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During an appearance on the “Talking Shred” podcast, former MARILYN MANSON and current ROB ZOMBIE guitarist John 5 reflected on the passing of legendary VAN HALEN axeman Eddie Van Halen almost exactly a year ago. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “Me, just like millions of others, he was my favorite. It’s strange — I’m so upset too, because it’s, like, ‘God, couldn’t we do anything to save him?’
“Eddie was so special,” John 5 continued. “It’s really rare to have someone so special. Now, everybody listening to this and watching this can totally agree with me — I mean, the best guitar player, such an amazing inventor, such an amazing songwriter. And he had everything. And he was something special; he was touched by God. And we don’t have many Edward Van Halens — not just in music, but in anything. In sports — it’s like the Michael Jordan, or in art he’s like the Picasso. And we don’t have many of these. And I’m just happy we got what we got. I just wish that there was anything like… All the great minds in the world, ‘Listen, Eddie Van Halen is sick. Can’t we do anything to save him? He’s, like, everything.’ And it just breaks my heart. But I am so thankful for what we did get and the music and the guitars and the amps — everything. He was a real genius, and I was happy to, and lucky enough, to know him. And he was just a kind soul. It was so devastating. It really messed me up, just like everyone else. It’s hard to listen to him, but you listen to him and go, ‘Man, he was just something very, very special.’ He was the Mozart of our time. It’s just awful. It’s just a terrible, terrible thing.”
John 5 also discussed a hypothetical Eddie Van Halen tribute concert, saying: “If there is a show — which there needs to be, there has to be — if I’m not on stage, I’ll be front row. I think it’s something that definitely needs to happen with everybody. I think everybody should be there — I think Dave [Lee Roth] should be there, Sammy [Hagar] should be there, Mikey [Anthony] should be there, Wolfie [Van Halen], of course, Alex [Van Halen]; everybody that was a part of this VAN HALEN history — and all the fans all over the world, and just give praise and appreciation and love to the master, Edward. It just needs to happen. I think it would be a wonderful thing.”
John 5 previously talked about how he was affected by Eddie Van Halen‘s death a year ago while appearing on SiriusXM‘s “Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk”. At the time, he said: “We all knew that Eddie was not well, but he’s like our Superman,” John 5 said. “[We all thought] ‘Eddie‘s gonna be fine. We saw him at the TOOL concert. He’s gonna beat this. Everything’s gonna be fine. He’s our Superman.’ And when that news hit, I was talking to Fred Coury [CINDERELLA], and I said, ‘I’ve gotta go.’ I just hung up and I had to pull over on the freeway. I just couldn’t believe it. I was just shocked. It’s just the worst news — the worst. Because we listened to him every day; we saw his picture every day; he’s been a part of our lives since the late ’70s, and now he’s gone. But he changed the world forever, that’s for sure.”
John 5, who got his first big break playing on David Lee Roth‘s solo album, “DLR Band”, before landing stints with Manson and now Zombie, said that he first learned of Eddie‘s declining health from the VAN HALEN singer.
“I talked to Roth a while ago, and he was, like, ‘Yeah, Eddie‘s not doing well,'” John 5 recalled. “And I remember I’m sitting there at his place, and I started to well up, I was starting to tear up. I was, like, ‘Okay, get ahold of yourself.’ Because that’s you hearing it from someone that’s close to Ed. I was, like, ‘All right. Keep it together.’ Because I was shocked. I was, like, ‘Oh my God. This can’t be.'”
John 5 confirmed that he knew Eddie personally after first meeting the VAN HALEN guitarist nearly three decades ago.
“I didn’t really talk about it that much,” he said. “But I talked to Ed on the phone quite a bit. We would just sit on the phone for a long time. I don’t really talk about this, but we’d sit on the phone and chit-chat for a long time, and tell stories and talk about guitars and talk about bands, and it was always positive.”
“I think I met him the first time in ’93 through Robert Knight, the photographer. It was kind of nice contact — ‘Hello, how are you?’ — at events and stuff. But then it got a little closer when I started playing with Dave and Manson and everything. But yeah, he gave me a guitar; I gave him one of mine. We were pretty close — not super, super close like I am with Dave or Mike [Anthony] or something like that. But he knew — I would just always tell him how much he meant to me and how much he meant to a zillion other guitar players.”
Elaborating on what made Eddie‘s guitar playing so special, John said: “The thing about Ed is — which people that don’t play guitar don’t understand this — he looked at the instrument different, just like [Apple co-founder] Steve Jobs would look at a computer different or anything else; [American inventor Thomas] Edison would look at something different. And that’s what was so special, and that’s why we have lost such a giant, such an important figure in music.
“I would go down to the VAN HALEN rehearsal and I would pick up his guitar and play through his rig, and I would sound nothing like Eddie Van Halen even if I played a VAN HALEN song,” he explained. “And that’s the difference, because it’s what’s inside you. It’s those hands; it’s that feel. It’s like trying to describe the color blue. It’s a feeling, and it’s something you have. And I don’t know if we’ll ever have that again — ever.”
A video of John 5 performing a cover of VAN HALEN‘s version of “You Really Got Me”, featuring VAN HALEN‘s Michael Anthony on bass, SLIPKNOT‘s Corey Taylor on vocals and CINDERELLA‘s Fred Coury on drums, can be seen below.
Eddie passed away on October 6, 2020 at the age of 65 after a years-long battle with cancer. His death was announced by his son Wolfgang.
Eddie and Alex formed VAN HALEN in 1972 in Pasadena, California, with Roth on lead vocals and Anthony on bass.
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.
After undergoing hip replacement surgery in 1999 due to a chronic joint problem, Eddie was diagnosed with mouth cancer in 2000 and had to have part of his tongue surgically removed. He later battled throat cancer and reportedly had been receiving radiation treatment in Germany.