During an appearance on the “Appetite For Destortion” podcast, legendary guitarist George Lynch was asked about the impact Eddie Van Halen‘s death had on him. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “That hit me personally very hard, and every guitar player I know, pretty much, kind of felt the same way. As we get older, obviously, we’re seeing people go away and pass. And that’s just normal, of course. And we’re seeing a lot of that. And so that’s pretty profound. But, I mean, fucking David Bowie and George Michael and all these people — Prince — these giants… Tom Petty. It’s, like, ‘What?’ All at once it seemed like. But Eddie was on another level, because, obviously, we’re a little closer as far as what we do, and we kind of came up in the same place at the same time and had some connections and all that, so that’s why it was more profound, I think. And I learned a lot from him, and I based a lot of my style on him. Even though we were compatriots in a way, he was way beyond me, so I lifted a lot of stuff from him and got inspired by him, as we all did. He’s a Southern California guy, and we were like kind of neighbors and played the same clubs and played on the same stages together and hung out. [DOKKEN] did [the 1988] ‘Monsters Of Rock’ [tour with VAN HALEN, SCORPIONS, METALLICA and KINGDOM COME]… So, yeah, that was a pretty tough one. It hits close to home, too, I think, for us when our friends start disappearing, because it’s a lonelier place after that.”
Asked if he had any Eddie Van Halen stories to share that might “display the fun side of his personality,” George said: “He was just incredibly shy. He was just a super introvert. I mean, all the guy did was just sit in his room and play guitar his whole life, and drink his beers and smoke his cigarettes, and developed what he developed. He changed the guitar world. I think he was just sort of burdened with this whole fame thing and being a human being in a complicated world. It isn’t always so nice. He was a super-sensitive guy, which allowed him to be this incredible musician, as you have to have that sort of sympathy and empathy. A lot of people thought he wasn’t that nice of a person, but it was just ’cause he was really quiet. He was a little bit scared, but he spoke so beautifully through his instrument.
“But we had moments,” he continued. “We used to hang out. ‘Monsters Of Rock’, we’d go almost every night. When Valerie [Bertinelli, Eddie‘s then-wife] wasn’t out, we’d jam. We’d just sit in our hotel room and just play guitar all night. It was pretty awesome. And actually, I had some issues with my gear out there on the ‘Monsters’ tour, and [VAN HALEN] were the headliner, obviously. And he was so sweet, ’cause he was, like, ‘Hey, man, take anything you want of mine.’ So I did half that tour with his gear. That’s pretty insane, ’cause headliners usually don’t do stuff like that. They’re just, like, ‘That’s your problem. Figure it out,’ which is fair. But he was very sweet: ‘Just take anything you want — heads, cabinets.’ I used his rig for, like, half that tour. It was pretty sweet.
“He gave my son a guitar lesson,” George added. “My kid was going to GIT, and he wanted to be a guitar player like his dad. And I took him to meet Eddie at a show, and Eddie‘s, like, ‘You know what? You’re a guitar player? Let me show you…’ So they went back in the warmup room and he gave my son a little lesson. That was pretty cool. Who does that?”
Lynch previously talked about Eddie‘s influence in a 2009 interview with Guitar Player magazine. Asked if he was jealous of VAN HALEN‘s success in the late 1970s and early 1980s, George said: “We were jealous and we were all trying to play catch up. We thought, ‘Oh boy, we better get on board. This guy’s going to change the world.’ I remember my reaction when I first heard Eddie. I had been hearing about this guy with the weird European name. He’s got a torpedo onstage, the bass player wears clogs, they have bombs onstage, and the guy’s unbelievable. I saw him and it blew my mind. They were still doing covers at the time — RAINBOW, MONTROSE — and their original stuff was as good or better than their cover stuff, which was pretty exceptional. After their show, I went back to our band room and played my guitar until the sun came up. I thought, ‘Man, how can I get that tone?'”
Asked if he tried to copy Eddie, George said: “What I really did was sort of bounce off his stuff rather than emulate it. I’ve done that with a lot of players. Instead of copying them, I react to them. I’ll think, ‘Well, Di Meola does this thing. I can do some alternate picking, so I won’t copy it but I’ll embed that a little bit into my toolbox and do it my own way.’ I’ve tried to do that with any player who has influenced me: Clapton, Hendrix, Schenker, Eddie, Holdsworth. I couldn’t play any of their stuff note for note to save my life, but I can capture the gist of what they’re doing by being exposed to it. I can get the essence.”
Eddie died in October at the age of 65 after a long battle with cancer.
Rolling Stone magazine ranked Van Halen No. 8 in its list of the 100 greatest guitarists.