazing influences ever. There was Jimi Hendrix in the ’60s, and then Eddie Van Halen. Anyone who plays electric guitar would know about those two and what impact they had.
“I think when I first heard Eddie, it sounded like someone could fly — someone was literally like Superman,” he continued. “They were doing this stuff that was amazing. The feel was incredible — it was just firepower. And the technique was, obviously, amazing, but the vibrato was just out of this world. Everything about it was what you wanted to hear in a guitar player. He was doing things — obviously, the tapping and all these other things — he just made everything work for him. So that’s why it was so influential. It’s not often someone comes along and just makes you wanna play guitar. With Eddie, it really made me wanna play guitar.
“That was the wonderful thing about Eddie, if you ever saw him play — he is the guitar, and the guitar is him… He was constantly upping the game of the guitar — not just the playing, but the actual tool that you use to get that. And I love that.
“I met him just very briefly a couple of times,” Phil added. “And the first time I met him was on VAN HALEN‘s first headline tour of the U.K. I was in a band called GIRL, and we got back to see him, and I was talking to Eddie. I had this Fender Strat that was a gift from my mum on my 21st birthday. And I knew that it should have a Humbucker, because I couldn’t quite get it. I was using fuzz boxes and that. I wanted to sound like Ritchie Blackmore, which was kind of cool, but I really wanted the Eddie thing. And I met him, and I was talking to him, and I said, ‘I’ve got this Strat.’ And he said, ‘You know you’re never gonna be happy with that guitar until you put a Humbucker in that, right?’ So I did. So I went and got it fixed. That guitar, it was the main guitar on the ‘Hysteria’ album, so anytime you hear any of them songs — ‘Rocket’, ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’, ‘Armageddon It’, ‘Animal’, ‘Love Bites’ — that’s on there… So it was kind of cool that [Eddie] kind of gave me the okay and told me to butcher it in the first place. It sounds amazing. You’ve heard it. And it was incredible.
“We’re really gonna miss Eddie — the playing, the influences. Just amazing stuff. But we’ve got the sounds. We’ve got all that stuff to still listen to.”
Eddie died at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, California. His wife, Janie, was by his side, along with his son Wolfgang, and Alex, Eddie‘s brother and VAN HALEN drummer.
The iconic VAN HALEN axeman died from complications due to cancer, his son confirmed.
VAN HALEN was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2007.
Rolling Stone magazine ranked Eddie Van Halen No. 8 in its list of the 100 greatest guitarists.